One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Caren and her family traveled to Kenya this summer for a service trip. Caren is the President and Co-founder of The Kilgoris Project, a non-profit that runs schools, medical programs and economic development efforts in rural Kenya. We outfitted Caren’s family with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part two of their adventure.
While we involve our kids in service travel for the noblest of reasons—developing empathy and discovering the joy of helping others—I love how their experience remains uniquely childlike.
From the mouths of the four cousins, ages six through ten, their favorite things about Kenya:
1. Squealing at baboons on the side of the road- Driving from Nairobi to the rural Transmara area often brings flashes of a safari, including sightings of baboons, gazelles, giraffes and zebras.
2. Stopping for Kenyan fast food- Roadside vendors sell fire-roasted ears of maize from a coarse, starchy type of corn. It tastes like popcorn on a stick.
3. Saying good morning to the happy sisters- We stay at a convent-turned-guesthouse run by a lovely group nuns from the Little Sisters of Saint Joseph order. Their smiles and morning singing are a joy.
4. Sleeping in our “cousins room”- At the guesthouse, we turn a conference room into a dorm, with a bed for each girl. It has the feeling of a month-long sleepover.
5. Playing with the neighborhood kids in the afternoons- The guesthouse lawn makes a natural playground. Neighborhood kids drift in after school for pickup games of Frisbee and soccer, twirling hula hoops and chasing bubbles.
6. Picking passion fruit straight from the tree- The kids love the sour pucker and the availability of quick snacks.
7. Brushing our teeth with sticks- Fibers from branches of salvadora persica, known as the Toothbrush Tree, form bristles when chewed. The sticks have a spicy taste and contain a natural antiseptic.
8. Drinking soda- Some of our usual healthy habits get relaxed for travel. Rural Kenyans often serve soda, a store-bought treat, as an honor to guests. The kids know it’s polite to indulge.
9. Seeing weird, creepy things- A tourist jaunt to the Karen Blixen home, a Nairobi Museum, showed the fruits of old-style safari hunts. The décor included mounted horns, tiger- and cheetah-skin rugs and an elephant’s foot stool. Parts of the classic movie “Out of Africa” were filmed there.
10. Being silly with the little kids- Our kids often help the preschoolers when the service team is leading stories and crafts. Drawing and gluing often lead to making goofy faces and tickling.