Thirty-five days, twenty-eight mammals, fifteen volunteers, four towns, two farm blocks, and too many meters of rope later, I’ve arrived back home.
The last day at Kivuli Camp for myself and for Team 2 was spent packing and picture-taking, as we reminisced on our time in Kenya and expressed both our excitement to see loved ones and our regret that we had to go home.
After spending time in Africa, it’s difficult to imagine simply going back home and forgetting about the people, the music, the animals, the food, and the sunsets. Though I am grateful to be home and benefiting from such luxuries as tap water, hot showers, washing machines, disposal services, and supermarkets, I can’t help but be haunted by both the beauty of Africa and the hardships its people face.
Five weeks in Kenya has taught me to appreciate how lucky I am to live where I do and to have as many opportunities available to me as I do, but I left Kenya feeling inspired by the resilience and the sense of community so abundant in its people. I’ve realized that, though the people are in severe need of basic necessities such as clean water, vaccinations, housing, education, hygienic products, and guaranteed access to food, they have proven that possessing things does not equal happiness – a lesson that we often forget.
Still, there is work to be done. But this trip has taught me that it is possible to make a difference, and there are other like-minded people who are interested in making a difference too. So, if that applies to you, my advice to you is: DO IT! If you want to contribute to any sort of wildlife conservation or humanitarian project, just go for it! If you’re interested in this project specifically, there is still plenty of work to be done. You can learn more about the program here. Whatever your interests may be, whether it’s this project or another, it really is never too late to get out there, get your hands dirty, and have a blast in the process.
Personally, this experience has truly been unforgettable. Each day since my return home I think back to my time in Kenya, hoping to live my life in a way that honors the determination, courage, and love shown to me in my time there. I think what they say must be true – once Africa is in your heart, it stays with you forever.