Written by CorpsAfrica/Kenya Volunteer Sam Kibebe
Growing up, all I heard about Kambaland was how dry it was and how famine hit hard in the region. A land with no rain, where nothing can grow, and where water was a story found only in books. This was the picture I had in my mind all through my childhood. I remember meeting new Kamba friends in my campus life and all I would see was people who had come from a desert-like place they called home. And for hours we would argue with them as I tried to convince them how dry their homeland was even though I had never landed my foot there.
Joining Corps Africa as a volunteer years later, I never thought that this would be an opportunity to erase the long-painted picture of Kambaland. When the day came and the office made it clear that I would spend my 11 months of service in Kambaland, all that came into my mind was how hard I would struggle to get water and the hot scorching sun that would mercilessly burn my skin. At first, I wasn’t ready for it but the spirit of volunteering gave me a bigger drive. And within no time, I was in Kambaland, a place I would call home for the next 11 months.
Three weeks down the line, I still don’t believe that I am in Kambaland. I found a greener place with maize, beans, peas, potatoes, avocados…to name them all. The village is covered with trees and the weather is cool. Though the community members say that it’s only for a while before it gets dry, it is evident that it’s not forever dry. They have something to be thankful for even if it’s not all year round.
Touring the village, I have come across treasures I never imagined would ever be found in Kambaland; Along the rocky valley are springs which the community says do not dry up all year round. It’s here that part of the community feeds their livestock and gets water for domestic use. As I go up the hill, another surprising discovery; several boreholes which again do not dry up. The community members are telling me that even in the driest times, the boreholes continue to provide water. This at first is shocking. So for the many years I have lived I held a false picture of Kambaland! Well, my old picture of a desert Kambaland is starting to slowly disappear. And this is the beauty of being a CorpsAfrica Volunteer. As a CorpsAfrica Volunteer, one of my roles is to help the community to see this wealth and to realize the great potential they have to propel them forward. We are CorpsAfrica, We are redefining Africa.