I have been dreaming about this “Me to We” Trip for at least 7 years, maybe longer. I have been dreaming of returning to Africa ever since we left 14 years ago. I cannot describe how wonderful it felt when we drove into the gates of Bogani and heard singing. The Me to We staff were waiting for us, singing a welcome song in perfect harmony. I was glad I was wearing sunglasses, because I was quite overcome with emotion. We were finally here.
The facility is stunning. It is nestled in a forested area, lush and green. The cottages are very comfortable, and decorated with African art and handicrafts.
Here are some photos of Maxine and Michelle’s cottage:
After a delicious lunch, we visited one of Free the Children’s Elementary Schools called Enelerai. The boys enjoyed playing soccer with the students, but were a bit overwhelmed by the swarm of kids that greeted them when we arrived. Every kid wanted to touch us, our hair, our skin – they were quite curious. Teva was particularly shy, and asked to be up on Aubrey’s shoulders, safe from the reach of strange arms. Everyone wanted to pick him up. This was because people wanted to welcome us into their community, to treat us (and especially Teva) as one of their own. It takes a village to raise a child, and cute little kids are picked up no matter to whom they belong. Teva got down when it was time to play soccer, though.
The adults on our trip really enjoyed our tour, seeing the impact of the project on the community at large. We got to see the ruins of the old school, which was built by the community members, so we could compare it to what they have now. This was not to knock the old school, but to give us a glimpse into the evolution of the community.
When Free the Children first became involved with this community and this school, there were many more boys than girls enrolled. When the team here did some research, they realized one of the reasons for this skew was because fetching water was the girls’ job. If the river was in the opposite direction to the school, the girls would not have to time to honour their commitment to the family as well as go to school. That was when Free the Children decided to provide a clean water source at the school. This way, the girls could bring water home and still attend classes.
After school was out, some high school students came to compete in some track events. As they set up the races, our Maasai guides, Wilson and Jackson, jokingly invited Erez, Zev and Noam to participate. Erez said “sure, why not,” and the boys lined up for the 100 metre dash on the soccer field. They ran alongside the high school boys, but had no hope of keeping up. This was quite entertaining for all who were watching, especially the locals. Kenyans are known for their internationally ranked long distance runners, as well as sprinters. Perhaps due to the advantage of training and living at an elevation of over 1500 metres, some of the world’s best runners come from this area of Kenya, and of course, many of them run barefoot.
One of the most amazing things about our trip so far, is our facilitators. Kate is from New Hampshire, and is wonderful. She has been in Kenya for two years so far. Wilson and Jackson, have already written a book about growing up in Maasailand and becoming Maasai warriors, which we highly recommend. Their story is absolutely fascinating. For the past four years, they have come to Canada for three months every Fall to do speaking tours with Me to We. We were so lucky to have met them, and even more lucky to spend most of our time for eight days learning from them.
We ended the day with more splendid food and drink, including a Kenyan cocktail called Dawa, and then a local Bogani tradition of each sharing his or her own highlight of the day. This tradition is much like our family tradition of sharing “Three Awesome Things” prior to sleep for each of the boys. The only trouble for the boys was finding only one highlight.
Next…visiting the Mamas in Emori Joi…