A Decade in Kenya
A decade. Ten years. Such a neat, tidy package of time. But so boundless in what it can hold. The years pass. A decade marches us from one era to another.
This last decade took my mother from being her eager, active self, to being a faint shadow, to being gone; the loss a fathomless cavern. The decade took my daughter from being a grad student, in Kenya with me for our first time, to becoming a wife, and soon after, a mother of two constantly moving little boys.
A decade ago, when first I arrived on the parched piece of African soil that would become home to me, I was 52 years old. Little did I know that place would draw me back over and over, like a moth to the light. And that even when I was thousands of miles away, it would occupy my every thought.
A week in Africa can be more vibrantly seared into your memory, than a whole year at home. Why? Why does it so captivate? Ensnare? Demand? Own? I found it inescapable from the beginning; the wonders, the suffering, the boundless joy.
“Great is the power of memory, exceedingly great, a spreading, limitless room within me”, said St. Augustine.
This “limitless room of memory” started with the children, so eager for any piece of learning, their stomachs empty, their joy boundless, propelling themselves eagerly into a life of sure uncertainty.
A small idea, the sponsorship of a child and a teacher, grew into the organism that is now Kenya Keys. It happened in tiny steps, one young mind at a time, ignited with hope, imbued with possibility, driven by love.
And I have had the privilege of watching the magic unfold, as I have told the stories of these children, as they have gone from children to adults. Like looking through a kaleidoscope, their faces in the swirl in my mind. Their faces, and the faces of those that have joined them. White and black. Luvuno, the six year old, belting out her lusty song, Cambri, proudly holding up the letter she received from her student in Kenya, “Who wouldn’t want to sponsor one of these kids?” she asks with fervor. Chaka, a recent graduate, proudly sending me a photo, of himself at his new job as mechanical technician at a manufacturing plant. Barbara, 98 years old, saying “Rinda, I do want to sponsor this new student! Let’s see what he can do!” Flora, injured by an elephant attack nine years ago, now graduating from college to teach math and chemistry in high school, her smile wide and bright. Missy, organizing a school run to raise money for textbooks, for Mtulu, the small school where children meet under trees. Or Kabani, Kenya Keys field administrator, calling to say he has a great idea for a Girl to Girl mentorship program he wants to start.
Taking on a life of its own, it swirls in beauty, generosity, growth and wonder. I may have given birth to this creation, but countless others have done the nurturing; the Kenyans taking the seeds and flourishing beyond all imagination, the wazungu (white friends) igniting the limitless potential. A genesis, a swirl, too beautiful to even describe.
A decade is a defined unit of measure. But it is also a boundless, limitless room of memories; a story still unfolding.
Thank you to all who have part of an amazing ten years!