Kenya (January 2013)
Habitat for Humanity : Kenya
Our Habitat for Humanity Kenya team spent two weeks building a house for a family of four. Although the families in the community spoke mainly swahili, many of them spoke some english, too, making for a much stronger connection with the family we built for. We each were given the opportunity to spend a day in the kitchen learning to cook from the village women and hear their stories. By the end of the two weeks, the families were begging us to stay longer and live with them.
Like those we helped in Indonesia, the families in Kenya were so grateful for our help. They did everything they possibly could to make sure we were comfortable. During our tea breaks, one of the women noticed I wasn't drinking the tea. She asked me why and I explained I couldn't drink milk, and since the milk and tea was mixed together, I couldn't drink it. From that point on, they made sure to bring out one canister of only hot water and teabags.
Many of the kids in Bomet, the town we were building in, had never seen white people before. They were fascinated by us and always came to the build site. They were adorable!
One of the things I haven't been able to forget was when I was walking with one of the women to get water. She asked me why everyone in our group looked different - why did we have different color hair and eyes when everyone in Kenya had the same. I've never once thought about that in my entire life until she brought it up. But what must that be like? To live in the heart of a third-world country where you never see anyone who looks different from you (except on rare occasions when volunteer groups come into town) - everyone has the same exact hair color, skin color and eye color. It's wild - I can't even imagine it.
Our Build Progress
Below is a video I created summing up my time in Kenya. The first part covers my volunteer experience, while the second part has clips and images from the safari. If you like animals, please watch! The lion and lion cub clips are ADORABLE!
Maasai Mara Safari
I have never witnessed something so magical as I did during my safari in Kenya. Words cannot even explain how amazing the safari was. I felt so free riding in the safari vans - it was just us, the plains and the animals. I don't think anything in my life will ever compare to the safari in Kenya. I will never be able to go to a zoo ever again. Once you see animals playing and living in their natural habitat, nothing will ever be the same. If I could only travel one more place for the rest of my life, I would go back and do this all again. Pictures don't even begin to do justice to the beauty of Kenya.
Travel to Kenya as part of a group - it's safer!
As is the case with many developing countries, you should only go as part of a group. While Kenya has by far been my favorite country I have visited, if I didn't go with Habitat for Humanity, I would've thought twice about going. Since Kenyan elections were in March and past elections were surrounded with violence and massacres, we had armed guards staying at our hotel every night. While it was kind of scary, nothing bad happened during our trip and luckily, as elections approached in March, there wasn't nearly as much violence in the past. When deciding where to volunteer, it's important to consider all of the risks involve. Although there are more risks with volunteering in undeveloped countries, those are usually the countries with the most need. If you are travel savvy, stick with the group and pay close attention to your surroundings, you will be fine!