Working with the Green Belt Movement in Kenya
December 4, 2009
In June 2009, a group of Lehman College students, faculty, and administrators traveled to Kenya to replace damaged trees and donate supplies and books to a local school.
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So, we took them on safari for two days in Masai Mara. We were this close to a lion eating its prey, and watching that. It was so amazing. You couldn't take your eyes off of what was happening.
Just can't believe it. And I said, "This is really a circle of life right in front of us." Who sees this everyday?
We took a trip to Kibera, which is the largest slum in all of Africa. We could hear music from a mile down the road. And we get there, and there is a bonfire lit. And there's probably a hundred people from the community. The entire community came out to welcome us and was dancing and singing and having such a good time. And they just grabbed us and pulled us in and made us dance with them.
When I got there and just seeing them and them welcoming us with song and dance, it was like, I didn't care. I just wanted to be with them.
So we went and worked with the Green Belt Movement to plant trees in Kenya.
You cut one tree down, you plant five trees.
[MUSIC: CHILDREN SINGING]
And then we had the interaction with the children, which were just amazing. Some of the stories that you hear about what these children had gone through is just heart-breaking. The school is made up of 220 rescued children. So, it could be anything from rape, from abuse, to malnutrition-- to family members who passed away due to AIDS or HIV.
These kids have nothing, and you just see them happy with nothing they have. It just made me happy at the end of the trip.
If you're feeling happy, say I'm happy.
We recycled toilet paper tubes and brought paint and magazines for them to glue on. And we put rocks and sand in them, and bells and buttons, and they made rainmakers. And they loved it.
I'm always thinking about them, one way or another.
I saw the children's faces, and I saw what I was getting myself into. I was like, I need to do this.
You know, I, as a staff member, who've done so many of these different trips with the students, came back completely changed and ready to look at sustainability issues versus just giving stuff as philanthropy effort to a country.
The world is a-- is a very beautiful and very broken place. What it really means to be a human being is to try to give yourself to causes that bring out the beauty and address the brokenness.
I would say that almost every person came back a changed individual in some way.
One thing is to say, you're an adult. And another thing is to experience something like this, and come back and have a whole new perspective on life.
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