Saturday, February 6, 2010

Homestay with the Green Belt Movement

Notes from Lang'ata:
After a day at Green Belt's Lang'ata Centre getting acclimated and attending introductory lectures from Green Belt Movement (GBM) staff and faculty from University of Nairobi, we set off for a two-day homestay in a GBM community a few hours east of Nairobi. The GBM network we visited is called Matatani, located near the town of Kangundo in an area inhabited by the Kamba tribe. After a warm welcome from the entire community, the class split up into several different family homes and enjoyed the hospitality of home-cooked meals and cultural exchange. This was a remarkable opportunity for all to experience life in a rural East African village without electricity or indoor plumbing, living with and working with women from Wangari Maathai's community-empowering movement. The second day was filled with hands-on experiences ranging from doing chores around the homestead to planting trees with the GBM women. Saturday morning we enjoyed a rousing send-off full of singing, dancing, and tears. Kwaheri Matatani!!!

Message from TraeAnna:
So, now after leaving the community, I can tell you that I feel like that's where I belong. The people were so nice and welcoming that it was very hard to leave them! They taught us songs, and dances. The welcoming party was so big and happy, I began to tear up as soon as we got there. I never dreamed I'd experience such a sensation in all my life. Of course, being black, they thought that I was Kenyan and a worker with the Greenbelt Movement! It wasn't until it was explained to them that I was like Obama, a black person from America, that they understood. I got a new name as well, Mbula. It's going to be hard to top this experience!!!! I can only hope that the days to come will be as fulfilling as Matatani was!!! =)

Message from Vicky:
Hi everybody! We went to the village the last three days and it was pretty awesome! I never thought I could survive with no running water or electricity.. and you probably didn't either haha. My “mother” was Rose and we stayed at her house the last 2 nights. Tomorrow we're going to the safari! OK miss you all talk to you later!

Message from Danielle:
Hello from Lang'ata! First of all, I think I cooked more in that village than I have in the rest of my life combined. :) The amount of work the women do every day blows my mind. The women of my home gave me the name Kaleche. It was so much fun singing and dancing with the local women and then their kids!! They were so adorable. We went to the local primary school and upwards of 350 kids sang us songs and treated us like celebrities. It meant so much to them just to get a high five or hear us say hello! I loved it. I can say, without a doubt, that I will remember the Matatani experience for the rest of my life.

Message from Maria:
We have been in Kenya for only four days, but it feels much longer. The kinship I felt with the women of the village will remain with me forever. The way that they opened their homes to us as if we were long lost relatives was amazing. Something that stuck me was the joy and sense of community shared by these people, who by our standards have so very little. They were eager to show us the way that they live, but also to learn from us. Leaving the village today was heart breaking and when I told them that I will return, I truly meant it.

Message from Heather:
I don't believe I will ever be greeted again with such excitement and joy in my life. The Kamba community seem to have an amazing aptitude for singing. Every song was met with a variation of a simple dance of shuffling your feet and shaking your shoulders and sometimes a hissing kind of noise. There is so much to learn from my host family that two days just didn't seem like enough. Though I was happy to see a regular toilet again! The farewell was an emotional one and I can only hope that I can take home the feeling of love and community that they shared with our group.

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