Tomorrow I am going to church here in Kenya. I’m going with a woman named Mama Irene. I think Mama Irene is about 60-years old, I know that I love Mama Irene. I know that everyday I look forward to walking by her. I choose my fruits from her. I walk by her stand and for the equivalent of 1 US dollar I leave with with a bag filled with an avocados, tomatoes, mangoes and bananas. Mama Irene carefully looks at each thing I’ve chosen, and if she thinks there’s a better one, she gives me that instead. I know I love Mama Irene because my own mother would do that for me too, she would make sure that I chose the best one, she would make sure that my hands and belly are full.
Yesterday I sat in a goal and vision coaching session led by one of our amazing ambassadors Christina. And in this I sat next to Magdeline. Magdeline is one of the teachers for AYP. I know I love Magdeline. Magdeline has a vision that she will build her mother a home, a home she says will be ‘big big sooooo big and my mom will never have to pay a landlord.’ How Magdeline will do this is by saving 3000 shillings a month (35 USD) which is about 30% of her current income, and in just about 5-years she will have what she needs: 80,000 shillings (930 USD). In 5-years Magedeline’s mother will have a home built for her in a land known as ‘up-country’ where many folks go when they get older, it’s quiet and its rural. In 5-years Magdelines mother will never again pay a landlord. In 5-years Magdelines mother will receive the surprise of her lifetime, because Magdeline wants to keep it a secret until then. I know I love Magdeline because she reminds me how beautiful it is to live life with a vision and goals.
2-weeks ago I went to my friend Benta’s house. I went with 8 of my new friends from the seva safari and we crowded into a room and drank soda together. This room was maybe 8 feet by 8 feet, and this room is Benta’s house. In this room is one twin bed that Benta and her sister share at night. In this room was one beautiful old sewing machine that represents Benta’s business. Benta is an AYP teacher but she is also a seamstress, and she makes beautiful dresses. I know that I love Benta. On the walls hang pictures of fabulous black women, many of them large and in charge, wearing brightly colored clothing and giant hats. Benta can make anything those ladies are wearing. Benta smiled big big, bigger than the sun as she welcomed us into her home. At only 19-years old, living on her own, having her own business: my friends, Benta has ARRIVED. She and her sister bathe from a pail of water that they must walk to get. She goes to the bathroom a short walk away for a toilet she must pay to use. She sends her mother money every month so that her brother may go to school. She doesnt complain. She welcomes us back ‘you can stay here anytime’ she says, she is telling the truth. I know I love Benta because she understands what a home is: a home is where there is love.
1-week ago I sat on the floor around a table with new friends for dinner. We were Texas, Washington, NY, and Kenya. I know that I love an honest dinner table. We were quite new to each other, but in that temporary way where truth both sets you free and brings you closer, we were not new at all. My friend Bernard, an AYP teacher shared that night during clearings. Bernard was frustrated that he kept sending his father money, when he knew his father was using it to drink. But he keeps sending it hoping that his father might use it to help the whole family instead. He sends it so that his mother, who has long been abused by his father might find a way to leave. But she stays. And Bernard keeps sending money. Bernard said he no longer wants to be angry, that his family was too poor to send him to school, that he couldn’t protect his mother, that he couldn’t stop his father from drinking. Bernard understands that he is a man of choice now, and that he has chosen to make a difference in his life. I love Bernard because he understands that if he holds on to all that anger, he will never be free. He understands he can do it differently. He sighs out a long exhale as he looks at us and says ‘thank you for listening, I don’t like talking about that’. I look at him and see what the truth does: it makes you lighter, more connected, more clear…it doesnt make it hurt less but if it takes away even a little of the shame, it was worth it. I love the courage in Bernard.
Today I had my favorite part of the week: Saturday class. Over 100 people in a room. That’s a lot of heart you know. I know I love saturday class. Saturday is completely free from judgement, and completely filled with movement. It’s in this class where I become so blissfully unaware of how many times during the day I have to ask for something to be repeated, that I dont understand, could you help me understand. Chances are that even if we all spoke one native language I still wouldnt understand. The language barrier just buys me some time and patience. But what I love is that I can admit that now. That I can be in there are things that I see here everyday that I cannot understand. There is no amount of repeating that would be sufficient. I love the truth beginning in me.
The people I am meeting here are the most beautiful people I have ever met. They are windows. They are mirrors. Above all: they are kind. Kindness is the way I have felt listening and hearing here in Kenya. The past few months have taught me about beauty, triumph, and unity, about taking care of one another, I am so very grateful.
I love. I am.
“ the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are “ Joseph Campbell
— please check out the africa yoga project website to see the organization that has captured my heart. I have come to know these amazing individuals one at a time, and by them sharing with me the privilege that is their lifetime: I am the one left honored and inspired. If you would ever want to know more, I am just one message away.