Thick, black smoke billowed out of the small hut they called a kitchen. The two bedroom ‘house’ looked as though it was about to fall over. Corn attempted to grow on the corner of the lot. A few pairs of clothing were hung up to dry. This was Ann’s house.
I had been apart of the team going to Nakuru, Kenya for about a year. I was lucky, because the team of forty-nine had already been planning a year prior to my joining. It took a lot of preparation to be ready for the trip.
Our two and a half week trip started out spectacular. All of the luggage arrived! Things went very smoothly! For the first week I helped run Youth Camp at the United Methodist Mission School. Working with the teenagers was an absolute blast. It was interesting hearing what they knew about America. It’s really cool how much they love Barrack Obama!
Squatters Hill is a very poor slum area in Nakuru. Our group had the chance to go there for two days the second week. Whenever we went up to the hill the children would start running after our vans shouting “Muzungu!” (which means white person in Swahili). It was such a wonderful feeling… the feeling of being wanted, needed, and somewhat depended on. That’s where Ann comes in. I met Ann the first day we went up there. She’s a seventeen year old girl just like me. Only, she’s a lot stronger. She’s a lot braver. She’s gone through unimaginable experiences. What amazed me most is that she just opened up to me. She told me everything. Her whole story… Just ten years ago her family was pretty well off. They lived in a pretty nice house. Her dad got in a motor-vehicle accident and ended up passing away. His brothers came to their house and took everything from them, except the clothing on their backs. Ann and her family were kicked out of their own house! A few months went by and they decided to apply for a plot of land on Squatter’s Hill. After accepted, they built their own house. They’ve lived there for ten years now. Ann told me that some of her siblings couldn’t attend school because they couldn’t afford to pay the tuition, which is only about five American dollars a month. I can’t believe that some people actually live this way. It’s sad and unimaginable. I wish I could do something besides just tell them how sorry I am. Ann told me that I was a great friend, and that she would like to keep in touch with me. I sent her an e-mail, but I haven’t gotten anything in return yet. I hope she’s doing well. I pray for her constantly.
I really miss Kenya. I miss feces covered babies, cuddling up in your arms. I miss waving to everyone on the side of the road. I miss mosquito nets. I miss dust. I miss the aroma of body odor every time you enter the room. I miss seeing bananas hanging from shacks. I miss endless hi-fives. I miss feeling dirty. I miss people who don’t care what you look like. I miss the van rides. I miss Swahili. I miss seeing blue and red uniforms. I miss the beauty of the rift valley. Most of all I miss the love and kindness that all Kenyans have. The love and kindness that Kenya taught me to have. The love and kindness that I am still striving to earn. The love and kindness that I will never ever forget.
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