By Joclyn Kidwell, Staff Writer
Mike and his family at their home in Bungoma, Kenya.
In January I spent three weeks in Kenya. I have hundreds of stories of my trip. There were movie-like landscapes and beautiful animals. There were also starving children, miles of poverty-stricken shanties, and an incredible feeling of heartbreak. Emotions come in waves when you are in a place like this; it changes you.
The people of Kenya will forever be a part of me. Their absolute joy for life is awe-inspiring. It is generation after generation of love mostly because that is all they have. Because of this, the children of Kenya are brilliant little lights of courage and joy.
One of these little miracles had a tremendous impact on my trip, and honestly, every day since. A boy named Mike is my very favorite memory of Kenya.
Walking down the dusty road, I passed a school. All of the children leaving for lunch at their homes filtered out into the street. They wanted to come close and talk, but none of them would give me a high five or shake my hand.
For the first time ever, I was the minority. I was the stranger that didn’t look like anyone else these kids had ever seen.
They giggled uncontrollably as they babbled in Swahili. I laughed along with them as we continued to walk.
We passed another school; the crowd grew. I now felt like the Pied Piper with close to 50 children swarming around. The crowd grew as we passed the third school, and I saw a familiar face.
It was Mike, a little boy I had met a few days earlier. He didn’t know, but we were on our way to his house.
I reached out my hand from the crowd; without any hesitation, he took it. Mike took my hand, smiled the biggest smile, and walked with me in the midst of the crowd. The children laughed harder; the Swahili chatter got louder.
As we got closer to Mike’s house, our crowd had dwindled as children broke off to make their way to their homes. When we got to Mike’s door, I politely told the remainders goodbye.
Mike’s mother invited us to have a seat in the small plastic chairs that furnished one of the two rooms of their small mud house. I reached in the plastic bag I had carried and showed Mike the reason for our visit. It was a new school uniform. That little boy’s face lit up, and I will never forget it.
He had shown me how much of a little blessing he is when he took my hand, not knowing what I had in the other. He was not afraid to show me love, even when his friends laughed.
Little Mike will never understand that the gift he received that day will never match the gift he gave.