To say that I was excited about it is understatement. I had been waiting for the trip since 2017 and when it was postponed to 2018, I got more excited rather than discouraged. It was going to be my first experience so I had all kinds of emotions and thoughts… “Will I get along with everyone? What is expected of me? Can I make the donors who have never come to my country enjoy their first experience?” etc., were some of my questions and feelings – anxiety, excitement, fear of making mistakes. However, I reassured myself that I could do it, I’d just have to take it slowly (as a counsellor, I had to give myself some counselling)
Fast-forward, July 2018 came! First I met Carey for the first time and my experience started there. As we started to work as a team to final preparation, I just knew I was going to enjoy it. Amy, Sue and Ellyn came and I realized I needed not be anxious, it was going to be wonderful with these good mentors. Sam, who had some experience had given Philip and I an idea of what to expect.
The airport experience makes me wonder how I managed to meet some strangers and suddenly start a conversation. I only did it because the donors were very friendly and it was easy to strike up a conversation despite jet-lag and other things. In a matter of seconds, we were friends and I actually looked forward to going to pick up the donors. From that moment, I realized that what I had been told by the experienced team members was true! I just needed to relax, be myself and all would flow.
Soon it was time to go to the camp and our road trip was fun and well-planned. We had two camping sites so we divided into our various camps and the leaders encouraged us to get to know each other and take care of one another. Thus, it was interesting as we travelled in the vans as I listened to deeper friendships developing.
Our camp was the farthest and despite arriving late in the evening, the community waited to welcome us and despite being tired, the team enjoyed the welcome. Our first campfire was the same evening but introductions had to be done. Everyone still found some energy!
The four days at the camp went very fast and I was thrilled to see the joy and excitement among the donors and children. They played with them, took photos, painted, planted trees, made footpaths etc., and it was amazing to see how deep the feelings went among the donors and the children. It was heartbreaking to leave both for the community and donors but they said their sad goodbyes anyway.
From there, days flew past and at some point we went shopping for Kenyan-made goods. I really enjoyed bargaining and I would not let the donors be swindled as I watched. I discovered that I am one who fiercely defends fairness as I negotiated so heatedly when I felt that someone was taking advantage.
Finally we had to say our goodbyes and this time it was to real friends we had an experience with that would never be forgotten nor repeated. It was comforting to know that we could keep in touch, thanks to Social Media.