Grateful: [greyt-fuh l]
definition: warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful:
example: I am grateful to you for your help.
Though I think I have a pretty good grasp on the meaning of today’s word inspiration for this series on my “tripidation” to Africa, it was good to see what dictionary dot com had to say. The time spent in Dandora, one of the largest slums in Nairobi, Kenya wasn’t easy. But it was so worthwhile. And the trip that I took with loads of trepidation, has stayed with me emotionally in more ways than I can succinctly express in words. Which is why it has taken me over a month of allowing my soul to “marinate”. As well it helps to flesh it all out by breaking it up into several posts with key words as prompts for reflection. Of course photos are always a wonderful way to show a glimpse, a paused moment in time of the feeling that was present. And Hubby’s photos are always fabulous in my eyes! I’m sure you can tell which ones are mine, as I’m the chef not the photographer.
So how does today’s word manifest itself in our friends from Dandora? Well, to be honest, they really are the role models for gratitude. They couldn’t thank us enough. Each and every day telling us through words, showing us through actions such as giving us gifts, feeding us their delicious food, and sharing a physical gesture. You could sense the sincerity in their handshakes, hugs and smiles. They are incredibly thankful for all we have given them of course, but mostly they are grateful for our support. Feeling abandoned by their own people, literally considered like the trash that inhabits the dump they live near, our visit made them feel that they matter, that someone cares, and that they are loved.
One day in particular we visited BOMA rescue mission. This group rescues young people from a life scavenging on the dump just outside their doors. The hopelessness of that kind of life leads many to become glue sniffers as an escape. But in BOMA they’re provided shelter, food, clothing, schooling and mostly love. When we visited our group brought new clothes, shoes, toys, and sports equipment and you would have thought it was Christmas morning. I asked one of the counselors how many groups like ours visit them in a year and they said none. Only the group from St. Monica’s visits. And the children wait for that day all year. Not for the things we bring. But for the time we spend with them and the love we share. Their gratitude was so thick that it cut through the stench of the fermenting garbage in the air. We all enjoyed our time with these amazing people, the kids, the counselors and the women who live there and are lovingly referred to as BOMA Mommas.
Another day we spent at the Nyumbani Orphanage. While they get a bit more help financially from other sources, they were still thrilled and beyond thankful for our visit, gifts and monetary help. They were especially appreciative of the time we spent with them. The children have no parents, lost to the AIDS epidemic, and these kids themselves live with HIV. This place is their home now and the playground is dotted around the edges with little cottages that each house 14 kids with a Kenyan woman they call Mama who looks after them. The Mama’s were grateful too, as they got a short respite from looking after the kids while we laughed and played.
I’ve written on here before about gratitude. I am a big believer in giving thanks and my hubby even teases me about the fact that I write thank you notes to someone who sends me a thank you note. He’s exaggerating. But appreciation is free. It doesn’t cost a thing but it is priceless. I know that since my time in Africa, my gratitude game has just been kicked up a giant notch. Oh and about that joy that I mentioned here on day one of “Tripidation”: Well, the quote at the top gives an explanation as to why the good people of Dandora embody the word JOY…because they are GRATEFUL!
Lastly, just a couple more photos, one was taken with Julia the head chef of St. James’ Primary School. I’ll share more about her tomorrow, but suffice it to say we are soul sistas from another mista! She was so grateful that I wanted to help her in the kitchen. I mean she and her team feed 600 kids and staff everyday, in my eyes she’s a rock star! Yet I was grateful to her for opening her kitchen and her heart to me. And finally another picture of the beautiful Brenda, a student at St. James’, who kept hugging me and thanking me for being there. Wow!
I LOVE you and I THANK you!