Well…its been a week since returning home and yet I am still overwhelmed with the experience and floods of emotions I am continuously revisiting. This trip to Kenya, Africa took me places that I did not know existed….not physically but emotionally, sentimentally and life altering.
The true beauty and physical nature in Africa was beyond words and truly incredible, and a friend told me once down there, something would always tie you and pull you back. Its only a week and as amazing as it has been being back home with my wife and kids, I would be lying if I said I was truly glad to be home.
I think the tie and or emotional attachment occurred once arriving at the schools; Shalom Primary and Ndatho Hope Primary School. There is a saying that goes, “Seeing is believing” which I am beyond humbled and proud to say I witnessed first hand the true power of a global connection, the invincible tie of the human spirit and powerful bond between two Nations coming together for a community to ignite, create and inspire HOPE.
Amy and Stu McLean has created something transformational! Being part of this inspiring adventure across the Ocean has lead me to new notions and beliefs on life. Amy and Stu created a movement 7 years ago with only $350 in a non-profit bank account, which has brought many Schools into International Displaced Communities throughout Kenya, Africa.
The mission from Write to Give was; to build confidence in children’s reading and writing, build global awareness for cultural differences and help other children in developing nations. The actual outcome….so so much more!
Walking into the school community seeing the students, teachers, parents and people you could truly see, but even more so feel the true impact that their inspiring movement has brought to the people of the community. People gathered by the hundreds when we arrived, welcomed us singing and joining hands to take us to their newly built school. Tears were seen throughout all that exited the vans, emotions flooded our souls and changed us in that moment! What we didn’t know nor understand was how the next few days would change us and move us in ways that were unforeseen!
Building days were particularly emotional whether it was the fathers from the community helping to build a path that would later be paved to the outdoor washrooms from the school, painting with the Momma’s or planting the hundreds of trees on the school grounds people from two drastically different Continents / Cultures and Race came together as one. Language barriers became obsolete, emotional bonds were created through blood, sweat and tears of pain raising 80-100 lbs stones that would line the path to the washroom, holes that were dug and sanding that was done on the wall within the school. The kids began working alongside each other white and black with the same mindset; ‘Together we CAN do it’.
One of the most incredible moments and something I still see, hear and feel more then a week later was when one Momma and a North American Donor found a common ground and love of the song ‘Amazing Grace’. They sang together in two languages, the crowd gathered and at that moment it was as if time stopped, as if humanity said “We are one, we are strong and we can do anything together”. Words cannot express the true moment in time…..you just had to be there!
One moment for me that was sentimental was being told I would get the oppertunity to share some of our Write to Give books with the teachers and students for their schools library. I always thought it was a fantastic concept and notion to Write for others and give back somehow, but being able to walk up to the schools bag in hand with 20+ Write to Give books, authored by Lakewood and Hagersville Elementary School children amongst’ other Canadian and America children and teachers was beyond fathomable! I am still trying to absorb that moment and cannot describe it and do it justice! I fought back tears, quivers of emotion during the 10-15 minute span that was touching, emotional and inspiring.
The kids were so incredibly excited to see brand new books! I actually seen a few roll the pages through their fingers, nose sniffing the smell of the new books, inhaling as if it was Grandma’s Thanksgiving Dinner. The Kenyan teachers eyes filled with tears of joy and pride when receiving the Write to Give books, I was embraced as if I was a long lost family member for bringing books…..seriously bringing books! Some of the kids actually tried running away with the books, but others stopped them and motioned for them to return them to the teachers so everyone could enjoy them within the schools library of roughly 100 books.
This was my piece of the pie that took me into something that I didn’t foresee; this moment bonded me and tied me to the school, the teachers and kids. My friend was right; I was tied and emotionally attached to Kenya and Africa in that moment! I cannot say enough about hope grateful and honored to be part of this incredible, inspiring adventure! Thank you soooo much Amy, Stu and Carey!
Looking ahead into this Write to Give program I want to share and say that for anyone intrigued and interested, take a leap of faith and just do it! The back end of things is beyond worth it. What I was able to experience has inspired me to do more and without a shadow of doubt this program is making a Village Impact!
Amy and Stu had re-branded their non-profit to ‘Village Impact’ prior to this trip, such a fantastic name! The impact within the school communities is beyond words…but I did hear through one amazing kid; Eriksson (whom is 19) that “What you all have done is brought back HOPE to our communities”. Hope….this is still trickling through me.
Hope is described as; “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen” or “grounds for believing that something good may happen in the future” and yes, there is a new hope within these incredible communities; an inspiring movement where the children and families can experience education, learning and the world at their fingertips. Hope that they can be anything and anyone with the education they are obtaining. Hope to become one whom will inspire and give back to their communities, extend outward into the Country, Continent and even throughout the Globe! With hope, anything is possible, everything is a possibility and the sky is the limit!
While flying above the clouds on route home I had this glimmer or hope myself that I would return one day in the near future with my family to share this experience, but within a different role….I know deep down that from seeing the hope and belief within the eyes of those Kenyan kids that I will return one day, they will make the days ahead challenging yet emotionally worth it as I find a way to make an impact myself. This has been an experience of a lifetime, a journey that was life altering and has motivated me to pursue new creative and innovative concepts to reach out and help others to continue this movement of Hope alongside Village Impact!
I came to Kenya, Africa on slightly different terms then others, yet left inspired by the Kenyan’s and North Americans alike! I have never met so many incredible people with hearts made of gold, mindsets similar in nature to my own. Winning this trip was incredible, but I have to say I whole heartily believe that it was meant to be! I’ve been inspired and emotionally charged like never before….a new mindset and outtake on life itself and motivated to take a leap of faith and try the entrepreneur route in order to give back like they had, and even more so got the opportunity to see them all experience!
I need to do a big shout out to a few incredible people on the ground in Kenya, Africa; Edidah, Samuel, Philip and Irene! What you guys do is amazing, continue to push the limits and boundaries and do what you all do best! Hope starts with you all, inspire others with your work and hard effort everyday!
To all the incredible people I met along the way; thanks for taking me into your group, you are all inspiring and incredible in so many ways! I absolutely come home to Canada with a newfound faith in humanity for doing what is right and good throughout the globe because of you all!
Finally a huge thanks to Amy, Carey and Stu for all that you do….there are no words, just continue your cause as it truly has made a Village Impact!