I’ve been planning this blog post in my head since before we even boarded our first flight to Kenya almost two weeks ago. This last trip was unlike any of the other trips I have taken to Africa and I knew that I wanted to take my time to really processes everything and use the right words before I finally started sharing about this trip.
First, it was by far my favorite trip to Kitale, Kenya. I got to travel with three of the most amazing, passionate and talented women I know. There seriously aren’t even words to describe how much I admire Jenni, Jami and Denise W. Seriously.
On this trip we spent our time photographing, interviewing and talking with 86 girls that we plan on playing a part in helping change their futures. We spent all day with the girls listening to their stories, hearing about their struggles and needs and how we can play a part in helping them. Going into this trip I knew this was going to be one of the most emotionally challenging and draining experiences of my life. If you know me, you know that I am not very emotional, at all, and I don’t often let myself get upset and certainly don’t let anyone see me when I am upset or breaking down. But, I knew I was going to have to quickly get over that because there was no way I was going to be able to talk with these girls and listen and take notes while they told their unimaginable stories to us and not let it effect me. Before heading out on this trip I knew I needed to mentally prepared for all it had in store..but when I was being honest with myself I knew there was no way to actually be fully prepared for all that was in store.
So, girl after girl all day long they would file into the small classroom with us at the Seed’s Academy and sit down infront of a few of us and tells us about their life. While every girl’s story was different they all seemed to have at least a few things in common; no parents, lack of not only food but clothing, a safe living environment and a good education. The girls ranged anywhere from age 3 to 17. And they are all living in situations that my mind can’t even fathom. They have been forced to grow up way too quickly and carry responsibilities that I have may never face in my entire life. They are 86 of the strongest girls I have ever met in my entire life. And now that I know their stories and their dreams I want to do everything I can to make them happen. I want to use every ounce of my energy informing everyone I can and pointing them in the right direction to also make a change.
Each night we would head back to our lodge for dinner and would finally get to breath and break down our thoughts with each other. Which really meant the other girls talking and me listening while I tried processing my many many thoughts in my head. Yep, that’s me, always trying to figure things out on my own..let me tell you, it’s probably not the best way to keep yourself sane. Seriously. Being home and being alone and finally dealing with all my thoughts hasn’t been easy. Not knowing what to do with them I finally decided to start journaling and writing them out hoping it would help me clear my head and think without it being so overwhelmed and clouded. So far the journaling has been treating me well.
We did find a few hours of time throughout the week to stop by the orphanage and hang out with the kids that we have already fallen in love with on our previous trips. And that was the best surprise of the whole trip. It was really nice to get to just hangout and spend time with the kids without there being anything planned or scheduled out. On our last couple trips we came prepared with different games, devotions and activities each time we were with the kids but this time, since we were spending almost all of our time interviewing and we didn’t think we were going to get more than one evening with the kids we were able to just do whatever. I spent more time talking to and getting know some of the teenagers that I bonded with before this trip and spent A LOT of the time snuggling and holding the little babes that hold a large chunk of my heart.
As you already know, I plan on moving to Kitale in August. I will be spending my days with the kids continuing to get to know them and learn their stories and share them with you guys and strengthen the bond that we all have with them..there is a lot more to what I’ll be doing but I’m sure I’ll get to share the details with you guys soon! The past few month have been pretty overwhelming for me. It was finally starting to sink in that I am moving away from everything constant and familiar about my life. I wouldn’t be spending my days with some of my best friends in the whole world in the Platinum room everyday and I would be leaving the very comfortable life that I have worked hard for and pick up and move halfway across the world to live at an orphanage. I am moving to a country that I have never spent more than two week in. And on the surface it may sound a little crazy BUT with every trip I take I fall even more deeply in love with not only Kenya but with the children and people I meet there.
The overwhelming love I have for the children can’t even be put into words. I wish I had a really great way to explain it but it’s impossible. Once you’ve fallen for Africa there is no going back and I have fallen so hard that I want to spend the next chapter of my life devoting every part of me to changing the lives of the girls we just met, with the children that I haven fallen in love with even more on each trip, with the city of Kitale and everything that I hope for it to grow up and become and to continue to share that love with all of you and hopefully trick you guys into loving it even a tiny fraction as much as I do!
I’ve told so many people this, but I wish I had the money and opportunity to take every single one of you there. Even if it was just for a day, cause there is absolutely no way that you wouldn’t fall in love with the people and children. And once you’ve fallen for them you want to do everything you can to make a change in their lives.
I could honestly go on and on for a lifetime about Africa and all that it has done to my life but I’ll cut myself short today and share more next week. Promise.
Hope I didn’t bore you too much..sometimes I tend to ramble and all I talk about is Africa but I can’t help it, it’s my love.
Oh, I almost forgot..a lifetime dream of mine has been to take a motorcycle ride and what better place to make that happen than in Kenya?! Yep, in seconds another dream came true on this trip! Even though I am not sure if most people would count this as an actual motorcycle..especially because we went beyond slow but it works for me and I am checking it off my bucket list!