It was a long day of traveling. Leaving a full day in Addis Ababa and heading straight to the airport. We arrived at the airport in Addis Abba at 1:00 am in the morning and waited to board our flight to Nairobi Kenya at 4:30. In Nairobi it would be another 3 hours of layover time before heading to our final destination, Kisumu. The flight was 45 minutes long and over a scenic route of mountains and plains below.
By the time we arrived at our hotel the first order of business was to get some much need rest in order to be ready for our first day with the students of the Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School.
We got up at 6 and got prepared for breakfast at 7:30, where we met with the Shashamane contacts in Kisumu to go over the day’s plan. We then headed to a local bookstore to pick up scholastic supplies for the students. It took us two and a half hours drive to the school named in honor of the 44th president of the United States of America.
When we arrived the students were out on their first morning’s break. They were buzzing with excitement as we made our way through the compound to the principal’s office. We were graciously welcomed by the principal, Vice Principal and other members of staff. They thanked us for bring the rain to Kogelo, as the night we arrived was the first time they had rain in over two months.
We had a brief meeting about our intentions and the continued relationship between Shashamane Sunrise and the Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School. Following our meeting we were given a comprehensive tour of the facilities, all of which were in need of improvement, especially the building currently serving as dormitory for students not graduating. This facilitated them working throughout the day to finish their curriculum. You could see on their faces the joy they got from being in school but also the desperate plea for help to improve their facilities by extension their education.
We then met with small groups of students in the graduating class. Each member of the team gave an insight of their life and their professional aspirations and how they would work towards making their dreams a reality. Our hope was to inspire them to push through their adversities and dare to reach for their brightest dream as their dreams too are valid despite the challenges faced. Each student from all the groups’ shared their aspirations to be future engineers, lawyers, professors and doctors. It was inspiring to see each of them stand filled with hope as they shared their dreams.
After our session we then went about distributing the school supplies we brought and we joyfully took a couple photos to capture the memories.
To end our day in Kogelo we made a historic visit to the ancestral lands of the leader of the free world. Visit one of the wives Of President Obama’s grandfather; Sarah Obama. We found her sitting in bright yellow with a kind and welcoming smile, gesturing to us to come forward. We sat with her for awhile as she shared with us her years of supporting the school and even offering scholarships to countless children. After our talk she then invited us to visit the grave side of President Obama’s father Barack Hussen Obama Senior and his Grandfather. It was hard to fight the emotions that gripped me to witness such humble roots of one of the most historic figures of my generation.
We gave our thanks to Sarah Obama for welcoming us to her home and then return to the car for our 4 hour drive to the border between Kenya and Uganda where we would start the final leg of the Africa service tour.