Rahab Wamaitha – Spring Break Camp 2012 experience story

21 Jun

Attending the spring-break camp was one of the best experiences I have ever had as a in my life.

Despite the many challenges I faced, while preparing to attend the camp, I really thank God I was able to overcome them all. Finally, Sunday, 20th may 2012 was here!

Very eager to set off for the camp, I woke up very early to pack the belongings I needed to carry with me. By 10.00am, I was through. Then Simeon, Eunice and I left for Kisumu to shop for the goods we would need to ease our stay in Anyuong’i village. Since time was not on our side, we had to shop as fast as we could so that we would be back to Maseno by 5.00pm, which was the departure time to the campsite.

Arriving in Maseno, I interacted with the Springers who had finally arrived after long and tiresome journeys.

5.00pm clicked!

We all boarded the bus eager to reach our destination. Along the way, we managed to socialize with the community during brief stops along the journey as we added to our shopping. We arrived in Anyuongi village at 7.00pm after two hours of travelling.

Immediately after settling down, there was a heavy down pour, which seemed to bless our stay in Nyangoma division. Our mission was to develop the community socially, educate them on how to improve their surrounding and enlighten them on economic empowerment. Being university students, we had a hard task ahead of us. This was to change the community’s perspective about university students. However, we managed to tackle it easily through self-discipline. Trust me, by the end of the camp the villagers were so happy with us that they wished we would extend our stay. We managed to visit four primary schools and one high school.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the entire community of Nyangoma Division for their warm welcome, co-operation and participation in all our activities. It is also my pleasure to encourage all the readers of this blog to plan to attend the Spring break camps in future. It is an experience impossible to get anywhere else!

LONG LIVE SPRINGBREAK!

Words by Rahab Wamaitha – Spring Break Kenya Camp 2012 participant.

Advertisements

Ondieki N. John: Spring Break Kenya Camp 2012 experience story.

20 Jun
John Ondieki - Spring Break Kenya Camp 2012 participant

“It’s only when I see you and share, that then you will know much this experience changed me and I hope to see you in the next camp so that we share” – Ondieki John

“Hello? How are you doing?” She asked.

“Am OK here, just relaxing,” I said.

“We have a function here at MASENO UNIVERSTY for SIFE and I would like you to come and participate for SPRING BREAK,” She continued.

That one call made on 18 MAY 2012 was able to make me take an important but anxious journey from Nairobi to MASENO UNIVERSITY then to Bondo for a Spring Break Experience with the theme of “COMMUNITY INTERGRATION THROUGH INTELLIGENCIA AND RURAL PARTNERSHIP” to teach, help, learn, be helped and taught by the community we were to visit.

Meeting the unknown faces and people on arrival was a feeling that was unspeakable, let alone that of going to an unknown land and community.

We set out on the journey to Bondo where our camp was to take place and along the way, I could see the happiness on my fellow Springers faces. It would be an understatement to say everyone seemed happy! The activities we participated in ran for one week from 20 to 26 May 2012.During this week we visited different schools and talked to community members about education and agricultural activities that they could undertake to ensure food security. We received good advice and were visited by our Lecturer (famously known as Mama Erick Omondi) and she gave us life lessons worth holding on to.

Did you miss camp 2012?

You missed a lot.

By day 3, I had made many friends within the community and fellow Springers and we lived like a family. It was as if we had known each other for 20 yrs. or so…..It was a like feeling being back at home, yet so far away and without any worries but only expectations for the next day! I was enjoyed myself and learnt a lot from the places we visited and activities we undertook.

New nicknames were the only names you could use as we had gotten used to each other and it was great! I arrived there anxious but I was now wishing the Spring Break Camp would never end.

By day four, we had achieved, learnt and impacted the community, and it was worthy staying there for another….let see……lifetime!

On our last day, we planted new seedlings and talked to various community leaders and dwellers and we had various friends around including our host Mr. Steve Genga. Visiting those schools, seeing young people have a bright future and great hopes in life and making an impact is a feeling you don’t want to miss next time.

I learnt a lot from how to deal with people in any community to how to preserve what I used to take for granted .I made new friends and impacted a positive change in someone’s’ life. Our lecturer taught us that life is not about being rich or poor, but it is all about helping and bettering the life of every person next to you.

Believe me it is worthy and enjoyable to do so because after that, it feels greater than winning a lottery of a billion US dollars or anything…..!

That smile you receive, the happiness, it is incomparable. I miss the moments and times.

When the final day reached we said our goodbyes but surely I was a positively changed man and had learnt a lot more than these pages can fill.

Too big an experience

It’s only when I see you and share, that  then you will know much this experience changed me and I hope to see you in the next camp so that we share.

Though you may have missed this, there will be more and hope you will be there so that we share and learn because it is an experience you don’t wanna miss!

When will be the next camp so that I can enjoy the moments and experience of learning and sharing with the community and Interact?

When will it be so that I can come to see you there?

 

Words by Ondieki N. John – Spring Break Kenya Camp 2012 participant.

Murigi Charity Wanjiru: Spring Break Camp 2012 experience story

20 Jun

Like pregnancy, the birth of a new idea is filled with doubts, tests that come in positive as others negate with the contradicting results. At times, it is difficult to be a complete believer until you see the bulging bump even though you are the carrier. Feeble concepts of the idea began almost a year prior to the inaugural camp in Bondo. Bondo was an awesome experience, those rare ones that you get in with certain expectations and aspirations and they are fulfilled in a different and new way. Let me not preempt myself by going to the birth…I begin at the first trimester.

The Director of Spring Break camp is a man I met in an ordinary scenario; the University’s Library that we both shared. Regardless of the normalcy of the situation, it was no ordinary meeting. I had just met someone who would enable me to see my vision in a clearer picture like moving from a Great wall TV screen to a Bravia flat screen. However, that is a tale for another day. The point of introducing him in this perspective is to make clear from the beginning the weight of his actions in making me a believer in the social movement that is now Spring Break Kenya.

Nine months before 20th of May 2012, an idea was conceived resulting from the famine episode that struck most of the Eastern part of the country. A call for the participation of the youth in getting solutions for the stricken Kenyans was made. As students, what can we do directly in ridding our country of its crippling ailments poverty, corruption and famine topping the list? Always ask what you can do for your community with the resources at hand. Be the change you want to see.

Allow me to skip the details of the first trimester of this great pregnancy and move to December, a trip to Migori in South Nyanza gave flesh to the idea and plans began to situate the camp in Muhuru Bay. Resources were sought, connections were made and plans drawn. Do not be deceived in thinking it was in any way easy simply because I summarize the good and the bad of three months in one sentence. It was to say the least, a trying time that had its enlightening moments.

Like a woman startled in the middle of the night by labor pains that came before their time, did unexpected circumstances occur a month to the D-day. Hahaha!!!! Allow me to laugh at this point because looking back that is all I can do as I remember the moments. They were sporadic and painful but now they bring joy. There were moments I wanted to sleep and wake up in June (note my attempt to time travel and evade the painful moment) but it was the never ending optimism of Simeon, the eagerness of Esther Ngumbi, the hope of Spring break participants on Face book and the eyes of SIFE Maseno students that anesthetized the pain. And so, the month passed then…

A speedy but timely Cesarean section happened: the camp went to Bondo, and what a wonderful birth it was. The pain of the labor is erased and the weight of the months forgotten in that single moment when you set your eyes on the newborn. In our case, the ‘single moment’ stretched out for a week. A week filled with exhilarating moments, disappointments turned opportunities and new experiences.

My week began with uncertainties in the morning and my being drenched in the evening all in the first day. I know I had asked God to open the floodgates of heaven and shower us with blessings but I did not expect to be literally drenched. I arrived in Bondo town from Nairobi later than the other participants, and had to wait in the town to be picked as I was unfamiliar with the area and it was in the night. By the time I left Bondo town and headed for our humble abode, the heavens opened and I got a good shower as I rode on a motorbike in the night. The experience had began! I was cold and shivering as I entered the paraffin-lamp lit house but the reception I got warmed me up instantly. In the few hours they were together, the other participants had already bonded, had gained infectious laughter and teased each other like siblings. My first sign the group was ready for the journey. Later as they gave their expectations and desires for the camp, I saw leaders, thinkers and executives. As written in the Good Book, “As a man thinketh so is he.”

I remember Monday with two main activities: waking up early to fetch water from the village pond and sitting under a tree like the traditional Baraza la Wazee to form a game plan for the week. The process of community integration had begun. The week progressed relatively smoothly given the occasional language barrier bumps and other sharp corners along the road but we sailed through. Over the week, we split up into two groups to enhance efficiency and cover more in the limited time frame which proved to be advantageous as the diverse experiences gave us more lessons.

On Tuesday, we faced the task of communicating to the primary school children. They listened eagerly as we imparted our knowledge on the environment and life skills. The reception from the teachers and the local community was very welcoming given we were strangers in their land -of whom the majority did not speak Dholuo. Wednesday saw us trekking quite a distance to get to the secondary school where we interacted with a group of young boys and girls facing social challenges resulting from the impact of HIV/AIDS, poverty, rural-urban migration on top of the pressures of seeking education with limited resources. As I went round each class listening to the students’ questions and the responses of the Spring Break team, I was awed at how much information exchange was going on. The smile on the students, teachers and Springer’s was enough sign to signify the message had hit home. We went home a tired group with rumbling stomachs but with satisfied souls.

The week would not have been complete without the enriching talk from Madam Muchocho on Thursday afternoon on “the Role of the University on Community Development”. The simplicity of the message made it hit home. What I understood: giving back to the community is not charity
(no pun intended) it is our responsibility, considering what the community has given unto us.

Friday tested my patience and I learnt that sometimes, let things run their course. And they truly did, we had a lovely forum with the farmers on modern agricultural practices and later a tree planting ceremony. It was therapeutic getting our hand dirty and we shared the experience with the old and young, both women and men. I really had fun in the forum interpreting from English to Swahili then translated into Dholuo by Mr. Raphael, one of the teachers and a village elder. It was sad to part ways on Saturday and I believe that for all participants, the week was not simply another experience. It was a defining moment in our lives. My resume reads I am development oriented and I am sure this is the path I want to follow.

The baby (Spring Break) is cute right now, what with all the pudgy hands and chubby cheeks and I cannot wait for the first baby steps but I dread the terrible twos.

But for now Spring break ooooyeee!! Twatoka bara huku Bondo twenda kule Kwale….ala!!! Mtajiju!!

 

Words by Murigi Charity Wanjiru – Spring Break Camp 2012 participant.

Benson Mudenyo: My Spring Break Kenya Camp 2012 experience story.

19 Jun

 

Spring Break Kenya Blog - Camp 2012 participant Benson Mudenyo

Camp 2012 participant Benson Mudenyo
We were however all thankfull that our encounter was great and the Spring Break Camp a great success.In my heart,I silently promised myself not to miss the next camp in Kwale come next year.And what more could I tell myself but a bellowed BRAVO!

When I first walked through the gates of Maseno University on 20th June,I didn’t realize that I had just signed in  for an experience worth documenting.This hit me when Simeon gave me a warm welcome and introduced me to the rest of the Springers who were the liveliest earthlings I ever expected to encounter.Later,as we boarded the university bus and cruised off for Bondo, I couldn’t help but thank my lucky stars for having ushered me to such a humble little family of fellow springers who were swift to take jokes out on me like we were in the same soap opera a month ago.

Living and studying in Egerton University is naturally a fullfilling experience,but interacting with students the likes of Hermon, Joe and Eunice just to mention a few from different universities that first evening was a chance even Donald Trump himself wouldn’t spare to miss.

The great minds I got to interact with as we all brainstormed ideas on how we would handle our week-long activities concerning community intergration, sustainable development and environmental conservation among others was completely overwhelming! Even as I hopped into my blanket that night,I realized that a secret part in my conscience had been clicked open, thanks to Spring Break.

 

The following day saw a flurry of activities as we set camp, debated on what lay on our hands and engaged in critical determination of the most congruent approach to impart our elite skills to the junior students and farmers we intended to visit. Furthermore, it was a perfect opportunity to share our diverse campus life experiences,get to discuss our individual dreams and trust me,we even hitched a hike to the Bondo Hills.

 

When I got assigned to class 3 pupils of Matangwe Primary School on Tuesday morning, I realized that this was a first class test I couldn’t afford to fail. The pupils were so young,so innocent with the passion to learn so well drawn in their passionate eyes. Looking at them was what drew Lenah and I to them. They were quick to respond to questions and appreciated the fun of life skills and the importance of education. I can’t deny that this experience was what steered the desire to interact with students of Got Abiero Secondary the following day, debating on and discussing various issues from the vast academic fields,drugs,sex and relationships to the importance of environmental conservation. Through all these, I came to appreciate the unity these students and their teachers manifested.Indeed it became clear to me that cohesion and intergration  is imperative for success. I couldn’t help beaming at my fellow Springers that evening for having made such a wonderful day a great success.

 

As the days progressed, life in the camp assumed even greater fun. We organized hikes,went collecting firewood,raced wheelbarrows while fetching water and made friends at the market centre.We even torched Maina’s old pants! Little did we know that all this had a sound impact on the community. They admired our unity and enjoyed our fun. They were elated at the photos we flicked,and we were astounded at their warm welcome. Everyone couldn’t agree more with Ms Muchocho; a lecturer at Maseno University, when she visited with her son Steve. They were both very inspirational,urging us to always seek to organize,codify and transform knowledge to the community.

 

I couldn’t believe that Friday had come so early. The closing ceremony was eventful,with us thanking the community for the great time we had and appreciating the elderly advice they offered. My nostalgia was further compounded the next day as we broke camp and left for Kisumu for boat riding. We were however all thankfull that our encounter was great and the Spring Break Camp a great success.

In my heart, I silently promised myself not to miss the next camp in Kwale.

 

Words by Benson Mudenyo – Spring Break Kenya Camp 2012 participant.

Calvin Ogonda: My Spring Break Kenya Camp 2012 experience. The bits you missed!

19 Jun

The Spring Break Camp 2012 was a one of a kind experience that made the one week that we spent together as a group of intellects very memorable.

The camp was the first of its kind in Kenya and I believe that it was such a great honor to be selected as one of the pioneer participants of the event. I personally was enthusiastic about the camp even before the moment arrived because I knew deep down in my heart that I wouldn’t be disappointed in any way.

I got the chance to interact and share experiences with people from diverse backgrounds and it made me realize how culturally rich our country is, and how we can be able to harness this for the greater good of our nation.

I got to Maseno University at around 3pm where participants for the camp were supposed to converge for our departure to the camp site. Everybody was so full of energy and despite the fact that most of the participants had never known one another prior to the camp, conversations were spontaneous and it was like we had known each other for ages! It was a wonderful experience and I knew in my heart that the one-week tour was going to be a life-changing experience.

The participants were students from public universities in Kenya (Egerton, Maseno, JKUAT and Moi).

I was so happy that the moment had finally arrived, as I also had the chance to familiarize myself with a few colleagues here and there.

The camp gave me an opportunity to look inside me a person and ask myself whether I am of use to the society that brought me up and whether I had given back to the society.

Having spent the greater percentage of my teenage life within the rural areas, I have always believed that whatever knowledge that I gather at the higher learning institution where I currently am, I should be able to channel it back to the society where I grew up so that somebody else can also have the opportunity to benefit.

As we visited the primary and secondary schools, I was able to note the challenges that I was also facing when I was at that level. I had the opportunity to inspire motivation and give advice to a few students who I believe benefited. We were also able to tackle some of the environmental concerns that are threatening the existence of our nation and how the community was able to reduce them.

There was a tree-planting session

The tree-planting session which took place on the second last day of the camp was the climax of the activities that took place at the spring break camp 2012. The villagers took interest in it and vowed together with the local authorities to protect the trees at all cost. The youth together with women and children as well as the old participated in the event. It is an understatement to say that the event was great; it was more than great!

By the end of the camp, I could lift my head high and say that I have made a difference in someone’s life and the society as a whole.

The camp gave me a chance to make new friends;

the likes of Maina and Benson who made the whole experience humorous, Lawrence (a.k.a. CUZO), Hermon, Rahab, Mary (……!), Charity, Esther, Ondieki, Joe (za ovyo wewe), Hannington (JAH RASTA), Serah, Eunice (always gave us a reason to smile), Lenah (her smile is awesome, I swear!) and my dear brother Simeon who worked tirelessly to make the camp a success, I salute you all. God bless the Spring Break Kenya Pioneers!

“When special people touch our lives, we see how wonderful and beautiful our world can be. They show us that our special hopes and dreams can take us far. They believe in us, even when we have ceased to believe in ourselves, they add fuel to the diminishing fire of our spirit and rekindle our lost hope. They are not confidence shakers but confidence boosters.”

I hope that you will be part of this cabinet, dear brothers, sisters and dears friend! Before this day ends, make sure that somebody somewhere has a reason to live because you believe in him or her! Give someone a chance to tremendously change the course of his or her life.

I Salute Pioneers of Spring Break Kenya for doing this!!!

The one week journey we had back there in that small village has purposefully made a difference in someone’s life!!

 

Words by Calvin Ogonda – Spring Break Kenya Camp 2012 participant.

Mary Nyoike: My Spring Break Kenya Camp 2012 experience story

19 Jun

Being my first ever camp on community integration and development, it was great and I really enjoyed it!

I learnt that we do not need more strength, more ability or greater opportunity to succeed in life. What we need to use is what we have.

We have our communities as our major resources; for instance, what have you done for your community?

I discovered that our communities really need you and me.

The community requires a person to understand them, equip and empower them and keep encouraging them on economic activities that can help them sustain and improve their living standards. I believe that we all need somewhere to support ourselves in order for us to achieve great things in life and so let us be the solid ground to make great changes to our communities who are very ready and willing to embrace and appreciate new ideas.

In a few words, Camp 2012 was…

very enjoyable, exciting and unforgettable.

It was lively and full of fun despite the serious and tiresome activities. I gained valuable experience in that period and I never regret it because I feel I did my share in community development.

Let’s not just stop there, let’s come together and be the change that we wish to see in the world and that change STARTS NOW!

Words by Mary Nyoike – Spring Break Kenya Camp 2012 participant.

Stephen Maina: My experience in Spring Break Kenya 2012. Here comes the nostalgia.

19 Jun

I arrived in Kisumu town a day before the big week with no clue of how it looked like, I was quite anxious about it but to my surprise I was welcomed in the best way in the world, as far as I remember.

I spent the night at a friends of mine and work up the next day to explore a bit on really what makes up Kisumu.

At around 2p.m I boarded a matatu whose destination was Maseno University. On arrival I met with Simeon and his brother and within a short while we were on our way to Kawino, which is past Bondo, for the week of pure community outreach.

My experience, I must say, was one of my greatest, as I had a good opportunity to interact with children, youths and adults in and around Bondo and Rarieda districts and impacting what I knew to them and reciprocally receiving from them.

We visited several primary schools, which offered great opportunities for interaction with the pupils. It was a chance to challenge and motivate them to work hard. They have to be motivated generally for education.

Without forgetting we managed to visit a secondary school. We divided students into their respective forms and I clearly admire their receptivity and questions that raised. This brought back the nostalgic memories of the days I was in high school.

I loved the idea of school outreaches and believe that it greatly impacted on the students and the community as a whole no matter the language barrier problem.

I would like also to mention on the interaction with the community during the tree planting exercise as I managed to met with some farmers and chatted with them on few skills I knew on farming and finally on the communal planting of the trees in and around Kawino town. I can’t forget the goodafternoon we spent with madam Muchocho for such a great talk on community development, I must say that I borrowed a lot from her and she really impacted on my life.

Finally I enjoyed the company of all the participants as they were all jovial, lovely and really had grown some deep attachments until now that I still make contacts with them.

Generally, my experience was lovely and really looking forward into the next spring break camp to learn and also to share what I have.

Words by Spring Break Kenya Camp 2012 participant – Stephen Maina