Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tuonane (See You Soon)

            I thought after nearly two months in Africa, I would be ready for home. I love my family and friends, I love my home, I love school. Never did I expect to have a pit in my stomach for days ahead of our departure and strong, bittersweet emotions about the return home. Instead of excitement, I was only feeling overwhelmed by all the things I still wished to do, everything there still was to learn, and all the people with whom I still wanted to talk. The Ambassadors of Hope welcomed us into their lives with a love and warmth that I have never experienced in my life. This is not an exaggeration. Every interaction I had was full of sweetness and kindness, support and positivity.
            The Ambassadors were unique in many ways, and the love they exuded was a dominant trait that ran through them all. An equally endearing yet far less obvious trait was a strong humility. We asked the Ambassadors to explain why they decided to join WOPLAH and work towards health equity in Mumias. Again and again the Ambassadors answered in the simplest way. They did not tell stories of inspiration, or personal hardship. They did not paint a picture of themselves as martyrs or saints. Rather, they framed it like this: a problem existed in their community, and they had the ability to fix it. They saw a solution, or at least a beginning of one, so they’re doing what they can to reach that solution. Simple, logical, incredibly humble.
            The love that the Ambassadors of Hope have for their community is perfectly expressed in the words of Joseph Shitseswe, an Ambassador, to members of the Khaunga support group:

“I love your life, so you have to make sure that you love your life… On behalf of the Ambassadors of Hope, we have hope. We will live. We want to make you to feel like you have life. We hope when these visitors leave, and return again later, they will find you healthier than today… The Ambassadors of Hope—we are together with you, and we care for you, and we love you.”

            There is so much more to say about this experience, what we learned and what we’ll bring back to GlobeMed at CC. For now, I will say that I feel more blessed after this summer than I ever have before. I am blessed, first, for the time spent surrounded by these amazing people. And also, for everything I did return back to that was wonderful and comfortable and safe.

            So, the day to leave the Ambassadors of Hope did come. I left Mumias with promises to see the Ambassadors again—first over Skype, and later in person. We learned more from the Ambassadors than we would have ever been able to give. This summer we entered a partnership that will last for years into the future, and now we are confident that this exchange of knowledge, and a strong friendship to go along with it, will make the partnership strong.

Maggie Dillon

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