When my feet lifted off of American soil on February 25th, I barely knew you but by the time they landed back at DTW, you were a fully integrated permanent part of me. You were everything I had hoped for and more. Not only were you a fertile land for personal development and dental outreach but also a humble abode for a vacation. You pushed me to live minimally: hand-washing my own clothes, showering in cold water and living without the luxury of air conditioning. You allowed me to see animals in the wilderness like I had never seen before. You taught me the difference between a Grevy’s Zebra and the common zebra or the distinguishing characteristics of a reticulated giraffe. Above all, you gave me friendships that I will hold close to my heart for a long time. Because of you, I danced with children for hours and hours. I ran from one end of the dusty school fields to another, chasing a soccer ball with a herd of kids by my side. And when I felt tired, you graced us with the sweetest of mangoes and watermelons. You made me forget about home.
Furthermore, you gave me an opportunity to serve people that truly need it. Alongside our group of 9 students and 2 faculty members, I spent day after day migrating from school to school conducting oral health screenings, establishing electronic patient records, applying silver diamine fluoride (SDF), fluoride varnish, and sealants on children. And perhaps most importantly, we provided each child with individualized brushing lessons. Overall this was no small task but with a lot of hard work and the help of locals, we were able to see over a thousand children in two weeks.
Kenya, you also humbled in ways I could not have imagined. You showed me the signs of progress and development in an African country that I did not expect. You showed me that Kenya, like the rest of Africa, is developing. You also showed me your problems and vulnerabilities. Those were areas of learning for me, as I tend to take so many of those things for granted back home. Never again. Finally, you taught me how to be happy regardless of any condition I may find myself in. The Kenyans were always happy and excited to take on the day. They were generous and kind to us. At many points during our stay, they thanked us for all the work we did for the children. I am now left thinking if I thanked them enough for how much they had done for my mind and spirit.
Thank you, Kenya.
with Brandon Scott, Alisa Dvarishkis, Nate Hock, Kanchi Shah, Radhika Patel, Josh Smith, Sergio Calleja, Brittany Amor, Carlos Gonzalez, and Robert Eber.
To see the full album of the 2017 Kenya pics, check out our Flickr album