Faye’s Story – 5 Trips & Counting!
It all started January 2013 when I bounced through the doors of my house (aged 15), turned to my Mum and said “I’m going to Kenya”. She looked at me and said “oh really” – I don’t think she quite knew how serious I was being, but I knew that year in October I would be boarding the plane. Little did I know how much of a difference it would make to the next 7 years of my life. My friend had gone the previous year, and asked me if I would like to go, and I knew straight away I had to.
Following on from this day I did many fundraisers! Bag packing, concerts, car boot sales, family fun days, 10k runs… you name it, we did it! No matter how early we had to get up, or how long the day was I loved every single second of fundraising. I loved being with everyone, I loved knowing this was going to be my team, I loved the feeling that I was one step closer to meeting everyone in Kenya …. to meeting who I now class as my family!
I went on my first trip in October 2013, a month after I turned 16! And from the minute I stepped off that plane I fell in love with Africa. I fell in love with the music, the culture, the people! I knew one day I would return. We did so many things none of my other friends could even compare to. For example, treating a whole school from jiggers, visiting the hospital and handing out bread and milk, performing in church which is always a highlight on every trip, helping to build a house, joining in with agriculture day, teaching little lessons in the schools …. and simply just playing with the children. At this point I was still in school, reaching my last year before college but I knew I wanted to work with children, I knew I wanted to make a difference and if I couldn’t do it in Kenya then I would bring my knowledge back to the UK.
Now this trip is the one that really changed my life
Sadly, I didn’t then return until February 2016. I was in college by this point, studying Children’s Play, Learning and Development. Now this trip is the one that really changed my life. Just outside the guest house there was a family and the Mum worked for the charity. This is how I met Melvin, the little girl I sponsor. She was only 3 at the time but from the minute we saw each other there was an instant unbreakable bond, I just can’t describe it. Each day I saw her, we played together, walked to church together and I would visit her house each evening spending as much quality time with the whole family as possible. Every second is so valuable! Whenever we returned from a day out, we would go up the drive and she would be there waving and smiling at me. It was as if I’ve known her all her life, not just for a couple of days. It was only a small trip, which meant I got to spend a lot of time with the family.
In January 2017 I took my third trip. I was 19 and went with people a lot older than me, but it was my favourite trip of all. There was so much laughter and fun on this trip! We got to spend John’s birthday in Kenya. And still to this day I tell everyone how it was my favourite day in my life. We danced, we sung, we drank, we ate so much food! The band were there, I just remember the sound of the man playing the Fanta bottle. I knew one day I would spend my birthday in Kenya. 2020 was going to be the year but sadly with everything going on I can’t. I am so so gutted. Melvin and her family were at the party! Their smiles lit up the place, pure happiness glowing. Little did I know this would be the last time I saw Melvin for two and a half years.
Going into March 2018 it was my fourth trip. I was 20 by this point. I went with 15 and 16 year olds who I hadn’t met until the day we travelled! This was a different trip from the others, I had to learn to slow down the pace. I learnt that 15 and 16 year olds who haven’t been before aren’t as used to the heat and fast pace life that I had learned to love. It was a busy trip of house building! One time the storm was so bad we had to take trips to travel back. I was in the last car home as I wanted to embrace the storm, in the half built house we had made! By the time we got back there was no water, I was covered in mud and my hair was a curly mess. But I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I didn’t want a shower, I was so tied up in everything, how amazing the day had been, how amazing tomorrow would be – a shower was just the last thing on my mind. However, the lovely people at the guest house insisted I washed, and boiled water for me! And I just remember going to sleep so content. On this trip Melvin and her family had moved house. They moved an hour away so I couldn’t go see them. Heartbroken doesn’t even explain it. I always told myself you are being dramatic. But honestly, when you have a bond like that it’s hard not to become upset. Every day I just hoped and prayed I could see her, but sadly that didn’t happen. I gave my gifts to Dean who was working there at the time and he safely passed them on, providing me with photos once I got back in the UK. But not seeing Melvin made the wait so worth it. The day we left we went to hand over a house. I remember feeling quite deflated after this trip – I had the best time but not seeing Melvin really took a toll on me. Knowing she was there but not there! As we drove back I remember driving past her old house feeling so sad we were about to leave and I hadn’t seen her, then suddenly I heard music! THE BAND! Oh my goodness we danced until the moment we had to leave! I cried and cried and cried! It was the send off I needed. Although I was crying because I didn’t want to leave, it really cheered me up!
It was June 2019 when I was browsing on The Nasio Trust page, looking for a child to sponsor. I hadn’t sponsored anyone because I wanted to sponsor Melvin, however she already had sponsors. So I was looking then suddenly Melvin’s face appeared. I clicked and as soon as I saw “sponsor child” I clicked it without hesitating. ‘Finally I can help her’ I thought! I had never been so excited! In September 2019 I did The Nasio Trust fire walk! It was one of those spontaneous things I had to do! It was so much fun I walked over it 3 times; I wanted to go again but the fire was dying out! I still have little marks on my feet from it to this day, but it is so worth it and more!
I knew on this trip I was going to see Melvin
I went in November 2019. Once again it was an older group and I hadn’t met the majority of them until we travelled. But they were such a lovely and welcoming group! They were so funny and they made me feel included. I knew on this trip I was going to see Melvin, we arrived on the Monday and we were going to see her on the Thursday. Every day I told them all about her. Then the day arrived… I was definitely not prepared for what was about to happen. I got out the car and I remember turning to John and saying “she won’t remember me she was only 3, she’s now 6”. As soon as she saw me she put her arms out and for the whole hour I didn’t put her down! She held on to me so tight. Apparently whenever she saw a photo of me or heard my name her face would light up, and that’s exactly what mine does too! Whenever John would pretend to say “she’s my Faye” Melvin would push him away with a great big smile on her face! We played with the ball I got her and her brothers all joined in too. At this point I realised how worth the two and a half year wait had really been! I dreaded the words “we need to go”. I carried her down the path towards the car, I knew I couldn’t cry until I had said goodbye… I couldn’t let this little girl who was looking at me with her big eyes see me cry. However, when I looked down her face just dropped, she then got down and walked away. She turned her head and dropped it into her hands, I then saw she was crying. I ran over and hugged her and cried with her. All I could think was I had made a little 6 year old girl cry. I just wanted to stay, or take her with me. Not one bit of me wanted to get in that car. But I hugged her and said my goodbyes and we then drove away and I cried for the journey back. The following Monday it was the medical centre ceremony. Jane came to me and asked if I would like the good news – she had invited Melvin’s family to the ceremony! It was the best news I could have heard! It was such a fun happy day, lots of singing and dancing, I wouldn’t expect anything less from Kenya! During the ceremony I was lucky enough to plant a tree, as the youngest member of the UK group, although I soon learnt I’m not a gardener! On our last day Nancy brought in a plaque with my name on it! I put it next to the tree, at this point tears were streaming down as we were about to leave. It’s so lovely to know a part of me is now in Kenya!
The day before we left we had another party, to celebrate Nancy’s birthday! I remember hearing the band and running straight out to dance, I don’t think I stopped at all until it was over! I remember thinking how happy I am to be dancing under the Kenyan sky with my family.
For me the hardest part is leaving Kenya. I think I’ll be ok but then suddenly the floods begin. I wish I could stay there forever. There isn’t a day that goes past that I don’t think or talk about Kenya. It has engraved itself onto my heart. I have created unbreakable bonds, friendships I will treasure forever, and experienced things which have made me appreciate life so much more in the UK. And of course, I met the most special little girl, I have a canvas in my room of me and her the day we met! Writing this has been hard…. when you have supported something for 7 years and have so much passion about it it’s hard not to get upset. I miss it so much, but I know I always have family in Kenya who are thinking of me and love me as I do them! After all, I am now half Kenyan! I have been on 5 crazy adventures to Kenya… and I’m not stopping at that. Until next time my beautiful Kenya.