Upon arrival to the airport we were confident in our preparation for every possible scenario, until the team ended up in one we never even considered. Due to bad weather, our first flight was canceled, leaving Mike scrambling to rebook all of our flights, and the team anxiously waiting for information on when we would get to Sigomere. As the pieces began to fall back into place, flights were rebooked successfully with a more direct route through London losing only one day. This was much better than the information we initially received from the booking agent, which would have put us in Sigomere three days later.
The previous day’s misfortune left us with a long layover in London. Although getting to Sigomere was the team’s top priority, we took full advantage of the situation. For such short notice, the accommodations were incredible. The location gave us easy access to everything anyone could ask for with a quick overnight layover. After everyone freshened up it was a no brainer to start making our way to one of the oldest pubs in London for a pint with fish and chips. It would have been easy to stay the remainder of the evening in that old pub, but we didn’t have much time and we were on a mission to make the most of our time in London. With no disagreement, the team marched straight towards the most famous clock tower in the world—Big Ben.
With Big Ben in our sights, the team enjoyed getting to know one another a little better as we navigated the foreign streets. Making our way closer to our destination, the sweet summer breeze delighted us all, especially for one traveler, Cody. With the small, circular, shiny object burning a hole in his pocket, he nonchalantly asked Drew if his camera was ready, and without hesitation, got down on one knee and asked the love of his life, Jenna, if she would spend the rest her life with him. After a sure- hearted “yes” and a few joyful tears, they caught up with the rest of the group and continued on with the sights.
It could have been the moments leading up to our arrival, but Big Ben seemed more impressive than we could have imagined. Perfectly lit by the evening light the team made the most of the moment by filling up the memory on their phones with smiling faces and old architecture. A short train ride later, the team was back at the hostel. After a quick introduction to the charade-like game called the Invictus Bowl, the team was ready to rest up for the next leg of the trip.
The long flight flew by as did the landscape below as it changed from the concrete jungle of London to the green farmlands of southern Europe, to the vast orange sand dunes of the Sahara, until we finally arrived to Nairobi. Having such a long flight meant we got in late, and by the time we received our visas and tickets to Kisumu for the next morning it was time for a quick sleep at the YMCA. This time it was much shorter and before we knew it, we were on another plane headed to Kisumu.
Once in Kisumu, we were met by George, a wonderful man who has worked with Mike for the past few years and one of the main reasons ideas turn into reality here in Kenya. He made it clear that his job today was to make sure we got everything we needed, including some short exposure to WiFi so we could send a note home to let loved ones know we made it safe and sound. After the groceries were bought and loaded into the cars, we were finally on the road to our final destination, Sigomere. Much to our surprise, the roads were paved for 90% of the trek, although they were still pretty rough. Our driver, Maurice, made bouncing over speed bumps and weaving through pot holes while dodging people on bikes and other motorists look extremely easy. The group only had to hold their breath a few times as we narrowly bobbed and weaved for 90 minutes.
Finally we have arrived in the village we’d be working in. Once at the guesthouse, the bags and groceries were unloaded, rooms and roommates were sorted out, and lunch was enjoyed. After a quick rest and brief introductions to Sarah and Jane, the wonderful ladies of the house who made the delicious lunch and who will be making sure our clothes would be clean and bellies full, we ventured out into the town.
Through the eye, Sigomere was everything we imagined, but we were taken back at how accepting and welcoming everyone in the community was. It was such a treat to feel welcomed and comfortable walking through town. Many people stared, some waved and smiled, and many of the little ones trailed after us giggling. On the other side of town was our first stop to the orphanage. We hope to spend much more time here, as these kids could light a fire with the warmth of their hearts. While walking back to the guest house from the orphanage, we could tell that everyone had arrived physically and emotionally with open hearts and open minds.
Back at the guest house, dinner was being prepared while everyone rested. A productive meeting was held with the civil engineer in charge of the bridge project leaving everyone with action items to be taken care of before moving forward. Everyone gathered for dinner and we were lucky to be joined by our friend Peter, a teacher in the community. Dinner wrapped up and everyone made it through without falling asleep mid-meal. After dinner, some went straight to bed (it was 6:30 pm), some had tea, and some kicked a ball around. Within the hour everyone was showered and ready to hit the hay.
We look forward to working, learning, and growing with each other. We cannot wait to get out into Sigomere to build relationships through sharing open hearts and open minds, and turning misfortune into gold.