Trip Experiences ft. Ms. Burch

My Kisaruni Experience, June 2013

My husband, Bill, traveled fairly extensively in Africa a number of decades ago. Naturally, I have heard MANY stories about his amazing experiences there, and I always imagined that one day he and I would travel to sub-Saharan Africa together, so that he could “show” me the Africa he knew and loved. Life works in mysterious ways, however, and in June 2013, rather than getting on a plane to Kenya with Bill, I instead traveled there with eight Casti students and three Casti colleagues.

People often ask what made the biggest impression on me during my trip. My memories are overwhelming; there are so many aspects of this journey that I never want to forget — getting to know an amazing group of young women; forging even stronger relationships with colleagues; working side-by-side with our Kisaruni counterparts; admiring the grace and self-confidence demonstrated by our young Me to We facilitators; the almost surreal safari experience. But if I have to narrow it down to one thing, I would have to say that the kind, open, warm, and welcoming nature of the Kenyan people we met left the greatest impression on me.

As we traveled from the Free the Children compound in Roslyn to their camp next to the Kisaruni School, I could not help but notice that practically every man, woman, and child we passed on the road smiled and waved at us. Children came running toward us, yelling “Jambo, jambo!” as we drove by. I was entranced. And when we first arrived at our camp, every member of the staff was there to introduce themselves to us. These were the people who would take care of our every need throughout our stay, always with smiles on their faces. We spent an enlightening morning with two “mamas” who accompanied us on our water walk. I remember feeling a sense of wonder, acceptance, and love when one of them took my hand as we walked together down the dirt path.

At last, the time came for our first afternoon at Kisaruni. The Casti girls for whom this was a second, or even third trip there, were beside themselves with excitement at seeing the Kisaruni girls they had met on a previous trip. The rest of us eagerly anticipated an experience we knew would be extraordinary. I will never forget the moment we arrived on campus and were greeted by a tidal wave of Kisaruni students. Their welcome was like nothing I had ever experienced. They didn’t know me, and I didn’t know them; yet, they treated me like a long-lost friend. As we filed into the dining hall for our first formal event, I saw that the room was already very crowded and I did not immediately see a place to sit. One of the Kisaruni students noticed that I looked a bit lost; she immediately took me by the hand, and found a place for me.

I am very privileged to live where I live. I appreciate the many opportunities I have had, and the fact that I want for nothing. Yet, for all that, we are, in many ways, disconnected from one another in this society. And so, as I look back on this trip, and revisit my memories, I feel a profound sense of gratitude for the gift of human connection I experienced at Kisaruni.

Kathy Burch 

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment