Kayley’s Impressions

IMG_7493Dear C4C Friends,

I have never been to Africa before, so you can imagine the response I received when I suddenly told my family and friends that I had booked a ticket to Zimbabwe for 2 weeks. Reactions were mixed, but the overall conclusion was that I would need a “spa day” when I returned from my trip; and after 24 hours on an airplane, when we finally touched down in Harare, I began to think they were right.

I knew that I would encounter surprises along my journey, and from the unpredictable cultural faux pas to the predictable time zone difference, I felt prepared to have my trip peppered with the unexpected. Certainly enough, I wore sunglasses in town and received funny stares, I was awoken by roosters at 4 in the morning and I quickly learned how to bathe out of a bucket. The surprises began.

But the poverty and needs of the children were unlike any I had seen.  The disparity between my life and theirs was bigger than I could have imagined. The differences were clear and raw. Palpable. And although all of these things were new to me, each one of them a surprise, I somehow felt prepared.

What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the immediate connection I felt upon arriving.  It was these soul-feeding connections that were made without effort that knocked me off of my feet. Children who had never met me took my hand and shared their stories.  They told me about their favorite subjects in school. They spoke with me about their families, their sponsors and their friends. They laughed at me as I tried to speak Shona. They taught me how to cook over a fire. These connections were greater than any difference I encountered; uniting us with our shared hopes, their shyness, their laughter and tears.

As each day passed, I found myself dreading the day of our departure.  I knew we had just arrived, but I felt like I had been there before.  I pondered what a sponsorship program means to these children and to their families and considered myself fortunate enough to be able to see first hand the impact that a sponsor can have on a C4C scholar’s life – and I mean impact in the most real and tangible way. Despite this, I couldn’t help but think that the children had an even greater impact on me.

As I hugged the children goodbye the night before we left, I felt happy knowing I would to be able to tell my skeptical family and friends that there would be no need for a “spa day.”  This trip was a spa for my mind and my soul, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to foster the connections I made and support these children as they reach for their goals.

~Kayley

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