#RCNCCommunityService – Kakamega in May

#RCNCCommunityService – Kakamega in May

Authored by Mercy Bolemi

When you miss a few Rotaract events, it is easy for everyone to think that you will miss the next big one too. Which is why “I hope that you won’t miss out the Kakamega Distribution” came up in many discussions through the month of April. Despite their doubts, I knew that I would be on the bus to Kakamega!

After a long week in Nairobi, no one dreads the thought of leaving town for the weekend.  Just think about it for a second, you’ve had a crazy work week and no you didn’t get through everything on your plate. But, as it turns out, that that is how things have been the past few weeks and it suddenly hits you, it never ends and yes, a weekend from the computer screen won’t hurt!

Besides the far away thought of visiting Kisumu for the first time, there was an air of excitement about a trip to Kakamega for service. I love Kakamega, I just do, so, this trip was long overdue!

Being part of the community service event is always refreshing but, we always interact with kids we can talk to… kids who understand the words that come out of our mouths and us theirs. But, this time, we’d have to communicate differently- sign language, that means learning how to say “I heart you”, “I am Hungry”, “I am sad” or “I am sorry” in a whole different way! Boy oh boy, wasn’t it amazing trying to figure out what all those rapid hand movements and facial expressions meant!!!

Remember this?

Sorry guys, I seem to be into the habit of getting ahead of myself and skip important details in the process. For example, here I am going on and on about HPads and you remain in the dark not knowing what I am referring to!

Rotary/Rotary has four active areas of service – Professional and Leadership Development, Community Service (+Fundraising), Club Service (+PR), and International Service. These are the core areas through which we become better individuals and also create impact in the society.

Service Above Self

Talking of the society, there are classes/castes and the underprivileged ones go through an unfair share of misfortunes. Unfair because there is something that we can do to change things for them. Think about a mute/deaf girl who doesn’t have much support from their family/ is orphaned/ is cast out of their home because of stigma and the belief that their physical inability is a curse, unfair, isn’t it?

 

So, rather than let these kids suffer in silence, the community service team organized for us to be distributing a year-long supply of sanitary towels to these girls. We also take clothes and stationery to these kids. The sanitary towels distribution is the Club’s signature project and we try to do all that we can.

This time, the distribution was done in partnership with the Rotaract Club of Kisumu and those guys are amazing hosts and partners.  We look forward to the next trip and partnership.

Now that I’ve caught you up with the essential nitty-gritties, let me try to give a short account of what happened. You can feel the excitement, can’t you?

So, departure time from Nairobi was 11 pm, I got picked up along the way (why go to town when the bus will pass close to your home? Well, the answer to this came to me a few minutes after boarding…. If you plan on joining a party from point zero; always have a means of catching up with the others lest you miss the whole party!)

To cut the trip short, we let the inner child come out to play for a little while!

Fast forward to Kisumu, 0600hrs….. Everything felt a little fuzzy and surprisingly, I didn’t feel any changes in the air (humidity). We got picked up by our designated hosts where we were to freshen up, take breakfast and then hit the road to Kakamega. I managed to sneak in an hour of sleep…. Yaaay!  (Trust me, when you have to make an option between eating breakfast and sleeping for an extra hour or minute, sleeping wins😝.

The journey to Kakamega was short but the sights magnificent. Woe unto you if you snuck up the hour to sleep. A few wrong turns and by noon, we were at the school. Oh my God, the happy expressions on those kids faces. They did melt my heart. Save for a few cat lovers getting a hold of and taking selfies with the school’s adorable kitten (Read Kimosop and Edna), we had a tour of the school. The head teacher laid it all on us, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It was eye opening and heart-shattering too…   Recounting the experiences of those kids made a few of us she’d tears (I bet everyone who turned to watch the invisible river down the edge was fighting back some tears…not mentioning names though *Sworn to secrecy*)

That whole experience/ information shared made me realize something, those beautiful and brilliant kids need us.

Every little thing you do out of love lights up someone else’s whole world.

Onto the other best part… learning the basics of sign language (damn, I have stiff finger joints!! 😂😂😂! But, I can ‘sign’ (is that how it is said?) my name and yours in sign language. We learnt how to express emotions of hurt, love, happiness, saying sorry, and expressing hunger in the short demo. I just might sign up for sign language classes soon!

Lesson: the biggest barrier between humans is miscommunication.

After the interesting demonstrations, we headed out to hand over the Hpads and the clothes. Lots of pictures and then, as we always do, there was a short educative session. The girls got demos of how to use the pads and I must congratulate Rtr. Cecilia Ngotho for the good work she did. She is an amazing woman. (Most of us look up to you girl! And you win in the sleeping department too). The boys learnt from the wise men among us too!

As we waited for snacks and the kids their lunch, we got to the muscle activation phase. Eva wowed in ‘Katii’, Jamal et al in Volleyball (learnt that yours truly, the Royal Jester played volleyball back then in primary and secondary school). Oh, I must say, that was not a volleyball ball…. Those kids need a ball that won’t promise to break the wrists!

It poured later while waiting for food and I bet that is where we all got our flu symptoms from. In the meantime, we interacted with the kids further and some of us had a taste of their lunch (Kunde with ugali, anyone?)

At 4 pm, it was time to head out into the night… sorry, Kisumu. That trip wasn’t without a few ‘exciting’ moments filled with boiled eggs and fruits. Story for another day peeps… we got to Kisumu at 8 pm, ate, freshened up, some retired (read Cess/ Patricia and Rosemary) then, and we took a little time to explore the night life. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas folks.

But, I will highlight a few things, Betty’s beer drenching for turning a year older, and the interesting selection of music that got some people moving their rigid bones.  Oh, and I didn’t know that pool was an interesting game until I sat down to watch the players!  😂😂😂

Sunday morning/ noon – meet up at Lwang’ni Beach for fish….  It’s one of those things you have to experience while in Kisumu. I made an observation, never in my life have I seen such aggressive fish sellers!

*As they say, all good things come to an end*

I was nostalgic for the most part of the return trip save for the beautiful tea plantations in Kericho and the impromptu photo sessions by the highway.

A special appreciation to Community Service Service teams: Mike Mutuma, Samuel Kamau, Antony Nguyai, Betty Mbaya (superwoman + birthday girl) and Jeff Chege (President RC Kisumu) and the team from the Rotaract Club of Karura.

#RotaryServingHumanity

Seeing that you missed all the fun that comes with service to humanity, what do you think- you’ll jump onto the next one, right?

Till then!

PS. This was the last sanitary towels distribution scheduled for the Rotary Year (2016/17).

 

 

 

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2 replies
  1. Nicholas Njeru
    Nicholas Njeru says:

    Am glad to hear and see that the project has grown to impact other counties.

    Am very proud of RCNC, the best club in the world!!

    Here goes a challenge to us, get one male and female member conversant with sign language in 2017/2018 Rotary year!

    Reply

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