As told to Miranda Harpell by WTA donor trip participant Sue Diamond Potts
“The community came out to greet us with song and dance. The joy expressed on their faces and the children reaching out for our hands brought tears to the group’s eyes.” Sue Diamond Potts
That was the welcome Sue Diamond Potts and her husband Bob received when they participated in a World Teacher Aid (WTA) donor trip to Kenya in the summer of 2014. Being welcomed into the community was an unforgettable memory for Sue and for the entire team; “You expect to go there to give, not to get, but their heart-felt expression of welcome and gratitude touches your heart and leaves you with more than you can ever imagine.” This is memory that will remain etched in their hearts forever.
As a WTA donor, Sue and Bob would have the opportunity to attend the launch of the nearly-completed school, visit other WTA Schools already flourishing, and visit the site of a future school – all while enjoying the vibrant and beautiful country of Kenya.
For these communities, something as fundamental as education requires an enormous amount of hard work, determination and sacrifice. It binds the community together and provides an enduring hope – ensuring their children and future generations will have the opportunity to learn and grow and succeed in life.
Camping right in the village allowed the group to get to know the community impacted by the work of WTA. Sue recalls gathering as a group around the campfire, sharing from the heart and listening to one another’s stories. Many had been internally displaced and uprooted from their previous homes and way of life due to violence and unrest, enduring unspeakable tragedies. And yet, an unmistakable resolve remained. Sitting there listening to these incredibly moving stories, an admiration grew for their strength, perseverance, and value for what really matters most in life. Under the contrast of the clear and expansive African sky, there wasn’t a dry eye in the circle that night.
When they visited the site of the future school, Sue and Bob were astounded that despite the lack of a completed structure or running water, a makeshift classroom was thriving with children clearly eager to attend school. Meeting the hard-working team on the ground and some of the local leaders left such a positive impression on the group. Even in the midst of the countless hardships and unique challenges they faced, Sue and Bob were struck by the work ethic, priorities, ingenuity, and passion of the people; “You are simply blown away by the lengths taken to educate their children, the sacrifices made and the pride in accomplishing this goal.” When commended for voluntarily walking seven miles every day to help with the construction of the school, one man simply stated “We are one family under God, and we’re all in this together.” These are words out of which inspiration is born.
Sue was impressed at how well the trip was organized and put together to create a unique and authentic experience. They felt safe and comfortable while having the opportunity to immerse themselves in diverse experiences, enjoy local culture and witness wildlife and nature up close.
At the end of their donor experience, Sue and Bob had the opportunity to observe the great migration in Masai Mara Game Park and remember having a pride of thirteen lions just three feet from their safari jeep – comparing the experience to living in a National Geographic film. They also visited a giraffe sanctuary, local markets and a children’s orphanage. These excursions only further enriched their overall experience and were a perfect way to conclude such an extraordinary adventure.
Sue said that all of this would not be possible without Stu and Amy, founders of WTA and an integral part of their dedicated team. This inspiring, accomplished and dynamic couple has an infectious positive energy that is evident to all who have the privilege of meeting and working with them. Sue found it a great pleasure joining them on this trip and witnessing first-hand the work WTA does and the wonderfully positive changes taking place in the communities they partner with.
Among the long list of amazing memories and the indelible impact this trip has had on her, Sue said that it’s hard to truly understand the remarkable impact the schools have on the community until you’re there, witnessing it first hand as a visitor. She wants those who would consider participating to know that they are not simply ‘building a classroom so kids can learn’ – that there’s so much more to it than that. Building these schools is positively impacting a whole way of life in an entire community and empowering them to look toward a better future.