HOW THESE CHILDREN TRULY IMPACTED MY LIFE
Before I visited Kenya, I knew that when I landed in this country I was bound to see things that would break my heart, that would fulfil it and that would split my head and my heart in two.
I knew that this place was one so unlike the home I’ve been accustomed to, but never in my life did I think it would affect my mindset like this.
It was a Thursday morning, the only day of the week that a local village market took place in Aitong – a remote location in the Maasai Mara.
We had been awake for over 4 hours, gliding high above the Mara in a hot air balloon, leaving my eyes a little heavier than normal. After 2 hours of driving on our way back to camp, our driver dropped us in Aitong to meet our guide and the rest of our fellow travellers.
We were guided around the market to experience how life in the Maasai is really lived, which was an eye-opener on its own. The atmosphere was incredible; buzzing with life and the smiles of hundreds of locals.
Witnessing how these people make a living, the struggles they have to go through and the distances they travel in order to sell their goods was both overwhelming and beautiful at the very same time.
These people sat in the dirt; surrounded by rubbish with blankets laid out to protect themselves and their hundreds of handicrafts and sellable goods. If that wasn’t enough to make us recognize our privilege, what happened next was sure to do so.
Our guide had left to take care of some business, leaving our small group of 4 people left by the car to take in the surroundings and enjoy the sunshine. It was here, that 5 young children became aware of our presence.
They came close; playing in front of us with pure fascination. They were intrigued by our appearance and our reason for visiting their small part of the world – with no other white person in sight, their fascination was certainly valid.
They played and played, smiling and interacting with only the kindness of our eyes to communicate.
After 10 minutes of them trying to get our attention, we thought it was time to really interact with them. My DSLR camera was draped across my shoulder the entire time in the market… And they were intrigued, just as their elders were.
I started to take their photo, showing them the screen after every snap, leaving them in complete disbelief.
It’s my assumption that they had never seen themselves on any form of technology before, let alone had they ever seen the device in itself. Their eyes lit up in an instant; some with slight confusion as to what was placed beneath their noses, and others captivated by this foreign piece of technology.
From this point on, the kids were attached to us. They hung around for a long time to play, laugh and interact with us just as children do.
Along with clapping hands and playing child-like games with the children, we wanted to see their reaction to snapchat.
For those of you that have used snapchat before (I’m sure you have), you’ll know that there are filters you can apply to your face when it’s in frame. Something I constantly take for granted and see as an irrelevant day-to-day item, was utterly mind-blowing to these children.
Even the elderly women were coming over in interest due to the reaction from the kids. They were screaming, laughing, hanging over our shoulders and having the time of their life – literally.
These children evidently had nothing.
They lived far below the poverty line and far below what would ever be acceptable in the western world. Their faces were dirty, their clothes were tattered and it was very clear that this life they live was one that we could never possibly imagine.
They most likely lived in a tiny hut – without a toilet, a shower, a fridge or what we would label as a ‘usable bed’. They have been born into a life that they never had the chance to choose and they will grow up completely unaware of the greed and fortune that those on the other side of the world are accustomed to.
They looked at these 2 items that I constantly take for granted – an iPhone and a camera – like a piece of magic.
As I use these to fuel my career, to ‘fuel my life’ and feed my greed, these children play with garbage bags whilst their parents struggle to survive.
Instead of using iPads and computers to entertain themselves, they use rubbish that lays around the street to fulfil their needs as children.
When I left these kids in their village surrounded by garbage and desperate, hungry people… I felt heart-broken. Broken because these kids had just been shown a side to a life that they will never have, but grateful that they had taught me a lesson that no education could have ever shown me.
These children showed me my privilege.
They showed me the stupidity that comes along with living in a fortunate part of the world; the greed, the materialism and the severe lack of gratitude.
They showed me the importance of being grateful for this fortunate life that I live and the things that I constantly take for granted; my ridiculous amount of clothes, my home, my health, my laptop, my camera, my iPhone and my simple ability to travel – just to name a few.
I’ve had experiences like this before, but never have I felt so touched by one. These kids snapped me back into reality – a reality check that I think we all need.
These kids were happy, beautiful and just as you would expect any other child to be… But with a whole lot less. They couldn’t speak my language, and I couldn’t speak theirs. But even without the technology, they were very grateful for my presence.
Travelling for miles simply to take a selfie with poor children is something I really DO NOT recommend. It’s something that has become a bit of a trend over recent years; when ‘travellers’ go to orphanages for a selfie to boost their presence on the internet. It’s damaging to say the least.
Here however, these children came to us – I was never expecting to see these local children on our journey, nor did I expect them to want to interract with us the way that they did.
It was a totally natural series of events, and I left knowing that I at least made these children laugh for a small portion of their day.
I left these 5 children knowing my place in this world; to spread awareness about these issues, to share the beauty in diversity and to make people recognize how damn lucky they really are.
Reading this on your device right now is something you must never overlook, and that’s exactly what these kids taught me.
I left a piece of my heart with these children – and I will never, ever forget it.
[ READ NEXT: Life in a Kenyan Maasai Village ]
Disclaimer – Thank you once again to the team at Losokwan Luxury Tented Camp, for welcoming me into their camp and showing me the true Kenyan way of life. All opinions are my own!
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