This excerpt was taken from an awareness video I constructed back in 2009 with the purpose of weakening the negative disparity that separates knowledge from perception in Africa. Posted on my personal fundraising website, the video soon became a symbolic mission statement of thepromotion of positive information and initiatives that are producing change within the continent, and my desire to be a part of it.
Growing up with a fervent passion for travel and the incessant desire to volunteer, I combined my two ambitions and set out to be a conduit of change. I had been inspired by the documentary series, A Long Way Down, which saw actor Ewan McGregor and his friend to travel through 18 countries from John O’Groats in Scotland to Cape South, South Africa over the course of three months on their motorbikes. It was through their documentation of the Maasai tribes in Kenya, that I made the final decision on my destination.
Through International Volunteer Headquarters, I found an organization offering a diverse variety of locations and programs ranging from Costa Rica’s Turtle Conservation to female empowerment in India. The organization’s founder, Daniel Radcliffe (not the Harry Potter actor), offers an affordable, flexible, and inclusive volunteer network. Its focus is to encourage heightening awareness of culture and international issues while allowing the freedom to travel and integrate living with the indigenous people of the regions.
Despite my lack of knowledge of the culture and customs in that region, the heavy costs that would be incurred, my full-time job and the fact I would be traveling entirely by my lonesome, I did my due diligence on researching the necessities, planning the time off and seeking out advice from the local Kenyan embassy before moving forward. I crafted an inch thick guidebook that contained everything from copies of my plane tickets and passport, to basic Kiswahili phrases. I had no idea what to truly expect, but I went into this journey with an open mind and sense of adventure, knowing that it would in some way impact my life.
After months of preparation, items neatly packed and travel medication on standby, I was eager and ready to embark on my month-long journey to Kenya to volunteer in a rural Maasai village.
What I didn’t anticipate however, was how making a difference in the lives of others would enhance my own.
When it came time to step off the plane in Nairobi, the earthy aroma of the ochre dust instantly permeated my sense of smell. The endless hustle of East Africa’s most populated city was apparent from the first cab ride through the capital. Although the faces were unlike what I was accustomed to back home in Ottawa, Canada, the world suddenly felt smaller as I witnessed their welcoming smiles. Traversing past the Great Rift Valley on my way to my host family in Kajiado, the vast African skies transcended rays of crisp golden light on the Flat-top Acacia trees. This Journey to Kenya was just beginning, where it would take me, I would soon find out.
Continue to tune into the Journey to Kenya 6 part series…