GRATITUDE FOR GOOD
A Blog by Gratitude Alliance
By Jack Crowther (Reposted from The Gracias Foundation, now called Global Gratitude Alliance)
Jack is a 16 year old student at the International School of Berne, Switzerland. He and our other student volunteer spent 1 week at our project at Maisha children's home. The video below was compiled by Jack as part of his school project.
Walking into the door at Maisha was overwhelming. I’d been in planes, cars, trains all day so I wasn’t really prepared for 22 kids squeezed into an average sized living room. To add to this this they were singing to welcome us, and I didn’t really know what to say or do. Eventually two of the caregivers brought out food, my first taste of African cuisine, and it was pretty good I have to say. Sleeping in unfamiliar place after arriving a couple hours earlier was pretty weird and it was kind of hard to sleep.
The next morning we were going on a safari, the bus was supposed to pick us up at 7:00 but it ended up coming at around 8:30. That introduced me to the theme of that day, things rarely run smoothly in Kenya and the concept of “on time” is very different. I didn’t mind it at all though, it was actually a nice break from the almost perfection of Switzerland. It didn’t really matter that we were late. We even drove to the wrong entrance at first and had to drive 20 minutes to the main one. The whole time everyone seemed happy and excited about the trip and I found myself smiling and singing along.
On Monday I got an idea of the day to day life of the caregivers at Maisha. To summarize, they’re amazing. I started off by walking the goats with Chris, (a teenage Maisha resident) in the full sun then walked around the village while we waited for them to graze. Then I cleared up the goat poop from their pen. We then started cutting kale leaves for dinner and I sucked at it. The aim of the game was to cut them as small as possible; my pieces looked more like salad. The caretakers cooked the food over two small fires in a metal shed, it got insanely hot and smoky. They do that every day. Thanks to a generous donation the cooking area has been improved now. I was exhausted after one day, and they do it every single day. They’re pretty much legends.
The next day we went to buy books to build a library of text and story books at Maisha. We had a set amount of money that we wanted to spend, so we spent around two hours trying to get to a total. We ended up with 375 books. I was glad that we helped do something that had an obvious impact on the awesome kids there. (I’ve used awesome a lot, but it's true).
We went to the Elementary School the next day, and it gave some more perspective on how lucky I am. There were 80 kids in one class. That’s one teacher for 80 students. We did some corrections of some math, and I realized how bad I am at mental math. We then got to do P.E. which involved running and dancing in a circle, which again was fun and I ended up dancing (badly).
Near the end of the trip we bought souvenirs, I got a cool mask. That day wasn’t really the most eventful but we played with the kids. When we tried playing Uno we soon realized that they had their own version so we tried other games. A successful game was Ludo (the one where you have to get all four of your pieces around the board, and into your home base.) Yet again I had fun, and realized how happy all the Maisha kids were despite their situations.
Friday involved the most dramatic part of the entire week. The goat and chicken killing. As much as it was kind of disgusting, I think it was an important experience. Seeing where our meat comes from is, I think, an important lesson since we eat it almost every day over here.
Saturday we prepared for the party which involved cutting the lamb, peeling potatoes which is something I’ve never done before, and other general chores. We also went to the local store (which is more like a kiosk) and brought a bunch of pop for everyone.
I think overall the entire trip was amazing, it showed me an entirely different kind of life. It showed me that you can be happy no matter what your situation. It also confirmed that I am indeed, very, very lazy.