My father and I recently had the opportunity to travel to Kenya to witness some of the projects that Global Connections is a part of in the Nairobi area. Admittedly, we embarked on our first African trip with all the baggage and preconceptions typical of most Western travelers. When I did a mental exercise with myself of the first four images that came up when I thought of Kenya, they were Kenyan distance runners, lions, pot-bellied/malnourished babies, and hot, grassy plains. We arrived to find ourselves in the mountains on a cold night which required all of our "cold gear" of which we had little to none. Our preconceptions began to dissipate and a new reality began to be formed--one that at least attempted to understand a remarkable and loving people on their terms, most often well-equipped with the necessary capacities to thrive in all forms of living.
Global Connections played a vital role in connecting us with a world and a reality that largely did not exist prior to this experience. We visited children's centers that GC funds, we walked through villages, we met other non-profit partners such as the Care for AIDS initiative, and we witnessed incredible models of change and hope in villages such as Jikaze-a former IDP camp that is now functioning as a resettlement village, steadily becoming self-sustaining in all senses of the word. These are the projects that GC is focused on. It was not about what GC can do, but about what Kenyans are doing and how GC can partner, empower, and equip these organizations with long term perspective and consistent cooperation. GC's perspective and mission stands unique against many of development programs that focus on short-term, fix-it projects that usually serve only the givers and fail to transform into long term advantages for the one being "served." GC is truly out to live the gospel and partner with, not carry, Kenyans. I am incredibly thankful for the growth that GC is facilitating both physically and spiritually in those they work with--Americans and Kenyans alike--and it has been an experience that I will build off of in future work with GC and the groups they exposed me to.
--Austin Holmes (USA) 2009 Father/Son Trip
My summer was life changing and demanding but above all incredibly fun and one I will never forget. Not only were the Kenyan people such a joy to be around but I was able to meet some amazing people among my fellow volunteers. Everyone was so welcoming and my experience was made even better through the friends I made.
Amazing and unforgettable- Kenya will stay with me forever!
--Hannah Kerrigan (UK) 2009 Volunteer
I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t dream about visiting Africa. My family and friends have known for years that it is one of my heart’s greatest desires. It’s just one of those things – a gut wrenching, heart pulling, tear dropping, I’ve got to experience it feelings. Over time doors kept closing and opportunities to make a trip happen were dismal. As a faithful “Corporate American”, I had no idea how I would ever be able to see this part of the world and experience its rich culture.
Then I was introduced to Global Connections, an organization dedicated to facilitating trips in order to help Westerners connect with developing countries and their grassroots organizations in order to develop mutually beneficial relationships. GC’s dedication to people, both trip participants and partners, are unmatched and world class. I now serve as an Ambassador for GC, a program designed to continue to foster those relationships. I am the proud Godparent of Derrik, a resident of the Limuru Children’s Centre, who wrote in his last letter, “I have good news! I love you...and I love football.” I will continue to support Derrik emotionally and financially and serve as a role model from him from across the ocean.
It has been said, “Now that I have seen, I am responsible,” and it is true that you will never experience anything as rare and beautiful as Africa and its people. Through GC I was able to see, experience, and connect with kids like Derrik and other partners that are working together to create sustainable change and now I too am responsible.
--Claire Speer (USA) 2008 Christmas With the Kids
It is the love and care that grows out of spending time with people from completely different walks of life and the connections you make with them that makes your time there so amazing. The variety of the projects, ranging from working with disabled teenage girls to caring and counseling AIDS patients to building houses at an IDP camp, enabled me to get stuck into more than one area of need within Kenya and see a range of miracles. Spending time with others who also wanted to make a difference helped strengthen me emotionally as well to learn from each other. I would recommend going to anybody who has the desire to have experiences outside their comfort zone and serve God in a country other than their own as it is an experience unlike any other; your eyes are opened to a life unlike yours and you are given the opportunity to evaluate yourself and what you value. It is an experience that changes you for the better and one you don’t forget.
--Rosanna Wood (UK) 2009 Volunteer
We've been home over a week now, and it's taken me this long to finish my journal.... For the first week it was really hard for me to focus on my life and work here--my mind and heart were still in Africa. Now, I'm working through the process of understanding all we saw and experienced and figuring out my response/role. Many opportunities are already arising for me to share my experience with local schools, churches and civic groups. That's a great start--I think people need to know that there are organizations like Global Connections that are making a tremendous impact with a relatively small amount of money and that individual donations go a long way in creating positive change.
--Kate Brown (USA) 2007 Mississippi Team
In the Netherlands, it is usual to live on our own, we are all individual people who want get the best job and the most money. Actually nobody is real content with the things achieved, always wanting more. After being in Kenya and seeing the people living there, I see the differences between the life in the Netherlands and in Kenya. I can't say that the people here are happier than those in Kenya. These lovely people have taught me to be grateful with everything you get, even the very little things, and how important it is to put all your trust in God. If you want to see and help these people, to build beautiful friendships (also with the other volunteers!) and to see more of this beautiful country, you surely must come to Kenya! For me it was the greatest experience of my life.
--There De Zwart (Netherlands) 2009 Volunteer
My trip to Kenya made a big impression on my life. Surrounded by family and friends, I visited a continent I had never been to before. Although I was expecting the things I would see and learn to be surprising, shocking and everything in between, I was impacted by the needs, poverty, and the love in that country. Global Connections provided me the opportunity to safely visit Kenya and experience all the indigenous-lead programs that they are affiliated with and support.
Upon my return, trying to bridge the gap between the third-world country I came from and the resource-bountiful county I live in, I felt led to educate my community of the things I had learned and to raise funds. I held community meetings at my house, served Kenyan fare, and shared images and stories-attempting to expose even a glimpse of my experience. After raising funds, the money was used for a mass food distribution in a starving area of Kenya. It feels like a drop in the pond, but once you see, you can't forget. I can't wait for the next opportunity I have to visit Kenya and serve God where and when He needs me."
-Lindsey Mitchell (USA) 2008 Christmas With the Kids
So what would I wish to say to you as you read this? I would say stop reading, and think about what you can do. Whether its praying, giving or going - do it, just do it. In the words of Alan Pain "We go out to change the world, and in the process find God changes us"
--David McNee (UK) 2009 Volunteer
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.--Martin Luther King Jr