“Concrete Beds” by Alayna Crane
Do you know that feeling each morning when your alarm goes off and you know you should get up, but it is the last thing you want to do because of how comfortable and warm your bed feels? Most of us have had a bed for all of our lives. It has become a common, almost unnoticed amenity that is there for us to enjoy, but nothing that we might think about on a daily basis. For most of us, a bed is an obvious comfort that we expect to have. I have never considered owning a bed to be something that I should thankfully acknowledge everyday as I wake up from or return to after a long day.
Well, at least not until I went to Kenya.
Taru, Kenya is a different world. Everything that I think of as an expected comfort has now turned into an occasional luxury. This became most apparent when we visited a humble and gracious primary school called Egu.
As we arrived, we were greeted with a beautiful Kenyan celebration that is sure to make you feel like family. Shortly after we were taken to an area where new dorms had been constructed for the students who stay over-night to continue their studies. There was a memorable ribbon cutting and sounds of laughter and cheering that I was sure the nearby villages could hear. Based on the smiles and excitement, you would have thought we had just cut the ribbon in front of a huge mansion made to house the entire school and more! As we turned around to enter their new dorm, cheering still audible, we set foot inside and looked at the large open space. “Where are the beds?” I thought to myself, concluding that it must not be completely finished yet. As we walked around the open floor plan we noticed there were thin straw mats laid side by side along the concrete ground. I thought to myself, “Maybe the mats are to keep the floor clean from sand?” As the staff spoke, they told us that the students have been staying here over-night and that they love the new building that allows them to sleep at the school.
No, the straw on the ground was not for upkeep purposes, it was their beds. Then I looked back again at the smiling faces behind me and their complete gratitude for this dorm where they could sleep safely. It’s humble moments like these that you realize you have been blessed beyond measure and didn’t even know it. We each took turns laying on the woven mats to experience what sleeping there would be like.
It was concrete. We were laying on concrete. Those children are laying on concrete.
Every night they return to this beautiful dorm, only to lay on hard, unforgiving floor. No matter how you lay, there is no comfortable position on a concrete floor. They do this because they value their education over a comfortable place to sleep. Again, I looked over at their faces as I was trying out their beds and there was complete joy, constant smiling, laughing and excitement.
What a pure moment of which to be a part.
I laid on a concrete bed for 3 minutes and this is what I learned:
- My bed is no longer an unnoticed amenity, but a beautiful luxury that I will never take for granted.
- Gratitude is true happiness – to smile, cheer and love.
- Education is worth the sacrifice.
- To be humble is to be strong.
- The children of Egu are a determined, deserving people.
If I could have given those children beds I would have done it in a heartbeat. There is a saying, “Someone can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” I believe those children can have the luxury of beds. Not just from one person funding it, but from all of us coming together to give these children something that we ourselves enjoy every night. No child should have to sleep on a concrete floor. If any school is deserving of a good nights sleep, it’s this one.