Written by CorpsAfrica/Kenya Volunteer Mr. Samuel Njuguna
“Every experience matters, but first experience matters more.”
When I first heard that I was being deployed in Machakos County, it clicked for me that my CorpsAfrica journey was about to begin. I arrived in Machakos safe and we were welcomed by a community member who was also a host dad to one of my fellow Volunteers. He took us around Machakos to various households and we met up with different people, for me it was a nice way of integration. I later arrived at my site, where I was warmly welcomed and served a delicious lunch. To my surprise, the woman who had served us lunch was my host mum.
Machakos, or rather the Eastern region of Kenya to me, was a very dry place with little to offer, but to my amazement, the place was so green and beautiful with a lot of trees. I would wake up early in the morning just to admire the nature of the place. I’m happy that the people here are embracing climate action through tree planting, which shows that the community is well prepared to fight climate change.
During my integration period, I strengthened my bond with the community members. We are all feeling safe around each other. They also gave me a Kamba name ‘NZIOKA’ which means coming back. I like how the community has embraced me as their own, I feel loved and this gives me the courage to show up and become who I am. Whenever I meet up with a community member, I admire how they try to teach me the local language so that we can understand each other. There was this day when I met a group of ‘shoshos’ (old women in the society) at the market. They all greeted me in the local dialect, they would say ‘Waacha’, and they would tell me to respond by saying ‘ah.’ Whenever I responded to their greetings by saying ‘ah’, they would laugh and I would wonder, have I said anything wrong or they are just happy to see me? I remember one time, a man from the community approached me and told me that he liked the way I was integrating into the community and people like me because I’m easily approachable.
The training with the youth, the activities with the community groups, and the community mapping with the community have given me the courage to communicate effectively and to better understand the people of Machakos. It has been a month since I began my service, and I appreciate every little thing that I have done together with my community. It’s the little things that make big things happen and it is the small deeds done with great love that can change the world. What an amazing first experience I have had as a CorpsAfrica/Kenya Volunteer.