Sylvie’s Journey to Africa: A journey of a lifetime
For many people, a vacation means heading off to a sandy, sun-filled paradise or northern cottage retreat.
For Sylvie Pelletier of Educators Financial Group, and family, vacation meant 10 volunteer-filled days in Kenya as part of Free The Children’s ‘We Trip’ tailored for families.
Having already been familiar with Free The Children (a cause supported by Educators Financial Group), this trip was a chance for Sylvie and family to experience firsthand the hard work and dedication that goes into providing a community with the tools and skills it needs to create long-standing, sustainable change.
“We worked side by side with the people, building schools, carrying water from the river to their homes, and learning about their way of life”, says Sylvie. “I gained a deeper understanding of what life is like in the Maasai Mara and how it is changing.”
It was making those kinds of connections with the locals that perhaps left the greatest impact on Sylvie, and her family.
“Community leaders welcomed us at their school and celebrated our visit with song and dance. Children ran up to us, all with huge smiles, waving and greeting us with ‘Jambo’ (‘hello’ in Swahili). Every day we had the opportunity to connect with so many people from both the Kipsigis and Maasai communities.”
When asked if there was anyone in particular that stood out during her time in Kenya, Sylvie smiled and immediately started listing off names. “There was Wilson, Jackson and Sammy—three Maasai Warriors that served as our guides, protectors, translators and educators. I’ll also never forget Sebastian, who taught us about basic construction using primitive tools, and Mama Jane who invited us into her home and taught us about the seven habits her community is implementing to improve their overall health. Then there was Mama Leah, who taught me the art of beading—a skill that she and other women in her community uses to generate income for their families.”
And how do you sum up the experience of a lifetime? “When I set out to visit Kenya with my family, it was to GIVE of my time and resources. But as I reflect back on my journey, it’s clear to me that I went home having RECEIVED so much more.”