From Europe to Kenya

September 3, 2011

I didn’t write again until I was sitting in my hotel room in Kenya. Not that there was nothing to write about. On the contrary- our last two days in Hungary were extremely meaningful. As a group, we had gone through a transformation, and the twenty American students who sat laughing and crying at the foot of Millennium Memorial in Hero’s Square were not the same as those who had gazed up at it three and a half weeks earlier. On that last night we all knew we had grown to be inseparable friends, bonded by the intense experience of traveling throughout Central Europe side by side, always. We’re stuck together now, in the best way possible.

Hungerbia, as we called it, was definitely a perfect source of all the reverse cowgirl I had been missing in my life. Well, there wasn’t any real reverse cowgirl, which is perhaps my only complaint, but there was plenty of adventure-making, risk-taking, and boundary-breaking. I’m not the same girl I used to be. My experience in Central Europe alone was enough to change how I perceive and interact with the world. Kenya would only intensify that change.

I traveled to Kenya to volunteer with Women’s Empowerment Breakthrough (WEB), a non-profit I started working with three years ago that is based out of Prescott, AZ. In the States, WEB hosts an annual conference for teenage girls that includes a full day of workshops, a sweet-sixteen birthday party, and lots of s’mores. Our mission is to provide young women with the knowledge, resources, and support to make empowered choices. Internationally, WEB has partnered with the Nabolu Girls’ Centre in Narok, Kenya. The Nabolu Girls’ Centre is a residence for teenage Maasai girls who have run away from home to pursue an education. It provides shelter, resources, and community while fostering cultural pride and connection. Furthermore, the center facilitates reconciliation between parents and daughters so that the girls can return to their families. Each summer for the past four years, we have been connecting girls from Arizona with girls from Kenya so that we may learn, share, and grow together as a global community.

You can check out Women’s Empowerment Breakthrough at http://womensempowerment.wordpress.com/ 

My stay in Kenya lasted three weeks. I traveled between Nairobi, Narok, and the Maasai Mara on dusty roads, covered by potholes like craters in the moon’s surface. I spent part of the time confined to hotel rooms, leaving only to run errands or, in the case of Narok, visit the Nabolu Girls. The other half of my journey was spent at a camp run by Prescott College in the Maasai Mara. Here, I lived with a group of students, teachers, and Maasai men and women. We camped in tents and ate dinner around a campfire. At night, we could hear animals- lions, hyenas, zebras- lurking and being lurked upon. In the morning, I awoke with the sun, ready to drink chai around the breakfast table…

Finding the right way to describe my experience in Kenya is like trying to find God- it may or may not exist. I’m constantly searching for the right words to use, the right emotions to convey, in order to help others understand. For now, I’ll be posting my journal entries along with pictures. Feel free to offer criticism, ask me questions, or start a conversation!

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

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