Tuesday, July 14

A Year (or Two) in Kenya: Raison d'Etre

Now, two full days deep into my term in Nakuru, seems like a terrible time to consider exactly why I'm doing this. Seems more like something I should have thought about maybe a few months ago when I was making the commitment. Or maybe a year or two back when I began to actively consider a period of service after graduating from Gonzaga. Seems, too, like this is a bit of a habit.

At their most essential, my reasons for returning to the International Humanity Foundation and dedicated service are the same: when the advantaged and privileged offer what they can, in whatever way they can, to those who have enjoyed fewer opportunities, I believe it is the right thing to do, and the only thing worth doing is the right thing.

Still, there has to be more to it than that. This is a year of my life. It may not be the biggest deal, but it is still kind of important. Working in Nakuru wasn't the only right thing to do. I could have stayed in America, a country where I speak the language and understand the culture, and served through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps or Americorps, both organizations I respect since working with members of them at House of Charity. What drew me to Kenya, a nation wholly foreign to me and a city which will take me months, if not longer, to become familiar with? The simple act of shopping, the transfer of money for goods and services, terrifies me as I consider the many possible faux pas I could commit. I only showered for the first time yesterday because I wasn't even sure what that process was.

The reason lies beyond the simple goals of service. No matter where I would have gone, I would never have ended homelessness or saved every orphan, but as negligible as my impact may have been regardless of my placement, I can be sure it would have deeper in the country where I understood the culture and could communicate easily with the majority of the people.

But the possible good I could do is only a part of why I made this choice. The other part is personal. I want to see what I'm made of. I think it is little exaggeration to say that this coming year will be one of the most demanding and difficult in my life. Not only do I need to live in this entirely new place but I also have responsibilities to over a hundred children in assuring their health and happiness. I want to know whether I can take this and how well I will respond. Will it be a resounding success? Or will I just barely limp through? Maybe I'll limp through at the beginning until finding my stride. That wouldn't be bad. I want to know, and I can think of few better opportunities than this.

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