Taru is a little village in the middle of nowhere in Kenya. (Yes, that's the logistical, ACTUAL location of it too) It is what you would call the "bush of Africa." I thought we may die on the two hour drive from Mombasa, but alas, Mbote, got us there safely.
When we arrived in town, the little kids turned around, saw our van and chased after us yelling, "Mzungu's! Mzongus!" (meaning "white people") This is Kenya Keys sixth year being back, so the people recognized who we were--and the van. I was, once again, overcome with emotion. (Get used to this emotion idea, FYI). It had hit. Again. I was here. I was actually here. These kids were running with us as we approached Joseph and Mwaka's home. We got out of the van and were swarmed. My hair was down so Mulongo and her friends instantly started playing with it--totally amused with this chunk of blonde horse hair. I had to laugh. I had a feeling I needed to get used to this. Words can't describe how funny the neighborhood kids were. They were used to us "Mzungus" and their English was wonderful. They just wanted to play and play and PLAY. It helped that they were, most definitely, some of the most beautiful children I had ever seen.
Playing with my hair.
Posing for the camera.
The boys starting climbing up the trees BAREFOOT. The little girls wanted to play hand games. I had to stop for a second and soak it in.
The next day, we woke up and Mwaka had cooked us breakfast. She was up at 4 am cooking for us. Joseph is the head of Kenya Keys in Kenya--and Mwaka is his wife. That is where we ate all of our meals. (more than them later). Mwaka's chai tea is TO DIE FOR. I am craving it currently, actually. We then went to the Catholic Church. Oh, how I wish I could upload the video from church. It was absolutely, undeniably, the most amazing church EVER. Not only do these people worship God, but they celebrate Him as well. The choir sang (which in itself was phenomenal). They had little girls dancing down the aisle in their little outfits. Everybody was standing up and singing. It was amazing. It was probably the three longest hours of my life, but you know what? I loved it. I found that I looked forward to watching these people worship. Kenyans all have such a natural sense of rhythm. All of them can dance. All of them can sing. It's not fair. I found every Sunday I was standing in the back with the Taru students dancing, or watching the choir, or playing with the kids. Not exactly the most reverent moment for me, but I relished in watching them worship. These people believed in something--and they celebrated it. They walk from many kilometers away to sit and worship, to believe in something better and bigger than themselves. To give themselves a little bit of hope.
as we walked home in the blistering heat, I had recalled what my friend had told me about Africa. "Remember to take it all in. And write down everything that you are feeling." I thought to myself: "ridiculously hot. I have sweat dripping down my face. My hair is wet due to the sweat--it's up in a bun with a headband. THAT'S what I'm feeling." Haha. But it was okay. I didn't care. That's the wonderful part about those people. They do not care what you look like.
Their judgment of people is based on their actions, on who they are. Isn't that how it should be? We walked through a compound of homes with their Shamba's (gardens), down the long path as I sang with all of the children.
Homes. Which, actually, are considered nicer homes in Taru.
All of the children played with tires.
chickens, children, and a compound. (three points for alliteration).
I had noticed, though, that I was much quieter. I had realized that I was in Kenya, essentially, by myself. All of the other interns sort of had a buddy. Whenever I got sad, I shook the thought instantly and reminded myself that I was lucky to be there. Regardless, it was difficult. I won't paint a cookie cutter portrait of this experience. It was hard. No, it was REALLY hard. I experienced and felt things that are difficult for me to write. I was hurt by other members of the group. I have seen children sick and suffer. But as I sat in that church, as I walked home that day, I knew that my life was already gonna be different because of Taru, Kenya.