Even though it’s been just under 2 years since my visit to Saint Monica’s Children Home (October 2010), not a month goes by where I don’t think back to all the fond memories from Kenya. Dan and I spent a month in Kenya on the tail end of our 7 months of travel in 2010. The whole entire experience was, well, “surreal”. That’s really the only way I know how to explain Kenya to someone who hasn’t been to Africa. Its truly an entirely new experience that’s hard to put into words.
I tend to travel to places where I know someone with local connections, since that always provides greater exposure and understanding of a local culture. All the circles aligned and Rocky (who needs no introduction here) happened to be traveling to the orphanage the same month Dan and I were organizing our journey to Africa. I’ve known Jeff Turner a long time, and had met Rocky several times at real estate conferences but hadn’t had a chance to spend much time with her. When I think of people I respect and look up to in this world, Jeff and Rocky are at the top of the list. Being able to visit Nairobi and spend some time at Saint Monica’s while Rocky was there was simply too good of an opportunity to pass up.
What exactly did Dan and I do at Saint Monica’s?
I believe the photos above tells the story quite well — we painted. You can see from the photos that the walls in the common area and hallway are quite high. 25 feet high in places. I tell you, obtaining a 20 foot ladder in Nairobi is not what it is in the United States. It’s not as simple as driving down to the local Home Depot (that doesn’t exist) and returning 30 minutes later with a brand new ladder. Instead, the process was a full day endeavor for a local to track one down and borrow a truck to transport it back to the orphanage, and if my memory serves me correctly, the ladder ended up costing about $250. It wasn’t the sturdiest ladder you’ve ever seen – reminding me of the ladders my dad had 15 years ago more than the standard reinforced ladders you are accustomed to seeing in home improvement stores. That said, all that really matters is that it got the job done.
The passion for the girls and the orphanage bleeds through Rocky’s online persona, but seeing the 34 girls took that understanding to a whole new level. It was a powerful reminder to me that life is about a lot more than money. The facility has enough room for all the girls, yet I heard other Kenyan orphanages put 3 times the number of children into the same space and sleep 50 in one room (as opposed to 10-12). I also heard that there are still Kenyan babies abandoned regularly or left outside a church for a priest to attend to because the mother can’t provide for the child. Clearly there is a great demand for quality orphanages in Kenya, and it was great to see & learn first hand how a great Kenyan orphanage is run (and help them out a bit in the process).
Aside from painting, Dan and I also geeked out a bit with Rocky, Maria, and Deborah.
When thinking through possible organizations to volunteer with or donate to — I simply couldn’t think of a better one to support than Mothers Fighting For Others.
What are you waiting for? I promise it’ll change your life for the better.
About the author: From Seattle. Techie. Entrepreneur. Microfinance advocate. Travel addict. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva. Founder – Oh Hey World.