From the Head to the Heart – by Elise from the Netherlands

It is often said that “the best things come unexpectedly”, and my time in Korando has come as an unforeseen, but life-changing surprise. One phrase sums up my stay here—it has been an unplanned, but wonderful experience. When I initially left my native Holland in March to go Uganda, I thought I was going to stay there for 4 months to do an internship. However, life suddenly took me somewhere else and my internship has taken place here in Kenya.

For Easter, I travelled from Uganda to Kisumu, Kenya, to spend some time with my dear friend who was very unwell. I came to help her, but I was helped instead. I thought I would be there for only a few days and would be on my way back to Uganda after a very short stay; however, a couple of days have turned into a couple of months and I have moved from Uganda to Kenya. After she showed me the project she used to work for (in Korando), I was sold. Seeing the children running up to her, asking her how she was doing, and saying that they missed her, I knew that if I stayed, I would become part of one big family. And when Better Me Kenya said “Come join us” and told me what I could be doing with these children in the upcoming months, I knew that life had presented me with a unique opportunity, one that was too good to pass up. I have never looked back.

My feet haven’t touched the ground since I arrived. Currently, I am carrying out a livelihood assessment report to gain in-depth knowledge on the household situation of the children that attend the Korando Educational Centre. This means that I have the opportunity to put the things I learned during my studies into practice; together with other staff members, we are visiting every single home to ask families questions on how they earn their livelihoods and what kind of problems they are facing. I feel part of the lives of the people we are speaking to and have come to appreciate some of the difficulties that they face.

So far, we have visited 20 different households, and this initiative has presented its own challenges. For example, finding where the homesteads actually are is quite difficult. I have never had to navigate my way around a physical landscape where there are no maps, no road names, and no house numbers that we can rely on. The only thing we are given is the directions of the children who run up to us or the instructions of friendly neighbours who are more than happy to help. However, when we finally do reach the places we are looking for, we are warmly welcomed into their homes and then are rewarded by hearing and recording their unique and intriguing stories. The people are very kind, friendly, and hospitable. The other day, when we were about to leave, I was given a bag full of avocados and mangos as a gift. I have been so deeply moved and humbled by the welcome of the people we have been interviewing. My head knowledge has been transformed by experiences that have touched my heart.

The questionnaires are carried out in the afternoon and in the morning, I am busy giving the children physical education (PE) classes, something I really enjoy. I love spending time with them as they are always enthusiastic, cheerful, and happy when they are having their PE lessons. Seeing them having fun playing football and basketball gives me joy.

So, although coming to Korando was not planned and was completely unexpected, my stay here has been a gift and I will return to my native Holland fundamentally changed. From the moment I arrived, I felt welcomed and at home. I am part of something bigger. Every single day is different. Every single day is an adventure. And every single day I laugh.

Asante sana

May 27, 2018

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