Forever Changed – Sharing Tears with Siuda: Intern Post by Maile Richardson
I’ve been told an experience like this will change you. I’ve never known that kind of change until now. I have officially fallen in love with Kenya. Its lush landscape, following a season of heavy rain, is stunning! It is rich with culture and traditions but even more than all of that, I have truly fallen in love with the people.
Living in the village amongst the people was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. There was not a day that went by that I wasn’t greeted with a bright smile and a warm welcome. Most of all I was impressed and awed by the people’s stories and I was truly touched by the outpouring of love I felt.
It was amazing to me that in this small community the people had formed a committee and a board creating a relief fund for other needy members of the community. Although they all have very little, I was touched to know that they each donate a small amount to the fund and they provide someone deserving in the community with some aid when they are struggling. I was amazed to see instances such as this. Seeing the dedication these teachers have to their students, and students who return attentive and eager to learn is truly humbling. I was quickly drawn to this community because I saw a very united community, with people who are all diligently working to love and provide for their families and help build their community.
The people in this community certainly do have a special light about them as they revel in the simple life, teaching the most important principles to their families, like hard work, supporting family members and most importantly EDUCATION. It is these principles that are so emphasized here that oftentimes become diluted in the typical American home due to the many distractions such as advanced technology we so conveniently enjoy.
The family structure here is so appealing because they emphasize the importance of family and really being a support group for one another, working with and amongst close friends and family. It was while playing with one of these close knit groups of neighborhood kids nightly where I instantly connected with 11-yr old Siuda who would laugh and play with me every night ’til bed time. She is a beautiful, smart girl who really opened her heart to me and she had a huge impact on me as we became better friends. And it was the day I left when she wrapped her arms around me and said, “I miss you already, promise you won’t forget me” when my heart slightly broke and with tears streaming down both our faces I left a different person than the one I was when I arrived.
I am filled with gratitude for the many life lessons these extraordinary people have taught me. Originally I planned on coming here to help change people’s lives, when in fact they forever changed mine.