Dispatch from Kenya: Crutches 4 Africa July 6

The following daily diary is from Cassidy Johnson, a Scottsdale student who is one of six Valley high students visiting Kenya this month to distribute mobility devices as part of Crutches 4 Africa, a service project sponsored by Arizona District 5495 Rotary’s Interact Club. Miss Johnson is a senior at Desert Mountain High School and an assistant governor for the District 5495 Interact Club.

Miss Johnson has agreed to share her journey with the Independent readers via her personally written dispatches.

Visit here to read more about the journey.

Crutches 4 Africa Dispatch: July 6

I fell asleep last night after having fully prepared for the gospel chanting that awoke me yesterday. I got an incredibly restful night of sleep with earplugs, an eye-blind and blaring white noise – and didn’t wake up despite the loud chanting that began at 5 a.m.

Lauren, Emily and I took a walk to Lake Naivasha and saw a few giraffes, zebra and a variety of bird species. After breakfast, the team reunited at DN Handa, the school where we are storing our mobility devices, and loaded our bus for our distribution at Ubuntu.

When we arrived at the distribution site, most of the beneficiaries were already there. I approached each beneficiary, shook their hand, said hello and asked their name in Swahili. Each beneficiary looked in my eyes, told me their names and said “Asanti” – thank you.

However, before distributing mobility devices, Emily, an Ubuntu caretaker, therapist and social worker gave the team a tour of the Ubuntu learning and therapy center. At this facility, children with a variety of disabilities—including cerebral palsy and hyperactivity – are treated in occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy.

Each child at Ubuntu is taught using an individualized approach, ensuring that every student attains the most benefit out of their education. Touring the five rooms at the Ubuntu facility was surreal. With extremely limited resources, Ubuntu is able to grant many children the opportunity to learn and function in society. I am happy to know that Rotary supports this facility so that it is able to grow.

Outside the center, around 15 local children gathered to accept our gifts and play. We gave the children shirts that they immediately put on, then took off in hopes of receiving another. Kara, Jaiden and I taught the kids hand games, like “patty-cake” and “concentration.” A little girl taught me her favorite hand game and we played as she counted to 10 in perfect English. Then, I started a game of tag with some of the boys and wee all giggled as they chased me around the dirt area outside the Ubuntu compound.

The kids practically hung off of my shirt as we played, and loved giving high-fives and fist-bumps.

The distribution at Ubuntu was successful. One woman was so grateful that she invited the team back to her home. She ended up hopping on the back of a motorcycle and carrying her new walker home with a huge smile.

When the distribution was complete, we ate lunch at a nearby hotel with Rotarians. Then, the entire group drove to the Ubuntu factory where local women and men craft beaded jewelry, bags and canvas shoes. We toured the factory and spoke with the workers. Ubuntu employs 103 workers, giving them an opportunity to provide for their families.

Profits raised from sold products go directly to supporting Ubuntu’s free educational and therapy center, café and water purification initiative. I purchased several items in the factory shop, but I won’t name them here because I know my family is reading this and I may have purchased a few gifts for them.

Before eating dinner at the Ubuntu café, the six Rotaract Ambassadors hung out with our Kenyan Rotaract friends, playing soccer, taking photos and teaching them American football.

We had an earlier night tonight, but in Kenya, nothing is early – except, of course, the morning gospel chant!

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