That is a quote from my friend Cindy, upon finding out that I was to be deployed to Kenya for a month as part of the IBM CSC. She had recently returned from an extended trip to Africa – and said it was nothing short of amazing.
To date, our work here has been focused on our client projects. This alone has been a great experience - to be working in an emerging market on issues that many countries around the world are also facing. But the “S” in CSC stands for service – so we as team decided early to be very involved with our host communities. So even before we arrived in Africa, we had done some research and coordinated some team visits to community organizations.
Today, we visited Allamano school, a home and education facility for mentally disabled children. The reception was amazing – we were greeted by the head of the facility, Sr. Jane – who promptly led us out to the soccer pitch, where the children were already playing. They we so happy to see us, and promptly swarmed us as we approached. It wasn’t long before a game of soccer (ok, futbol…) broke out – and let me tell you, these kids weren’t pushovers. Some might say we were doing a bit too much huffing and puffing for a pickup game – and I will go down swinging saying it was the altitude (1,900 meters).
We were treated to a tour of the school, and then presented them with a number of gifts from the team – including a laptop computer loaded for bear with educational and fun software. The children performed some amazing songs for us, and there was a lot of time to just hang and have fun.
In the afternoon, we visited an orphanage in the town of Mweiga – another great facility (if you would call it that – it was really just a couple small buildings), with terrific people running the show. We spent the time singing, dancing, playing games – just being there with these great kids.
As with most people, I have done some community work and of course been exposed to different situations. But something about these children and the setting was different. Really an amazing experience overall. I could tell by the smiles on faces all around when we left (both us and the students), that “change” was in fact the right word.