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Hannah’s Travel Diary

Friday, 12 Oct 2007

Location: Kenya

MapToday comes a very very close second experience to the trip to Lake Nakuru with the children. It was our last day with the children at School, I am currently very slightly heart-broken after saying goodbye to them but what a send-off we had. We arranged for Masi dancers to come to the school for the day and they arrived (in two matatus) with guitars, microphones and massive speakers. The kids went CRAZY! We hooked up the equipment to a neighbour's electricity supply (organised by Alex) and had the best day of dancing and singing I have ever had. At one point local people and children from all over the area surrounded the school premises, dancing and watching us all pulling some funky moves in the dusty playground.

The music was amazing, it was another boiling hot day and dancing to reggae music in the sunshine surrounded by happy children was fantastic. You can imagine how the children dance, they are mini kenyan dancers, hip-swinging and everything. The Masi dancers got the children to get involved in a dancing competition, I haven't laughed so hard for a long time. Then it was the teachers turn! To my regret we have around 10 minutes of video footage of all the volunteers dancing, Mzungu style! All of the leaders/managers at the Walk were also there - Alex, Patricia, Chris, John, Rogers and Ken (even though his wife is due to give birth any second!)

The kids were even more affectionate than usual today, my arms are completely aching from hugging and picking up so many children. Ester also boogied-on down, it was sooooo adorable. At the end of the dancing Alex got Caroline, Rachel and I to come to the front and say our good-byes to the kids. They all shouted "thank-you", "God bless" and "come again soon", quite obviously I cried and when I went to sit down several of the children looked at me with puzzled looks on their faces and pointed to their eyes because I had tears under mine which made me cry even more! Then it was time to compose ourselves because the children were told to go back into their classrooms to be given their parcels from us - brown paper bags full of a bag of flour (to make Ugali), a bag of sugar and a bag of salt (all massively valuable to the families). They all got sweeties too! The children all clutched onto their bags (in my class they were about a quarter of the size of the kids!) and I took a million photos of my class (including a few more of Flora!) It was also really sad for me to say goodbye to Patricia, the permanent teacher for my class. She told me she would really miss me, that she had learned a lot from me and she told me to come back soon which was incredibly touching. She then got the children to sing the inaccurate version of "I can sing a rainbow" I had taught them back to me, there was a lot of laughter mixed in with my tears. I got to cuddle and high-five them all one more time as they ran out of the classroom and then they were gone.

Tonight Rachel, Carolyn and I are taking out Alex and Patricia for a meal in Nakuru. Tomorrow Carolyn and I are going to the equator in the morning (to see some really stunning waterfalls), then it is shopping in the afternoon and then out in the evening with the mzungus for our last night in Nakuru. On Sunday we are going camping in Navasha with Rachel's friend Kat again and going to a floating restaurant on a lake (?!), on Monday we are going out in Nairobi and then our flight back to the UK is on Tuesday. So a lot to cram into our last few days here, I don't want it to end. However a few things I am looking forward to when I get home are:

1) Seeing family and friends
2) Being reunited with my GHDs
3) Not having to chop or eat any more cabbage (although I have a strange feeling I may miss it when I get back??!!)
4) Being able to have a hot shower (the water and electricity in Alex's house often goes out on a daily basis!)
5) Having fast internet connection speed
6) Not being ill (I have had pretty much a constant cold during my stay, Rachel and Carolyn have also suffered later in our stay here. This hasn't by any means affected my experience but I would like to be able to come off paracetomal, flu-medicine, Karvol Capsules and Vicks!!)
7) Not being constantly covered in dirt and dust
8) Not being greeted by spiders, cockroaches, locusts or various other evil insects whenever I go to the toilet

These things are pretty futile and I am going to miss so many things in Kenya even more. Quite obviously the children and people at the Walk, but also the Kenyan people and ethos here, the weather!, riding the boda-boda, the music, being greeted by every child I see with a huge smile and a shout of "how are you", being greeted by wandering livestock as soon as we leave Alex's house, not having any concept of time, being able to pay 4 pounds for a B&B hotel room, 1 pound for a drink, around 5 pounds for a 3-course meal and 20p for a bus ride/boda-boda. It has been heart-breaking to see the poverty in the slums but also massively encouraging to see the tangible difference the Walk Centre provides to the children and their families. This has been a profound and life-changing experience for me and I know I will be coming back to the UK with a different attitude and a lot of amazing memories in my heart. I would like to thank my organisation Great Places for providing me with this opportunity, I hope all our diary entries illustrate the good work of the Centre we support.

I hope to write a diary entry over the weekend, but it depends if I have time! Speak to you soon, Hannah xx