Guinea fowl: 2
This post is about the friendships I’ve made in Kenya- not with fellow Peace Corps Volunteers, I have those too- but with Kenyans.
As a Peace Corps volunteer there are times when we face loneliness. When I first got to site it was a bit of a shock. Here I was in a foreign country, all alone, with a nebulous job- work on improving the health of the community, transfer skills, empower people. Granted I had been through training, but once I got to site there was so much freedom and flexibility. My job and service here could be whatever I wanted to make of it. It was a bit overwhelming and I wasn’t really sure where to begin at first. I had to get to know the community, their problems, health issues and start to build relationships. Living on the Coast, there are much fewer PCV’s, so I had to work hard to build friendships with Kenyans. This is a big part of why I came here anyway, and it’s one of the goals of Peace Corps. It took a long time to form these great friendships with Kenyans and they are people who have forever changed my life.
The thought of having to say goodbye to any of them is really hard. I’m reminded of a close friend in America who once told me that “friendships are like stars, sometimes they shine brighter and sometimes a little fainter, but they are always there.”
The Gambo family-
The kids range in age from 6 months-11, so only the oldest one, Phillip, can understand the English spoken in the movies. But they love all the action, especially the Quidditch scenes. It lights up my life to have the children around and I look forward to a point in my life when I’m ready to have my own children. I see how the Gambo parents love their children, how they work hard at being good parents and try to raise their children to be good people and it warms my heart. No matter what country you live in, be it Kenya or America, love for your child is universal. You want them to grow up to be good people and to have a better life than you had. They work hard and sacrifice for their children so that they have the best opportunities despite their limited financial resources. They are really great people and have taught me so much about parenting and life in general.
I met her through one of the nurses at the clinic where I work. She lives in a nearby village and is mostly a stay-at-home mom but also sells beans and chapati in the evenings to people passing by her house. She has been so much fun. We instantly bonded and have a regular practice of spending the whole day together chatting, cooking and watching Bollywood movies. I had never seen a Bollywood movie before because of my general dislike of musicals; but I’ve come to find out that they can be pretty enjoyable to watch. We talk about everything from our personal relationships to our faiths. We come from different faiths, I am Episcopalian and she is Muslim, but I really enjoy the conversations we have on this topic. She has shared so much about how her faith has impacted her life, her marriage and her children’s lives and I feel so honored that she has shared those stories with me.
Steve & Anne-
There are many other people that I haven’t mentioned here specifically, but have made an impact on me during my service and my life. In general my whole community has been really wonderful and supportive throughout my service. When the time comes for me to leave my village it will be a very difficult task. When I think about leaving all of these people whom I’ve met and developed friendships with over the course of my service, I’m reminded of this Pueblo Indian Prayer I was once given by a colleague before I left to join the Peace Corps:
“Hold on to what is good, even if it is a handful of earth. Hold on to what you believe, even if it’s a tree that stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, even if it’s a long way from here. Hold on to your life, even if it’s easier to let go. Hold on to my hand, even if someday I’ll be gone from you.”
I’m not sure what will come next for me, as there are a number of options on the table and different paths I can take. But I will for sure update this blog once a decision has been made and I begin a new or continue with a journey.