“I know it is difficult leaving the kids but remember we won’t forget them and will work towards supporting and visit them again”
I might have thought that message was only a way to give me hope and suffer less on my last day at Korando in October 2017. Back then, I wished I was waking up every day with Siva and the kids, yet he was so close to me in distance. I used to text him every day sharing my beautiful experience. I would hope but maybe really never believed we could have come together just a little more than 1 year later…
We met on a small island in the Pacific 3 years ago and after a 45 hours journey crossing 2 and a half continents, we finally made it to Korando on a Sunday evening. As soon as we arrived, seeing the kids smiling and greeting us at the airport was the most rewarding and precious thing after that long journey. But who stole my heart back in 2017 was not there… Brooklyn was now a grown up student attending high school and I really hoped I could see him again. The rest of the kids still remembered me and it was so beautiful to see how they have grown up! Siva introduced himself as Simba – Lion in Kiswahili J The kids loved him since the first moment and I could see in his eyes he was touched by their love and felt exactly the same towards them.
That Sunday night was our first family dinner and I was so happy to share that moment together with the kids, my companion, new and old good friends from Korando. I couldn’t believe I could hug and kiss Beatrice, Mary and Michelle again, joke with Maruru and laugh with Bishop and Akama. I was waiting for those moments to be back for so long. There is a unique awareness that I believe every volunteer shares when at Korando: “I found home”. And it’s almost impossible not to come back home.
Seeing Mama Dolfine again was a blessing, like the first time we met. She told Siva her story about how she started the orphanage and school. The first time I have heard that story I cried, and imagined he was there sitting next to me and there he was now. And as the first time, I couldn’t believe how strong a woman can be, finding from her own suffering the strength to save so many kids’ lives for the past 20 years.
It was beautiful spending our days with the kids, giving few classes in the morning, playing outside and watching movies in the dome house. We had an amazing chicken dinner, went for a swim in the river and for a pick nick to the mountain! We also had the chance to take some kids from Nyalanda slums to the Impala Park, thanks to our beautiful local friend Irene. We even got invited to a local wedding and got to dance some of the best African music! We almost got arrested twice on our way to the Kakamega forest, but thanks to Dan we managed to get safe to our destination! So many hilarious moments we spent that we will never forget. But most of all is the kids love we’ll never forget. They are so bright, smart and full of life. They are the heart and the future of Kenya. If you ask each one of them what they want to be, they won’t tell you ‘I want to be an actor’. They want to be doctors, journalists, engineers. They really know what is important in life and they can teach you more than what you are meant to teach them.
I have never felt so present and grounded like before in my life. And there I was, feeling 100% myself again, waking up with a purpose and sharing one of the most important experiences of my life with my soulmate. I can’t thank enough for that ‘meant to be’ encounter with Pablo in Colombia back in 2016 and for Torsten genius idea to start Better Me. Toto, you really have changed many people lives for the Better.
We were supposed to leave on a Monday morning, but haven’t got a chance to see Brooklyn yet. So we changed our flight and hoped to see him before leaving. He came at 1 pm, finally released from school. My eyes were full of tears of joy when I saw him again and finally I could tell him “See, I came back!”.
I think of Korando as my home like no other place in the world. Home is where my heart is and I can’t wait to be back again!