“God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.” This was one of the first things I learnt in Kenya as I heard it from many people who greeted each other using this phrase. I have chosen to start this narrative with it because it deeply resonates with me. I want to remind you, dear reader, of this important truth that we tend to forget.
When I was asked to write about my experience in Mananja I felt very honoured, but I was also very scared. How could I narrate such a life changing month in just a few words? Well, I will try. I owe it to the people who have shared this period with me and who have taught me so much.
I grew up listening to many stories that my father and my uncle told my siblings and I about Kenya. I felt envious of their passion and nostalgia and I wanted to get to know more about the place that had impacted their lives so greatly. My uncle, Prof. Javier Aranguren, first came into contact with Strathmore University in 2015 when he spent his sabbatical leave here. His experiences and interactions with Kenyan children led him to found Karibu Sana, a project in support of Kenyan children. You can read more on his journey here. I therefore did not think twice when the invitation to travel to Kenya came. To be honest, I hadn’t even read what the project was about; I just wanted to travel to Kenya. But at the end of it, our group of about 35 people, both Kenyans and Spaniards, renovated through painting two schools, assisted in the final stages of construction of staff quarters and helped in the expansion of a church.
We arrived at night, so we could not see much of the country. It was only until the next morning that I realized I was surrounded by endless nature. There were days that we could even see Mt. Kenya floating in the sky. I have never been in such a place. But what I realized later is that the beauty I witnessed didn’t solely stem from the landscapes, but rather because of the people. Their culture, their community, everything was so human and yet so holy. I find it challenging trying to explain this to people; I cannot find the words.
Kenya has taught me a lot. I realized that I was there to learn from others, that there is always something you can learn from anybody, even from the children, who proved to be my best Kiswahili teachers. I remember the last day, in which the teenagers were thanking us for all the classes we gave them. I told them that it was nothing compared to how much I had learned from them. I also realized that there is nothing more fulfilling than offering yourself for others. When this is your purpose, barriers such as language, race or culture disappear, and only then can you create real human connections.
Honestly, when the month ended, I did not want to go back home. I had never experienced such meaningful happiness. The people I had worked with became my family and the place I lived in became my home. I now understand that good can be done everywhere, even in my country and with those around me. We are all children of God, which makes everyone deserving of love and purpose.
I want to end by saying Asante sana to everyone that made this experience possible and worked so hard to make it as meaningful as it was. Special thanks to Universidad Villanueva and Strathmore, and the people behind it. Thank you for reminding me what a gift is to be alive.
This article was written by Mayi Aranguren, a Spanish Law and International Relations student at ICADE.
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