Written by CorpsAfrica/Kenya Volunteer Mr. Samuel Matiru
First and foremost, I want to thank my host family for opening their door for me to experience a new culture and give me a second home.
On the first day, my host mum warmly welcomed me to her home, she was with her grandson who had visited and he was such a fun boy to be with. She took me around her compound and it was so lovely, her compound had tall and beautiful trees and lots of domestic animals and it was very clean. She also had a big farm next to her house, where she had planted maize, beans, and fruit trees, and because of the latest little rains that were occurring the place looked so green and her plants were looking very healthy. She later took me to the room I would be sleeping in, and to my surprise, she had made the bed so well with a new duvet and clean sheets, that kind gesture from her made me feel right at home.
I slowly integrated into the family, and eventually, our bond became strong and they treated me like their own son. At home, she was using a traditional cooking stove and she taught me how to use it whenever I wanted to heat my bathing water. I found it very interesting and it was something I enjoyed doing every weekend. My host mum is very hardworking; I admire the way she always puts all her efforts into her work. The village members like her very much and I used this opportunity to integrate well in the village. Her grandson is young and intelligent, we enjoy how he pronounces the word CorpsAfrica very well, and yet he is so young. He likes listening to music and dancing, I remember one day he drew a circle at the compound and told me to enter the circle so that we could dance together, and yet the circle was so small we couldn’t fit the both of us! But for him, the only thing that mattered was that we danced together.
The host son, daughter, and dad all came for the festive season. We celebrated Christmas together as a family, we went to church and later came back and cooked a very delicious meal for the day. The host daughter surprised me when she gave me a gift, it was an act of kindness, and no matter how small it was, I was humbled and grateful. Celebrating Christmas with a second family and doing it differently from what I’m used to, was all new to me and the experience was amazing. The host dad was very knowledgeable; the grandson was afraid of using the pit latrine, so he identified a need to make a kid potty/toilet seat for the grandson to use at the pit latrine. He applied Human-Centered Design and he made it in a very unique way, which today still amazes me how perfectly it was done.
The host son volunteered to take me for the household visits, and he helped me with translation in cases where we came across households where that language barrier was an issue. He also took me to a place where the village members were fetching water from a rock, “Oh My God!” I had never seen anything like that. Village members were lining up to fetch water out from a rock and some of them could spend days and nights waiting just to get water. Right now, the climate crisis is affecting the community. The community has contributed the least to climate change, but it’s facing the worst effects. I’m seeing loss and damage at my host mum’s farm, where her maize plantation is completely drying up due to insufficient rainfall and soaring temperatures. My host mum is feeling sad because of the terrible crisis and at the same time a bit contented because she was able to harvest a few bags of beans that didn’t completely dry up.
I thank my wonderful host family, they gave me a chance to stay at their home, and let me into their lives and that made a difference for me. When all the dust is settled and all the crowds are gone, the things that matter are faith, family, and friends.