A week ago today I returned from my third trip to Kenya, undoubtedly the most special one. All other trips, like this one, had been magical. However, what made this trip stand out from the rest was the final realization of what a large, diverse, motivated and talented group of individuals can get done when the purpose is right and a plan has been established.
We were early at the Madrid airport. 5.15am for a 7am flight is “a bit” more conservative than I normally play it. Kelli had been eagerly and meticulously planning this trip for weeks. This time, our three daughters Isabel, Sofia (already a St. Martin's veteran) and Maxima were joining. There is no way any airport logistics would derail our plans. A few hours later we were boarding the BA flight from London to Nairobi. At the gate we saw Matt, Liam, Chris, the Hernandez-Byrne family (Adolfo, Sarah, Maria and Lara), and the soon to be known warrior woman Esther, and her two cubs, Alex and Javier. For most of them this was the first time they were meeting.
Already in Nairobi, at the Fairview hotel, and coming from many disparate cities around the world, the group was starting to gather. Another family, Suzanne, JT and Annabel. The singles, Dimitri, Javier, and Dan. The couples, Tyler and Lynelle and of course, Z and Pauline. Stephen and Ross also wanted to make sure that this adventure was fully documented.
Some of us were returning to St. Martin's School, but for the majority of the team (among them a nice share of youth!), this was a first timer. Many did not know what to expect, but they came prepared to learn, to serve, to love and to have fun in the process. The following four days were very intense and emotional and, as a consequence, mentally and physically exhausting. The team divided and conquered. The water project made it clear that a new borehole was critical. The journalism club uncovered and guided the many hidden talents within the secondary school. Email accounts were set up to all secondary girls, and students and professors were being trained on the basics of coding and officeware. We also connected 1-1 with the nearly 300 sponsored students and recorded messages for their sponsors. All along we continued helping the sisters to identify new needs where our program could help. Sports competitions and an always precious talent show topped the busy agendas. And then, the Saturday hot meal program...
Saturday afternoon, on our way to the Masaai Mara, we could not stop re-living all those magical moments of the past few days. On one hand, we all felt proud and satisfied at our accomplishments during the week and at the progress and impact our program was having on the school, the 1000 children and the Slum. Now 300 children had a sponsor (from 15, just 2.5 years ago). Two computer labs were up and running. A borehole was under construction. New classrooms and nicer restaurant flooring had been built. And more plans were under way. On the other hand, though, we were daunted and a bit overwhelmed with the feeling that so much more needed to be done. Despite this, no one was surrendering. Not at all. We were more motivated than ever to continue to scale, expand and improve the program. We had just witnessed what the power of this team was able to accomplish in just four days. We have seen what the power of the salesforce Ohana was able to build for the school in just a few years. We were ready to persevere.
Never feel that a challenge is too big to take on. Never surrender at what may appear as too big of a problem. Always trust your guts. Always reach out. Always connect the diverse, eager, talented and powerful Ohana around you. This power is unlimited. Be always ready to unleash THE POWER OF US.