Love, Compassion & More: 4 Lessons I Learnt From My Trip To Africa's Heartland



These words are so true!

Well, to be honest, when we think of Kenya, probably the first thing that pops up on our mind is the picture of the elephants, giraffes, zebras, and lions! No wonder, that’s the most popular image we’ve grown up seeing and it has made a mark on us. But when I traveled to this gorgeous East African nation, I was mesmerized by its beauty and taken aback to see that there’s so much more in Kenya beyond the wilderness & wildlife!

Unlike others, who usually have game drives on the top of their Kenya bucket list, I visited the country for a completely different reason. Fortunately enough, I got the opportunity to volunteer for a childcare project and got to spend a month exploring the country, apart from serving the tiny tots at the Makimei Children’s Home.

Here are some of the beautiful lessons that I learned while I was there and to be honest, my trip to Kenya completely changed my way to look at life.

Photo of Love, Compassion & More: 4 Lessons I Learnt From My Trip To Africa's Heartland by Riyanka Roy

The journey taught me to appreciate the simple things in life.

Being born in an urban middle-class family, life for me has been quite smooth & I’m extremely grateful for that. But when I traveled to Kenya, I realized that things there are very different. Not better, not worse, just different. I was living on the outskirts of Nairobi, in a small town called Kikuyu where I was volunteering with a bunch of other enthusiasts from different parts of the world. All of us, together, were trying to help at this Childcare Center which was providing shelter to 70 little ones, with just 4 people to take care of them.

Living in a remote place, working selflessly for the happiness of those kids, and taking breaks over the weekends to explore the rugged nature & pure wilderness of Kenya made me realize that there are certain things that we need to experience in order to understand them.

It taught me the fact that we don’t really need much to live a good life — and that happiness lies within us. Being surrounded by like-minded, genuine people and doing valuable work felt more satisfying than money could ever fetch me.

Photo of Love, Compassion & More: 4 Lessons I Learnt From My Trip To Africa's Heartland by Riyanka Roy

I learned that compassion can connect cultures. Language barriers are just a myth!

While traveling to a faraway country, we’re always bothered by the thoughts of culture shock & ‘How will I communicate?’, ‘Will people speak/understand English there?’ etc. But during my month-long journey in Kenya, I learned that the free flow of compassion can surpass any cultural differences and the fact that the language barrier is just a myth ‘coz we can always communicate through emotions. While we were working at the childcare center, the kids would come running to hug us and keep blabbering in Swahili (the local language) while we’d continue talking in English/ Spanish with them. But that, in no way, hindered the moments of love.

I still remember those days in Amboseli, when I was staying at a camp with a gorgeous backdrop of Mt. Kilimanjaro and this Maasai lady who used to come and work there, smiled at me every morning. One day, I walked up to her to say that she looks beautiful. She said something in her language, and my guide told me that she’s saying I look beautiful too. We laughed thereafter, and I had tears rolling down my cheeks. It was one of the warmest moments that etched a mark on my heart & soul.

Photo of Love, Compassion & More: 4 Lessons I Learnt From My Trip To Africa's Heartland by Riyanka Roy

I learned that while we crib about little things in life, there are bigger problems that people are dealing with, on a day to day basis.

For most of us, being born in a privileged society and getting to enjoy the basics of life seems normal. We often tend to take things for granted, for we feel that these things are meant for us and we can use them the way we want to. Doing this, we often end up wasting a lot of resources, not being mindful enough & of course, not even thinking for once that someone, somewhere, probably doesn’t have it. I was no different either until this trip happened and I came closer to real problems like scarcity of water & food grains, lack of medical help, so on and so forth.

There have been days when we saw heaps of clothes to be washed, utensils to be cleaned and there wasn’t a single drop of water. A man used to fetch 10 liters of water from a nearby village, on his donkey and we had to wait until he came. Often, there would be nothing but just potatoes for the kids to eat and my heart broke to see how happy they were to have that simple food. We raised funds to buy rice, vegetables, and eggs for the children & even though the meal was basic, it felt like we were having a party.

While we millennials - who’re hooked onto social media otherwise, make a conscious choice to go for digital detox at times, there are several parts of Kenya where the internet is still a far-fetched dream. People live in their own community lifestyle, happily soaking in the sunshine & nature’s vibes, surviving on minimal consumption and quite literally, not bothered of what’s happening around the world.

It does make a difference, as it reduces a lot of woes & anxieties which we often invite in our lives while peeping into others’ lives, through social media.

Photo of Love, Compassion & More: 4 Lessons I Learnt From My Trip To Africa's Heartland by Riyanka Roy

The journey convinced me that we’re all capable of doing great things if we dare to step out of our comfort zone.

When you see people around the globe doing amazing social work, either to protect the environment or to fight against poverty, to eradicate the problems of illiteracy, or control human trafficking, it might seem that these are things we can never do by ourselves. But often, we fail to realize our true potential, ‘coz we’ve never explored certain avenues within ourselves. Trust me when I say this, all it actually takes is to take that step out of the comfort zone and embrace the unknown, be open to what may come on the way, and magic will surely happen.

I always thought, “Can I really do this?” — like traveling to a country thousand miles away from my own, living with strangers who barely understand my language, adjusting to a different culture & then immersing myself in doing something meaningful for them. But when I was there, all my thoughts vanished in thin air, as I was greeted with warmth and in no time, those people became my family. Although my contribution was very little, as they say, ‘Every drop counts in making the ocean.’

Photo of Love, Compassion & More: 4 Lessons I Learnt From My Trip To Africa's Heartland by Riyanka Roy

I’m sure that all you amazing people reading this, would think of visiting Kenya sometime or the other. Let me tell you another secret — Kenya isn’t just about wildlife, as we’ve been always taught in our schoolbooks!

Go ahead, and explore all that this gorgeous country has in store for you and I know that like me, you’d also return back as a more humble & enriched human being.

Have you been to Kenya? How was your experience in the country? Let me know in the comments below. Or write about it here on Tripoto and earn Tripoto Credits!