Zuri Watoto Wote

Zuri Watoto Wote–10,000 Views Later

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Kenya by Lynn Ouellette on 04/22/2012

The number of views on this blog surpassed 10,000 today. It’s hard to know what to think of that since I know that some readers have come from random search engines seeking out particular bits of information about Kenya, or AIDS or even to find pictures of animals from the safari which I took on my first trip to Kenya. But I do know that many of the visits were purposeful and I would like to think that I have shared my experiences in Kenya as a volunteer in an educational and inspirational way. The title of this blog, Zuri Watoto Wote, means by my rough translation “All the Beautiful Children” in Swahili. I chose it before I had ever been to Kenya and when I was attempting to learn a little bit of Swahili in advance. I still love the title now that I have met the many beautiful children there; I could have, however, called it “All the Beautiful People” because my connection isn’t only to the children. I knew that when I set out on that first trip to Kenya that I would be fulfilling a lifelong dream to visit Africa (truly since I was a child) and to do volunteer work in a third world country. I did not really have an idea of how much the experience would grab my heart, change my life and change me.

I have wanted to convey in my blog a broader sense of the Kenyan people than those stereotypes that people might have when they think of  African countries stricken by AIDS and poverty. Yes, there is AIDS and there is much poverty, but there are also wonderful thriving people who are celebrating life despite their hardship and their poverty in a way that is truly enviable. And there are people who have a capacity for connection, grace and authentic communication which is touching and not lost in the superficiality of life’s busy pace. These are the beautiful people who I have met. I have played with, sung with, danced with, done art with, painted the faces of, many beautiful children, all orphans. I have listened to some sad stories and felt their pain, but have also seen them smile and laugh. All of these people are a testament to the human spirit. My greatest admiration has been for the women I have met, especially the mothers, who work so hard and sacrifice so much to take care of their children yet still retain such grace and dignity. And although I have had the role of the volunteer, the “helper”, who brings donations and professional expertise, I too have been “helped”  by the interchange to have a broader sense of the world and her people and to feel a different sense of my place in it. I have seen the value of a strong cultural heritage, of living a simpler life and of appreciating what one does have, what I have,  in a new way.

Earlier today I was watching Chimamanda Adichie, Nigerian author, who presented a TED talk entitled “The Danger of a Single Story”. She said in her talk “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”  When I listened to her it very much resonated with the experiences I have had and with what I learned by spending time with people in Kenya as I have had the privilege of hearing many stories and have learned so much from those who have told them to me.

So three years, 65 posts and 10,000 blog visits later its hard for me to imagine my life without this experience and all the people I have met and the touching moments I have shared. My fellow travelers will be life long friends and LLoydie Zaiser–we are kindred spirits in this mission and jointly have a lifetime of things to accomplish in Kenya–along with Jen and Deb……. Since my plan is to return to Kenya each year I hope to keep the blog going between trips with updates on news from Nyumbani and elsewhere in Kenya and with stateside activities such as Tuko Pamoja and preparations for the next trip.

I hope that if you are reading the blog and are touched by any of the stories that I relay that you will pass it on. When I originally set out to write the blog it was with the intention of making people more aware of the plight of AIDS orphans in Kenya and the concept of global citizenship. I have certainly learned that there is far more about which to be enlightened and hope to continue to share that which I continue to learn. I will close with a poem:

We are all the same

I am that man, that woman, that child,

I am just like them

Except that I was born lucky

In this land of privilege and plenty

Otherwise, we are the same

 

I am that man, that boy

Sent off to fight, to witness that

Which should never be seen,

To lose his youth, his self, perhaps

To die, we were born alike.

 

I am that woman, that mother

Who weeps for her sick child,

Who cannot work enough

To feed her children, to save them

But keeps trying, we are the same

 

I am that child, that baby

Thrown on a garbage heap,

Alone and unwanted, left to die

Somebody’s child, too sick to keep

She is like me; she is like you

 

Except we were born in the land of plenty

Where our eyes are shut and our ears

Do not hear, so we will not know

That we are those men, those women,

Those children, we are all the same.

2 Responses

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  1. Lloydie said, on 04/23/2012 at 3:52 am

    Lynn, I am so glad you are blogging between trips! I look forward to each and every post! Congratulations on your 10,000th viewer. You and your stories continue to be an inspiration to me! Keep ’em coming!

    Like

  2. Lloydie said, on 04/23/2012 at 4:02 am

    I am proud and honored to be your kindred spirit in this mission and am looking forward to having a lifetime of things to accomplish with you in Kenya! Along with Deb, Karen, Jen, and a cast of thousands “we can be the change we wish to see in the world!” Tuko pamoja, we are in this together! God is good all the time; all the time, God is good!

    Like


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