On my first trip to Kenya, we delivered a cow to a family in the Suswa area. One of our team members, Kaci, went above and beyond with her fundraising for lady named Elizabeth. We brought the cow to the local pastor’s house. We call him “Pastor Ben.” He helped us find Elizabeth though our boots-on-the-ground guys, Moses and David. Pastor Ben lives in the same area as Elizabeth, so we thought we’d bring the cow to his house and walk it to Elizabeth’s place.
Elizabeth lives roughly a mile away from Pastor Ben. To the best of my recollection, there was maybe one other house between the pastor and her house. The path we took led us down bumpy dirt roads, recently harvested fields, and ditches. It couldn’t have been a nicer day. Perfect temperature, perfect cloud coverage (very little–blue skies, white puffy clouds dotting the sky) … but that all paled in comparison to the experience itself.
As we walked the cow to Elizabeth’s place, we talked, we laughed, we stumbled, we laughed again, and we had a blast. Here we were, a modge-podge group of crazy Americans and one guy from India, and merrily walked down this dusty dirt path. I’d guess we were maybe the equivalent of roughly 2 blocks from her house when we started hearing something not us. We all kind of stopped in our tracks, wondering what the sound was.
In the distance, we could see a group of people walking toward us. I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I found myself stepping up my pace to find out who these people were. As we got closer, David and Moses told us that the group coming toward us were the villagers and friends of Elizabeth. See, over there, in Kenya, when there’s cause for a family to celebrate, the whole village celebrates. As we got closer and closer, the noise became much more distinct–so much so that David and Moses identified the song that they were singing FOR US. It was a song of gratitude, prayer, and praise to God for bringing Elizabeth this cow.
The whole point of this cow is to help empower Elizabeth to become more financially independent. No, she’s not going to build herself a mansion on the funds this cow brings in, but she can do a lot of things with this cow: use and/or sell milk, churn butter and possibly sell some, have calves that she can, in turn, sell or use for meat … this cow becomes a source of empowerment for her and her family. It will help put her children through school and possibly on to college!
I don’t care how big or burly you are. I don’t care what your testosterone level is. If that kind of scene does not move you to tears, you have no soul. As one of the photographers, I found it nearly impossible to capture a good shot because my eyes were so blurred from tears cascading down my cheeks and soaking the dry, dusty road. My voice caught in my throat, a lump the size of lower Manhatten prevented me from breathing properly for a good few minutes as I drank in the entire scene.
It was in that moment that I realized that we weren’t really the ones changing lives; it was Kenya changing us–molding us to be better people, to show us a better way of living through giving thanks for all that we have had, currently have, and will ever have. It was so inspiring to walk with these people to their village, deliver the cow to Elizabeth, and drink chai tea with them.
Come with us. Your experiences will vary, but the emotions are the same.