by Ana Cecilia, Work-Study, IHF Kenya
All my life I have taken many things for granted. I guess not everybody realizes that many of the things we have in our lives are special in many ways. Life can start, continue and end without worrying about major complications, and that doesn’t mean that our life is boring, or that it is not special, it just means that we are very lucky to have the opportunity to live without worrying, suffering, or being at risk.
I had never felt these emotions until the other day my mother sent me some pictures of me when I was little. It was very nice to see them, to see myself as a young girl, with the same hair, the same smile, the same energy; in that moment I started thinking about my childhood, and I realized I was a really happy kid but also an extremely privileged one.
I have been living in Kenya for more than two months, sharing a home with seventy children and teenagers from Pokot, and as days have passed by I’ve had the chance of getting closer with some of them, meeting their families background and life stories, but also understanding what they have been through.
When you take a break to think what such a terrible life they have and when you realize that the kid who is living with you has been through things such as abandonment, family violence, alcoholic parents, starvation, child labor, among many other hard situations, the heartache becomes unbearable.
It is true that poverty is present wherever you go. The poverty in Kenya is no different from the poverty of Mexico, or other countries struggling with a situation of underdevelopment and inequality. Certainly there are levels, and there are different conditions, but when it comes to the life of a child, any situation in which they are not receiving the love of their parents and basic needs, there is already something wrong.
Then I think about my childhood, the way I grew up, the artistic afternoons with my mother; the trips around my country in which I learned about history, culture; my education; my dancing classes; the love and support of my parents; the opportunities I got to develop all my skills and to get to know my strengths and weaknesses. I have always been grateful for the way my life has developed, but I had never realized how lucky I was.
Even though these comparative thoughts are a sad reality, I think that one of the things that all the kids of the world have in common, in easy or difficult situations, is that they are all small human beings that remain innocent, joyful, and creative. They don’t know if they are privileged, or if they are living an unfortunate situation, because they are just enjoying their lives and adapting to what life puts them through for them. This is why here in IHF Kenya you will always find a smile in the children faces, have a great time playing with them, and admire their strength and resistance to situations in life.