Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Oh Beautiful Kenya

Have you ever had an experience so dear to your heart you've been afraid to voice it? To be completely honest, I've been putting off writing this post. Partly because I have so much I want to share. And partly because I fear I won't do justice to the experience through my words... that somehow it would lose its magic as it travels from my memory into the present.

Please bear with me as I try to formulate my thoughts into a coherent blog post. That being said, I'm still going to try to keep the narrative to a minimum.

I don't talk much about our two weeks in Kenya. Sure, if people ask, I mention the wonderful community, the delicious food, the amazing weather, the gorgeous scenery... but I don't go into too much detail. It's not because I have nothing to tell. In fact, it's just the opposite. I have so much I want to tell that I don't know where to begin. Random stories play in my mind over and over again. Faces of the beautiful people we met haunt my dreams. Memories of minuscule details I could never forget even if I tried.

What stood out most about this trip were the amazing Kenyan people. All the men, women, and children we met were absolutely delightful. I have never seen so many warm and smiling faces. I have never felt so welcome in a foreign land. We were there to build a home for a lovely family: Hellen, Moses, and their eight children.

We spent around half of our trip on the build site and there were many members of the community helping out with the construction. There were times when there was literally nothing to do, which made the experience so much more enjoyable because we could spend the time interacting with new friends.

I picked up some leaves off the ground to make Vince this "pocket square" - he protested against wearing it but I could have sworn he secretly liked it. I looked at him a while later and he had tossed it so I guess he actually didn't. Hmmmph. At least I got a photo.

This blog post wouldn't be complete without a few food photos. There was a beautiful avocado tree at the site that provided us with some much needed shade. The fruits were huge and plentiful... yes, there were a few close calls as they dropped to the ground but luckily none of us were hit. We were treated with fresh avocado for dessert a few nights during the week and they were absolutely delicious... tamu sana!

Habitat hires local staff to help us during our trip. Charles and Ambrose prepared all our food and it was incredibly fresh and flavourful. Joseph took care of security for our site. Our wonderful drivers were Bonnie and Michael - I will always remember laughing hysterically during a game of "Flowers" or "BS" - a card game similar to Crazy Eights except everyone cheats.

These next photos are some of my most cherished of the entire trip. The kids in particular LOVED to pose for the camera. Then when you showed them the photo, they went WILD! It was fine when there were only 2 or 3 kids around but when there were 5 or more, madness ensued and I actually put my camera away on many occasions so the kids wouldn't trample each other.

This little girl was Vince's favourite. She had the cutest little voice and ran up to me at the closing ceremony to hug me around the legs. Kids who do that win me over instantly.

Vince decided to teach the little boy on the left to wink. Oh man, after he learned, he saw that it made us laugh and he kept doing it. Over and over again. I think his parents thought there was something wrong with his face. Sweetie, that's the legacy you want to leave in Kenya? ;)

My heart literally aches when I think of this little girl. Towards the end of our build, Vince took to chasing her around the site and she would let out the most adorable little giggle. I wanted to bottle it up and take it home with me so I could listen to it always. Oh yes, Internet, she had a giggle that could bring about world peace. Every time I asked her name, she would look at me with a glimmer in her eye, cover her mouth with both hands, and... *giggle giggle giggle*.

Our closing ceremony...

This trip was particularly dear to me because there was such a variety of experiences. We had the opportunity to visit the Chongenwo Church Orphanage Home, the Kapkatet Primary School, a nursery school near our build site, a Maasai village, the Maai Mahiu Camp for Internally Displaced Persons, the town of Sotik, the city of Kisii, the Rift Valley Lookout, and Big Mama's soapstone shop. We also got to attend a church service, tour the Kapkatet Tea Factory, go on a number of safaris, and help build a home for our family! It was the most incredible experience and I have never felt so many intense emotions in such a short time span.

After the build, we had a few days of R&R time. This is when we visited a Maasai village and went on a much-anticipated safari. I have wanted to go on safari for years and years. Happily, this one did not disappoint... I just wish I had a longer lens. Next time!

Then came the jumping competition, also known as the adumu. This is done by the men of the village and is supposed to demonstrate strength and agility. After the demonstration, the Maasai invited the four men from our group to try it. Only two agreed. Guess who was part of the two? I'm so proud of my baby!!!

After our short visit, at the end of which one of the Maasai men offered to buy me for 20 cows, we headed to the Masai Mara Game Reserve.

Wow, if you've made it this far, thank you for sticking around. I know I haven't been very thorough with my descriptions so if you have any questions about any aspect of the trip, please don't hesitate to ask!

  © 2012 | Lesley Wong Photography | All rights reserved.

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