The intent of our third and most recent trip in March, 2016 was to build upon the relationships that have been established and to spend quality time with the children and staff. The group that attended this trip was comprised of five YMCA directors, one Board of Directors member and three community members, the largest group to date having visited from our Y. Two members of our group brought duffle bags filled with collected school supplies, t-shirts, soccer balls and books for FAFU’s library.
Once on the ground and inside FAFU’s walls, we were greeted with jubilation, songs and dancing, a testament to how much our work and dedication are appreciated. The week was filled with getting to know the teachers, working beside them and learning and growing with the children. When we were not playing, singing, dancing or writing, we painted the FAFU cafeteria, set up their library with the donated books or organized the school supplies collected from our community members here in New Canaan. Lastly, one of the biggest projects we had set out to do on our trip was to install a playground. Unfortunately, the playground was not released from a Kibera holding yard and the project was not completed at that time. Since then, the playground has been released and was installed in January 2017 to the extreme excitement and joy of its beneficiaries.
Prior to this trip, the Y staff reached out to the community and met with fourth graders from New Canaan’s East and West Schools as well as a first grade class from Jefferson Science Magnet School in Norwalk. The Y staff presented information about FAFU to the students who then wrote letters and drew pictures to present to the children from FAFU. In addition to this, the students were so interested in the lives of the children from FAFU that they were inspired to help. The West School fourth graders held not only a school supply collection but also a walk-a-thon to raise money for FAFU. The Y’s Rainbow Station 4’s were also involved by creating collages for the children from FAFU. Upon the Y staff’s return from Kibera, the New Canaan and Norwalk school children were presented with letters written to them by their new friends from FAFU.
We were able to bring back with us not only memories that will last a lifetime but knowledge based on experience of how simple human connections can make a huge impact on a person’s life. The things we take for granted in this amazing country in which we are fortunate to live are the very things that the people of Kibera are in desperate need of to just survive each and every day.
In 2011, a second trip was taken with a focus on building a site for the school. Our Y would come to see first-hand the impact of our support on the Kibera children and their community. We spent time with the Facing the Future (FAFU) staff and their board of directors to assist with developing self-sustainable projects through multiple ventures.
Since the first day we stepped on Kibera soil in 2007, we knew that we needed to support Simeon the best way we could so that his dream of helping the children and giving back to the Kibera community would be a reality. The need for human connection, not to mention a new school building to teach and house as many children as possible with whatever resources Simeon could obtain, was apparent. In good conscience, we could not sit back with this knowledge and do nothing. So we decided to Do something.
For more information about our partnership or participating in a service trip, contact Diana Riolo at 203-920-1653.