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Kenya: A Trip of a Lifetime

Craig, Laura and Natalie Minor and Ryan Ponte take a photo with the Minor's sponsored child Faith.
Craig, Laura and Natalie Minor and Ryan Ponte take a photo with the Minor's sponsored child Faith.

Sponsor Laura Minor shares her story about the recent trip she and her family took to visit her sponsored child in Kenya.

Twenty years ago, we decided to sponsor a child in Kenya, where I’d spent time as a child. We selected Plan International on a recommendation from my in-laws whose own experiences had been positive. From the beginning, we knew we’d made the right choice.

Our first sponsored family was from Meru, and we were lucky enough to stay with that family through the town’s “graduation” from Plan International. For the past six years, our sponsored child has been Faith who lives near Thika. Her father wrote to us about her at first, but recently, Faith has started to write to us herself.

Last spring, we were able to plan a trip that I’d only dreamt about. My daughter, her fiancé, my husband and I booked tickets for an eight day trip to Kenya. I hadn’t been back in 37 years. I contacted Plan International and found out that it would be possible to visit Faith and her family. After completing background checks, we were given the details of when we’d be picked up and dropped off back at our hotel. We received a wonderful packet of information about Kenya with a few phrases in Swahili and also KiKamba (the family’s home language).

Although the village was less than 50 miles from Nairobi, it took about two and a half hours to get there in Plan International’s four-wheel drive vehicle because of the poor condition of the roads. We stopped and picked up Peter, the man who coordinates all of the sponsored children in the region. He’s worked for Plan International for over 22 years and was still passionate about his job.

We stopped at the small regional office which is staffed by two young women selected by their community for a two-year volunteer position. They keep contact with all of the children and their families and maintain hundreds of records. Through this volunteer job, they are developing their computer and office skills. They jumped into the car with us.

A few more very bumpy miles down the road, we stopped at Faith’s school. Out of her classroom she ran, beaming at us. What a greeting! All of the children at the school peered out of the classrooms to see us. We visited Faith’s classroom and took pictures and signed the school’s guest book. We were told about all of the projects that Plan has been supporting at the school from the pit latrines to the lunch program. We donated a map of the United States to the school.

Faith and her brother, Musemi, joined us in our now very full vehicle and a few more rocky miles ahead, we were greeted enthusiastically by Faith’s family and neighbors. Peter facilitated introductions and conversation. He was truly professional.

We were served a delicious lunch with maize, beans, potatoes and millet all grown on their farm. Everyone in the community ate with us after we had served ourselves. We were asked to bring some food for the family and had stopped at a market on our way to purchase sugar, flour, oil and juice. All the gifts were received with gratitude.

We were taken on a tour of the land that they cultivate. Faith’s brother shimmied up a papaya tree and gave us armfuls full of fruit. We told some stories and presented the family with a bag full of small gifts for the family and the children – we included pens and blank books, some bracelets, some cookies and candy, and for Faith’s parents, work gloves and a sewing kit. In addition, I had created a scrapbook with pictures from a variety of places in the United States including our hometown and I had written short stories about our life here.

Soon it was time to say our good byes. There were handshakes and hugs. Many in the family took the opportunity to speak with us in English, including Wanzila, Faith’s mother. I used my best broken Swahili and we parted with smiles all around.

This trip has meant so much to me. It did take a full day of our time in Kenya, but it was one of the experiences that I’ll be talking about for the rest of my life. Thank you, Plan International.

Laura Minor, Craig Minor, Natalie Minor, Ryan Ponte