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Benji’s Experience In Kenya

The community in Mumias is amazing, everyone was so welcoming and friendly. I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing football, Frisbee, hand printing, colouring and singing with the local children.

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The Musungu (white man) returns
December 2016

I have been volunteering for The Nasio Trust in rural western Kenya. This is my last posting here as I return to England.

“Maybe it is fatigue or the thought of returning home. Either way I find myself bouncing along unmade roads on my way to the airport with a lump in my throat and tears running down my face.

In the early morning light I spot a group of women having a gossip at the water well surrounded by yellow 10 gallon drums for the days water to be transported home. A kid chewing on a stick of sugar cane, fallen from the sugar cane truck which thunders by. He smiles and waves as we pass. A man energetically attacks the long grass with a machete: his contribution to civic pride. Another day starts.

In the seven weeks here I have seen and experienced some extraordinary things. Adults and children struggling with withered limbs, the result of Polio: something that we last saw in the UK generations ago and which is entirely avoidable. Kids and families blighted by Jiggers a terrible infection of the foot and hand. Families with literally no food and their only belongings being the clothes they stand in. And the children: orphaned by the blight of HIV Aids and fending for themselves. It’s a tough world.

The economic reality is stark. GDP per capita in Kenya is barely 3% of that we enjoy in the U.K. Put another way the cost of that cup of coffee in Costas represents 2 or more days work to put food on the table for a family in Musanda. The forces of globalisation will only stretch the gap further. The natural reaction is to feel pity.

Yes conditions are tough but there is something more. A spirit of humanity that is humbling.

But spend some time here and the perspective alters. Yes conditions are tough but there is something more. A spirit of humanity that is humbling. Christian values to the fore: non judgemental, not a scintilla of envy or anger but a sincere acceptance of life as it is. And the hope that God or whoever will make it right in the end.

As I gather my bags to depart the team I have been working with gather to say goodbye. I am presented with a wild African print shirt that I never quite got round to buying. And other gifts too. Along with the thanks, a prayer is said for me. Quite beautiful and sublime.

I arrived with lofty ambitions of ‘giving something back’ As I depart I realise I was entirely wrong. I have learned much about myself and the fortitude of human spirit and well, humanity. The exchange seems entirely unfair now.

As I arrive at the airport. I am in the queue with other Europeans. I suddenly realise that these are the first white faces I have seen in seven weeks.

If you have never done voluntary work, then maybe try it. You may well be surprised at what you learn.

Thank you team Nasio Trust”

This story is listed in: About Nasio, Fund-raiser stories

"The Nasio Trust has transformed children from nothing to something. Those who were shelter-less now have shelter, those who were not going to school are now going to school."
Farida (Social worker)

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Publishing in Africa at the London Book Fair By Katie Isbester

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