When I signed up to join the Rotaract Clubs of Nairobi Central (RCNC) and Debrecen for their International and Community Service Project (Rangi Fest) in Namanga, I did not factor in the thrill I was in for. Suffice to say, I was not prepared for any contingency! Being the weekend of the United States of America President’s (Barrack Obama) much-anticipated visit to Kenya, the morning air was charged with overbearing silence. I left the house at 5.20am with a pep in my step, hoping to catch a matatu and be downtown by 5.45am. Unknown to me, several sections of the city including mine were cordoned off as a security measure. Consequently, I had no choice but to walk to downtown. Luckily, I came across a fellow stranded traveller who suggested we walk together through the Nairobi Arboretum. We set off, as I frantically did all I could to stall the team and have them wait for me. A little over an hour later, I had arrived but time had run out and the vehicle with the group had already left.
At this point I contemplated rushing back to bed. It occurred to me that at the end of the day, the gratification that would come from being a gift to the children at Maasai Academy would outweigh my day-long nap. I therefore grit my teeth, buckled up and decided to take the next matatu to Namanga. I caught up with the group at the Kenya-Tanzania border thirty minutes after their arrival. The warm smiles from everyone immediately soothed the tumultuous feelings of worry I’d carried on my way over.
Arrival at the Kenya-Tanzania border
Bettina Toth from the Rotaract Club of Debrecen met and welcomed us. Introductions were done, had snacks, changed to more appropriate working attire and soon afterwards started painting the walls of the classrooms. The synergy and synchronicity with which everyone worked was simply incredible! It was a practical real time case of teamwork and having fun in service.
Classrooms get a new look
A tasty lunch was prepared and served to the team thanks to the founders of the school, Mr. & Mrs. Kabati.
The most remarkable and my favourite part of the day was the afternoon, when we spent time and played games with the children. It was amazing to see eager faces light up while we talked and coaxed the shy ones into dancing with us, to listening to their most sincere dreams and ambitions for their futures. I could not help but be moved. It was heartwarming to see them receive school supplies with great delight and just as heartbreaking to see their little sad faces as we left.
Exciting games with the children
One girl also received a year’s supply of sanitary towels, undergarments, bathing soaps and a health education booklet courtesy of RCNC’s signature initiative, ‘The A Girl A K A Year Sanitary Towels Project,’ (https://www.facebook.com/HPadsForGirls). They walked us to the bus station, posed for photos and waved as we drove off.
A one-year supply of sanitary towels, undergarments, soap and health education booklet
What I now call “phase three” of this project was perhaps the most entertaining part of it all. In lieu of making the trip back to Nairobi that night, we were hosted by Caleb Ontieri of RCNC in Kitengela. He opened up his home and made us feel extremely welcome while attending to our every need. We played games and had simulating, thought-provoking conversations amidst battling fatigue and sleep into the wee hours of the morning.
Morning ushered news of road closures so we all kicked back and relaxed, as a couple of the guys went out to buy a cake to surprise Caroline Njoki (an RCNC Alumnus) for her birthday. The party was pulled off without a hitch. We got to enjoy the delicious cake, birthday jig and celebrate a new year with her. The day wore on as we talked and ate some more. As we got ready to leave at around 5pm, Njoki got stuck in a room due to a faulty door lock. The next two hours were grueling and excruciating especially for the men, who were using brains and tools in an effort to free her. They finally managed to break the door and let her out. Soon afterwards we were on our way back to Nairobi, ready to face the upcoming week.
Celebrating Njoki’s birthday
If there is something I learned that weekend, is solidarity through everything. RCNC continues to be a great example of that not only in their service but also in their relationships. I was honoured to meet several people who are driven to make an impact and leave their mark in the world and for that I am very grateful.
Happy day, happy faces
Rangi Fest was a joint International and Community Service Project between Rotaract Clubs of Nairobi Central (Kenya) and Debrecen (Hungary) to give Maasai Academy a deserving bright look through painting. The activity was carried out on 25th July and thereafter a sleep over in Kitengela. The Rotary Club of Debrecen generously provided funds to purchase the paint and brushes. The school located in Namanga, Tanzania was started by Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Kabati to provide education to the children living in the orphanage also run by the couple.
RCNC wishes to thank guests, its members and those of the Rotaract Clubs of Debrecen, Kenyatta University, the University of Nairobi and Rotary Club of Debrecen for their participation and contribution.