SEEING IS BELIEVING
Zsa zsa (what's up in Swahili) it's Bailey Roberts and Jasey Tragesser comin to ya live from the IU house cafeteria. We spent an incredible day with some amazing children with phenomenal stories. We'll break the day down for you in two parts; my (Bailey) perspective and then Jasey's.
Truthfully, I hate being put on the spot like this. I want for all you parents out there (probably everyone's but my own) to know what your children have been up to all this time they haven't been talking to you, and I don't want to let anyone down. So I'll just let the Owens, the Swiss', the Bulls, the Noldens, the M'Bouroukoundas, and the Fivels know that I was not with your children today and I really have no idea what they did so if you just want to stop reading now I won't be offended.
Today we went to the Sally Test center. For all of those who like me at the beginning of this trip have no idea what that is, it's place where orphans and abandoned children go to hang out while they're at the hospital and not receiving treatment. There were around 15 kids already at the center when we arrived ranging from the ages of one month to about 10 years of age. We divided and conquered play time. Dougie, David, Mary, Layton, and Ellen headed over to the older kids to play board games and "legos" while Brenda, Jasey and I played with the youngens. I spent a majority of the morning with a little girl named Lydia. She has a neurological disease that the clinic has yet to pinpoint, but you could immediately tell something was wrong. Didn't matter to me and Lydia, we got along just fine. To the point where little lydia wouldn't let me out of her sight, or reach. After lunch we went to the Neema house, a place for orphaned and abandoned children that are affected/infected with HIV where they sleep, eat, learn and play. The experience I had there today was TRULY life changing. We spent 3 hours running around and playing with children who could hardly understand a word we could say, but it didn't matter. I have never in my life experienced such love from a child I hardly knew. I can't adequately describe what I experienced today, and I don't think I'll ever be capable of it. But hey, I tried.
Now it's Jasey's turn.
From the beginning I saw this trip as strictly a service trip and that I would get nothing in return other than exposure to something I've never experienced... Until today.
Today my group went to the Sally Test children's center at the AMPATH Hospital. Children who are patients in the hospital go there to play with other patients, read, and learn basic math skills.
These children don't get much affection and it was our job to hold the small babies and play with the younger kids to give them the attention they need and deserve. I started by holding a tiny, fragile, and absolutely precious one-month old baby girl that was more well-behaved than half of the kids in the U.S. She was fully alert the entire time and didn't fuss once.
About an hour later, the baby had to eat and I turned my attention to a group of about 10 of the older kids (3-8yrs old) sitting in a circle. I walk over to the group and one of the nurses asks me to read "The Three Little Pigs" to the kids... I opened the book and it was in English, which is ironic because the kids spoke little to no English. As I read, the nurse sitting beside me would translate each page to Swahili after I read it. It was funny because they would stare intently as I read in English, and laugh once it was translated. Looking at them, I could see that a majority of them had broken limbs or severe burns and yet, they were the happiest kids I've ever met. Their eyes were bright and smiles were genuine.
Later in the day, we went to the Neema House where orphaned children find refuge. At this house, they are provided with food, schooling, and shelter. Like the Sally Test center, these children don't receive much attention because there is a large number of them. When we arrived, the children were at the school on the grounds, but about 20 minutes later, they were running from the school house to the main house where we were. They walked in in their uniforms and came up to us and shook every one of our hands. They have clearly been taught correct manners. They changed into play clothes and ran into the room and told us to come outside and play. We run outside to the huge area of grass to play and on the way, kids would come up, hold our hands and tell us to run faster. They were absolutely enthralled that we were there and their faces lit up.
Anything would entertain these kids, so I decided to form a line by holding hands and start skipping around and yelling "SKIP SKIP SKIP" The kids clearly didn't know the word, so they had fun using it in the right way and the wrong way.
There were 2 kids in particular that would not let go of my hand. They would fight other kids who tried to hold my hand and if I let go for a second, they would freak out. I realized that just a simple touch makes these kids overwhelmingly happy... And then it hit me.
Not only are we in Kenya to serve others and make a difference in other people's lives, but we are here to open our minds, hearts, and spirits for them to positively influence us to live a better life.
Throughout the trip, everyone has noticed that Kenyans, even the poorest of the poor, make the best of their situation and are truly happy with their lives.
I was listening to a song last night by Kid Cudi called The Pursuit of Happiness and the lyrics go, "I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know that everything that shines ain't always gonna be gold." To me, it describes what I'm experiencing perfectly. The people who live in slums may not look like "gold" or shine in a physical way, but on the inside, they shine due to their raw love and happiness.
I've realized that I will experience, analyze, and figure out what constitutes happiness through the Kenyan people. I've never believed that any person can be truly happy because they must always want something. I've heard that Kenyans are happy people, but today I noticed I saw it and realized that happiness is possible and I will try my hardest to appreciate what I have and find happiness through everything I do.