I came here 3 weeks ago with the only purpose of spending my time with the kids at Korando. My first time volunteering was back in 2010 in Haiti after the earthquake. If someone would have asked me what has been the most beautiful experience I ever had in 8 years since I left home, I would have answered Haiti. One year ago I met Pablo Penin in Colombia. We spoke shortly, we kept in touch and months later I saw a picture of him with the kids at Korando. Pablo came to Kenya in 2015 to visit and help his friend Torsten in the construction of the Dome House. After talking to Judith, Better me wonderful volunteer coordinator, with her kindness and professionalism, I had no doubt I was going to Kenya.
So I got to Kisumu on a Tuesday morning, welcomed by Judith, Simon and Dan. It took me a day to adjust to the new environment. As soon as I saw the kids, I realized I came to a place of Love and respect. Mama Dolfines speech touched my hearth like nothing else before. “I wanted to make a change. Now I am happy that I have seen that change. My wish is that when I will go to see my God, I leave no kids suffering.”
That was the beginning of my 3 weeks at Korando. Wake up at 7, breakfast with my new family, visiting the youngest kids at nursery and going to class teaching Geography, Spanish and Yoga. Sometimes I used to stand outside the house early morning to see them coming to school. They would look at me saying Hello Tiziana, and then when they see me in class, they would all stand up and say Good morning teacher! Those smiles, those eyes, were the most beautiful gift every morning. All the children are so eager to learn, attentive and ready to play and to be loved. I still recall the first time I saw Beatrice. She is 9, so beautiful, and lives at Korando with her sisters. She was shy at the beginning and never looked into my eyes. Then, the first Thursday during dinner time she took my hand and was caressing my fingers and nails. That was when our bond of love and care was created. Then there was Mary, 5 years old, an energy bomb! Never stop playing and laughing!
Sometimes I was going to town mainly to buy ingredients to make a yogurt cake from my grandmother recipe. It was so much fun coming back home and bake the cake while dancing with the kids, and so happy to see them liking my cake!
The children always come and play with us after school. We paint with watercolours, play cards or make puzzles. On Thursdays I used to go to the slums and read books to the kids with Irene, an amazing local girl which is now a wonderful friend. On my first weekend she took me out in Kisumu club hopping… the music, the people, everything was just amazing, living the local’s life! Then back at Korando for another week of teaching, caring and loving. In these last weeks I felt alive, happy and at some moments I could get a glimpse of the true meaning of life.
What Torsten has done here is amazing. Most of people would have walked pass Korando doing nothing. He met Mama Dolfine, he raised money, he decided to stay and build a dome house for likeminded people willing to give their time and love to the most beautiful and vulnerable little human beings in the world.
And now that my time here is almost over, I found myself staring at the children. My eyes suddenly get full of tears of joy because I have got to know them, tears of sadness because I have to go. I am tired of leaving pieces of my heart around the world, but the more I give, the more my heart grows. When you give, you forget about yourself. I found greater Peace at Korando than focusing on my own self during a meditation retreat. When you spend your days caring for orphans there is no time or need to think about yourself. Your own mind, fears and needs stop being at the center of the world. What is truly important in life finds its place again. You feel so happy inside and a better person.
And for my happiness, I owe a special thanks to Judith, Simon, Sandy, Torsten and Elisabeth, the best house companions I have ever had. Thank you for all the laughs, dinner on the roof, the journeys in the matatu, and for simply sharing the same purpose in life. Thanks to Mama Dolfine for opening her house and heart to me. Thanks to my soulmate Siva for supporting and sharing this experience with me in distance but close in spirit. And the biggest thank you goes to Abraham, Beatrice, Brooklyn, Mary, Michelle, Vicky, Scovia, Edwin, William (aka TheRed lol), Julias, Seth, Moses, Vivian… and each and every single kid and teacher at Korando. Thank you for your Love.
I never go back twice to the same place, but here I will leave a big piece of my heart. So, Brooklyn, the answer to your question is that I will be back to Korando, to find my piece of heart again.