As we travel home, Team SMILE would like to share our personal reflections about the wonderful, once in a lifetime, experience that we have all enjoyed.
We have really valued the support that you have shown to us in our posts up to now, and hope that you enjoy these reflections and think of us as we travel home. The posts will be grouped in our 'travel families' starting with Mr. Hamilton's family, then Alice's family, then 'The Doc's'...
Mr. Hamilton What has stood out for me has been the relationships and connections between people. The 24 young people have developed an incredible bond as they have lived and worked together. Watching them grow in confidence has also been incredibly rewarding. Kain This experience has expanded my perspective on life and challenged me in more ways than I ever thought possible. The drive to Oltiasika was a pivotal point of my Kenya experience as I was able to see, first-hand, the juxtaposition between extreme poverty and our Western wealth. Eve “What challenges are faced by girls in your culture?” Never has a question embarrassed me so much, having previously been presented with the difficulties which dominate the lives of the girls at Oltiasika Primary School. The fact that their challenges limit their education prospects and ultimately dictate their future, really hit home for me. The ability of the girls (in both Oloosuyian and Oltiasika) to persevere with their education, with an enthusiasm and vigour, is nothing short of inspiring. Jessica G My trip Kenya has been eye-opening. I have made many new friendships, not only with the members of the team, but also with the girls at Oloosuyian. Some highlights of my trip have been the netball match that we played against the girls at Oltiasika Primary School, the many songs and dances that we learned at Oloosuyian, and the nights we enjoyed playing board games and doing ‘family challenges’. Jess M Spending the past 20 days in Kenya has not only changed the way I see the world but has also changed me as a person. I have made life-long friendships which I will never forget. Being an only child, I found it difficult to constantly be surrounded by people, but it has been an unforgettable experience watching myself grow.
Alice Church for me was the highlight because the people have so much joy and enthusiasm. I loved watching our team interacting with the girls and getting fully involved in all the dances and songs. Anna Something that I have noted about everyone that I met in Kenya is that they all appreciate the simplest things. I have realised that I do not need to feel guilty about the things that I have, so long as I can appreciate them as much as the girls at Oloosuyian appreciate everything that they have. Niamh Over the course of this trip, I have learnt so much from so many different people. The girls at Oloosuyian Secondary School have shown me how to be more appreciative of what I have.
Will This trip has certainly been life changing, and I am so humbled to have been part of such an amazing team. People out here really value relationships and family above all else. It is a strong life lesson that you don't need the materialism of our world back home, or money, to enjoy life. Amber The strength of faith here hit me hard. The local Kenyans sing to and praise God, whether they be at church or at work, and they do it with so much passion. They have so much love for God and see everything as a blessing.
The Doc I have lots of memories of this trip. The welcomes that we received everywhere we went, the singing and dancing by both sets of pupils at Oloosuyian, the work goals being achieved, the games and fun in the evenings and the emotional farewell at school. Oltiasika was another highlight - does a more beautiful place exist? Conor Looking back on the trip, my outlook on life has changed drastically. The warm welcomes we received were overwhelming. Getting to know the rest of Team SMILE has been great. Many new friendships have bloomed, and everlasting memories have been made.
Naomi It has been an amazing experience to see a new country, make new friends and encounter new things. The Kenyan people have also helped me to recognise how much we should praise and thank God. He has given us everything, from friendships to faith and family. Jeannie I never understood how someone that you have only known for such a short time could become such a massive part of your life. I feel like I have made lasting memories with some of the Oloosuyian girls. Amy I was always very aware of the challenges facing young girls in rural Africa, but to witness them first-hand was truly humbling. Before this trip, I didn't fully appreciate running water, let alone the education that I am receiving. Seeing how the girls of a similar age in Kenya value their time at school, despite their countless obstacles, has changed my perspective.
Team Smile has been posting regular blog updates throughout their time in Kenya.