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Aisha Hufnagel Me to We Update

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  • Aisha

Teens | September 10, 2013

Cambridge resident, Aisha Hufnagel went to Kenya this summer as part of the Me to We project. Aisha has kindly written about her experience. These experiences are all around. You can do have them too! . 

This July, I made a long trek across the ocean to one of the most amazing places I will ever be: Kenya. I travelled there from the Pearson airport with 30 other teens and one of our facilitators, Mel.  We went as a youth volunteer trip from Me to We. As we travelled, the group of us began to talk about our lives, families and what we were expecting out of this trip. Everyone had different thoughts and expectations.

            After 14 hours of flight, plus a 9 hour layover London, we finally made it to Kenya. We met up with two other team members and met our other facilitators, Jameson and Haley. Then we travelled for another 6 hours on a lorry (bus) on bumpy terrain that slowly went from road to gravel to dirt. Finally we arrived at our campsite, our home for the next few weeks. We got settled in and prepared for the next 3 weeks that would change us all, uniquely but also as a group.

            Throughout the trip, my group, Kenya B, did many different activities. Our main task was the building site. We were the first group to start working on a chicken coup, which would serve as a community food security project. Throughout the 3 weeks we changed the area from a slightly slanted, rocky section of dirt to the foundation of a sturdy chicken coup with cement being poured into the trenches. It was tedious work. We had to tackle rock after rock as we moved along digging trenches. And they were not small rocks. Sometimes it would take five or six of our strongest boys to roll a rock out of the crevice made around it. But as a group we encouraged each other and helped one another out, and slowly progress was made.

            My favourite times of the trip were at the primary school. We visited the Emori Joi Primary school a few times on our trip and got to play with the kids after they finished school. They we so happy to see us and it was not unusual to have one or more kids draped over your arms and pulling you this way or that. Every time we came back, more kids would know your name and I got to make some really good connections with a few of the girls there. We talked about our families and what we want to do after school. All of them are so passionate about school and it is refreshing to see that energy about learning. With the younger children that did not know very much English or understand my very limited Swahili, I would just play with them. We would run around come up with different handshakes. It was amazing connecting with all the kids and learning about their way of life.

            Throughout our trip, when we were not building or at the school, we did different things in the community. We toured a health clinic, girls high school and a farm. We also went to the market, helped a mama carry water from a river, and helped a men’s group build rungus (wooden weapons) to sell as souvenirs. It was so interesting meeting all these different people and hearing their stories about how they got to where they were. We couldn’t always understand everything, but spending time with these incredible men and women was very special.

            My trip was and experience of a lifetime that I will treasure forever. I met wonderful people that have impacted, encouraged and inspired me. When I think about my trip it still overwhelms me and I don’t always believe I actually did all that. But as a process everything I did, I use bits and pieces to change myself into a better person. Kenya is one of the most amazing places in the world and I can only hope I can go back someday to see those sights and faces and places that impacted me so much this summer. 

Aisha Hufnagel

For more information about Me to We, click here.