In September I participated in the CARE Kilimanjaro trek, which was undoubtedly the most physically challenging experience of my life so far. This was shortly put into perspective when I had the opportunity to visit some projects that CARE supports alongside a group of fellow trekkers, this was an emotional experience and one which made me believe that the trek was worth it!
I believe education is key to driving change in the world and my view mirrors CARE’s aim to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged and naturally challenged children around the world, through education.
Throughout my childhood I was never given everything I claimed I needed whether that be a pair of new clothes or a new schoolbag, however visiting the projects really made me realise how much we take for granted. The majority of the children that we visited suffer from a disability, yet they were so happy and willing to put the effort in to progress further in life.
We made our way to the first project, Cerebral Palsy Foundation which was set up in 2007 and one where CARE already support 10 children. The foundation consists of children with disabilities and learning difficulties. We were shown around various classrooms where children were actively engaged – some were making necklaces and jewellery whilst others were drawing pictures, I was incredibly surprised by their enthusiasm and we were welcomed with great warmth. Whilst watching the kids craft jewellery, I realised the definition of determination at which point finding it difficult to contain my tears I eventually broke down. To some extent, it made me feel ashamed of my efforts at university, these children were adapting their skills to learn something new whilst giving it their best shot. I was further overwhelmed when one child said ‘please don’t cry,’ their mental strength is absolutely inspirational.
The next project we visited was the Girl Guides Shanzu, these were a group of naturally challenged girls that made hand crafted goods which they sold.This project made me think about how much we take for granted everyday.
Agape was another project that we visited, this was a small orphanage in the slums of Dagaretti. The children studied in small cramped classrooms but yet they were still smiling. The accommodation was also cramped and unhygienic. For many children they had a childhood in which they were abused or had witnessed traumatic behaviour. Agape provides the hope to a child of a better and secure future, they sung to us “All I want is a friend to love me…all I want is a friend to take good care of me. I don’t want clothes, I don’t want shoes, I don’t want toys, I don’t want money…all i want is a happy family…”
This was a life changing experience and one that I am so glad to have been involved with, it really opened my eyes and work undertaken by CARE to achieve its aims is truly admirable.