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Laurier Senior says, 'Jambo Kenya!'
Inspired by their experience at We Day in 2013 and empowered by their
shared passion for change, five Laurier Senior High School graduates took part
in a Me to We humanitarian trip to
Africa this past July.
Their journey began during their senior year at LSHS when they learned of an opportunity to spend two weeks among a Kenyan Maasai tribe, reaching out to a community in need. Through fundraising initiatives that varied from bake sales and popcorn sales, raffle draws and hockey nights, car washes and garage sales to a reception gala and a benefit concert, these students were determined to make their dream a reality. As their group leader, I had the honor of sharing in the laughter and in the tears that would mark this life-changing adventure.
With eighteen months of dedication and hard work behind us, we left Laval on July 4, 2014 with mixed sentiments of excitement and anxiety. We could not have anticipated the friendships we would soon foster or the impression that the Maasai community and culture would have on us. Each morning began before sunrise from the rooster crows and the calls for ‘maji moto’ (hot water). We volunteered on site of one of Free the Children’s school grounds, digging the trenches for the foundation of a new building that would soon be home to grade 8 students from the village. Our days consisted of visits to local schools and clinics where we had a chance to play with the children and talk to their families. Our evenings were dedicated to discussions about the sights we had seen and the conversations we had, reflecting on what brought us on this journey and what we hoped to accomplish. Whether we were working on the build-site, carrying water on our backs for the African Mammas or taking beading lessons and learning Swahili from our Maasai Warriors, we were welcomed into the local community and showered with kindness and gratitude.
Although our backpacks were lighter on our return trip to Laval, we brought back with us so much more than what we had left with ―a different intent, a changed perspective, a new-found appreciation for the gifts of education, healthcare, sanitation and water that we often take for granted. Our thoughts, directed to the life lessons that this trip had offered. Our hearts, filled with cherished memories of the village that had become our home. For some of us, we will never forget holding the hand of a young child as we walked from camp to school or the feeling we had when a giraffe approached our ‘lori’ (truck) as we travelled through the African safari to our ‘Manyatta’ (clay home).
The lasting impact of our journey to Kenya could not be captured in our rolls of footage or in our journals, but will surely live on in us and will shape our future as we aspire to “be the change we wish to see in the world” (Mahatma Ghandi).
Jambo - Hello,
Jambo bwana – Hello Sir
Habari gani – How are you?
Mzuri sana – Very Good
Wageni – Visitors,
Wakari Bishwa – are welcome.
Kenya yetu – Our Kenya,
Hakuna Matataa – has no worries.
It has been a profound and beautiful experience. I just appreciate life more and I feel like I am always smiling or crying because of my memories of Kenya.” ~ Andrea Mambro
“Amazing. Once in a life-time experience.” ~ Billie Leroux
I loved that the children were always smiling and calling out to us, ‘Jambo! Jambo!’ The whole community was so positive and friendly. I felt as though we were part their families.” ~ Siena Daudelin
“My time in Africa was amazing. It’s an experience you can’t explain. You have to live it.” ~ Cecilia Bono
“I am so grateful to have taken part in a trip like ours. It was something I definitely needed to be the person I wanted to be. The lessons learned and the bonds created are now shadows that walk with me.” ~ Tiffany Resendes
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