By Jeff Loehring

I decided to venture to Kenya on September 4, 2013. I had never traveled outside of the United States…so arriving in Nairobi was eye opening and exciting, to say the least. My blood was pumping as I tried to take in the environment around me. No matter how much I wanted to crawl in my shell, the children were my motivation and purpose of this trip. Ever since I was a kid and saw the haunting commercials on the TV of children living in Africa, I knew I wanted to be there, experience it and try to make even the smallest difference. I realized how blessed I was having the basics of living (water, food, shelter) so freely given to me. I promised myself once I got out on my own feet and was grounded in who I was…I would make it over there! Without Village Volunteers, my dream of traveling would have been much more difficult.

My purpose for this trip was simple 1. To look every child in the eye and be as present as possible with them. 2. Not only tell them how much I loved them but to show my love through simple gestures such as listening and playing games till their hearts content. 3. To soak in all the love and happiness they displayed to me and carry that message home to share with as many people as possible. 4. Keep all who I met in my constant thoughts and prayers and build life-long friendships.

My first stop was at Sister Freda’s compound. As I entered the space, Sister Freda welcomed me with open arms and the utmost kindness. She showed me around the property and the hospital was so amazing to see. I talked with the staff about medicine and specific operations. Coming from a medical background, I was blown out of the water with the stories they shared with me. It allowed me to get a glimpse into their healthcare and visit the patients who already had a procedure performed. Then I walked down and met the children for the first time …. and my eyes opened in a way they never had before. From the first glance, I fell deeply in love with all of them. We played, we sang, we learned and we rejoiced in all the love that surrounded us. I cried for 3 solid days, deeply overwhelmed by the genuine warmth of the place. And then was able to truly absorb the hearts of all these children and teachers. I watched as they learned, played and helped one another in and outside of school. It was so amazing to witness and be a part of. I will forever be grateful.

From Sister Freda’s I traveled to Namunyak Maasai Welfare and was greeted by Emmanuel and his gorgeous family. Traveling to the school, he told me the story of this school he had started years prior and it was so powerful. Once again, the children at the Sirua Aulo Academy were just wonderful. From the singing and clapping to the math games they played during recess, my heart opened up to them once again. I brought sun glasses for the kids, and you would have thought I had given them the world. Such a small gesture on my part created such happiness and gratitude from everyone around. It was a great reminder of how it’s about the simple things in life that matter. I watched as the children play with kites, sang songs at the top of their lungs and ate lunch with such enthusiasm and vigor. And the teachers were marvelous … I could only hope and pray that I could walk through my life with half of their excitement and joy.

My trip to Kenya was beyond anything I had ever experienced to date. My time with these warm and welcoming people who took me in as their own will forever be cherished and remembered. I hope that I can take the lessons I learned from them and apply it to my everyday life. Always remember to take care of one another, be grateful for what you have, live in the present moment, nothing is ever impossible, laugh as much as possible, and most important – to love and give with every breath you have. I am so honored to have encountered love on a whole new plane. My life will forever be impacted … and I look forward to my next adventure in Nepal!

Click here to learn more about Sister Freda’s.