I want to share my story of the trip I made with my friend Aman Bal to Kenya and get together with the team of hard working volunteers that day by day deliver seminars, workshops, events, raising awareness on the Truth About Drugs, the declaration of Human Rights, uplifting communities through the common sense guide The Way to Happiness and more.
Regardless of how descriptive I can write about my experience in Kenya, I feel it is not possible for any reader to grasp and understand the reality on the ground as I saw it, but I am going to try.
Barry Paul Miruka is an extraordinary man, he is the executive director of Giselle Foundation in Kenya. He has a very strong intention and purpose to spearhead a movement to improve conditions in Africa for its people through the implementation of 4 different social programs and its material. Barry has no interest in material possessions at all but lives, eats and breathes his dream of expanding into a massive movement of volunteers, delivering these social programs to the people of Africa. His heart and purpose are unwavering but there are extreme challenges.
From this space, the volunteers run all of their social campaigns. I have never seen such impeccable record keeping and all volunteers have a file containing plastic covered pages of information on them, history, education etc. There are over 1800 volunteers including other locations.
Giselle Office building
Ground Floor officespace
Second floor that we are going to renovate for offices and training of volunteers
A small group of the “In Charge” volunteers
The challenges are easy for me to describe as I saw them firsthand. Reading this requires some imagination and a willingness to truly grasp the reality, which you are able to once you experienced it for yourself.
There is no money – there is poverty everywhere, the environment is harsh, the living conditions are appalling, the roads are horrible and requires vehicles with tough suspension and 4-wheel drive capability in many areas that I visited. The people are beautiful, kind, helpful and highly interested in learning. The travel to villages outside the location of the office in Kisumu requires three times the time as it would on smooth paved roads, not to mention the frequent rain in some regions which causes volunteers extreme challenges. At present Giselle Foundation does not own a vehicle.
Terribly rough roads
The social programs that have taken place to date have covered all schools and areas that are able to be accessed without a vehicle. It is not possible for the groups to travel beyond those areas where they can get public transport and walk to deliver, carrying the materials personally. Public transport consists of small buses (vans) that hold about 30 people and they are unreliable. They do not have a specific schedule and sit by the side of a road until it fills up and then they leave. A very common form of public transport is motorbike taxi. There are hundreds of motorbikes on corners waiting for someone to request a ride.
We met 60 volunteers here on top floor. This is hours away from Kisumu
60 volunteers greeted us on the top floor of this building. The floor moved as we moved. A bit scary!
Avery tough existence for many.
We visited several outlying villages where volunteers met us with open arms, smiles and overwhelming theta. The Chief of that area was present, and she is in charge of the region and has extraordinary responsibilities. The lady above in the middle is Esther. She is a Govt official from National Authority for Campaigns against Drugs and Alcohol (NACADA). We have become very good friends.
During my visit, we drove for hours (each trip) to several communities where there are volunteers and much needed assistance. The group in the photo below are so happy about an oxen and plough that was donated to them for improved farming. They take care of 140 orphan children and the funding is vitally needed. We sat and listened to stories about The Way to Happiness and how these common-sense moral guide have changed their lives.
As far as delivery is concerned, it is necessary for the above conditions to be duplicated so that behind the production, statistics, and results, the effort and challenges to get those results are extreme. Think about the fact that the full-time volunteers (there are hundreds) have to walk several miles each day to and from work, to and from delivery locations and carry their materials. They can’t afford transport but use the motor bike taxis where possible as they are less expensive. These volunteers do not receive income. They get supported somehow by perhaps parents or friends or their partner may work as an example, but all do not eat well. They have a cup of tea made with hot milk at 11 a.m. and eat a meal when they get home at night. No purchase of food by way of “fast food” is possible for them.
I must get help to create funds for the upstairs office to get renovated and for the volunteers to have some resources. I will supply a fridge, tea, and some basic supplies to help while we are fundraising. Funds are needed for a vehicle (a van) or two and possibly an additional car for local meetings with government.
I have taken on the purpose of supporting the African continent. It is my passion now to help!
I want to invite everyone to participate and “Fund a Kenyan Volunteer program” and this will be a lot of fun.