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Saturday, 07 October 2017
Published in PROJECTS

And we won!!!

We thought we had won a volunteer holiday during which we were going to Lamu to help people in need through our “western and developed” contribution, but just stepping on the island made us realise that we would mutually help each other.

Let’s start from the beginning...

After getting confirmation that there were no available places for September, we quickly started dealing with the idea that it wouldn’t be possible this year, despite being available for the holidays and having saved the money for the experience that we had wanted to live for the last two years, being holidaymakers at Afrikable! It was such a shame... other colleagues booked it first and the order of arrival must always be respected. Afrikable decided to draw a raffle based on buying tickets to help finance the “Maternity Home”, an ambitious project that will enable women to monitor, control and give birth in adequate conditions unusual in the area. I decided to help by buying and spreading tickets among people close to me. The raffle took place on March 30, my work shift that day was from 2 pm to 10 pm so the first thing I would do after work would be to check the raffle tickets. I didn’t get the chance to... Lola had already written me to congratulate me on... my birthday! That’s right, my birthday is March 30! I thanked her and she called me...

Lola: Alejandro, happy birthday!

Me: Thanks, Lola! I was just leaving work... I haven’t even walked out the door yet.

Lola: I’m calling to congratulate you on your birthday… and on the raffle!!! You won!!!

Me:

Yes, I was speechless... uncontrollable nerves ran through my body in a matter of milliseconds, unable to do anything but enjoy it. It was a unique day that I will never forget. I quickly called my brother and we started thinking about the wonderful experience we were going to live. We had won a volunteer holiday!

Months later we arrived to Lamu, from where I’m writing you. From the air you feel like the island has that something... and when you land you can confirm that it’s nothing like what you have experienced before. You go from the airport to the island in a wooden launch with people who don’t stop smiling. The coordinators wait for you on the other side, with such joy and enthusiasm that confirms it’s going to be an unforgettable experience. The village is buzzing with life and joy, they insist that you feel welcome, and you will hear the words Jambo, karibu (“Hello, welcome”) constantly throughout your stay, always accompanied by a dazzling smile created by the contrast of their skin colour.

We arrived at the facilities where Afrikable develops its project. Joy and harmony are in the air. There’s a great sewing team of lively women with a look of satisfaction when people visit their work area. A footwear workshop where they make the sandals that will be sold under fair trade standards in different places, whose dedication and hard work make the western public appreciate their quality. A nursery school, fundamental element of the project. Children’s school, backbone of society where Afrikable tries to perform a thorough and meticulous work. Proper nutrition, personal hygiene care, health, learning how to read and write, learning English, believing in a better world, fighting to improve and not settling for what has already been established and, above all, making them feel loved and very appreciated. And the new jewel in the crown, the Maternity Home, is now a reality! Construction is very advanced, the building can be seen, it has shape and, two days ago, they finished putting the roof on. My tickets and those of the collaborators are plastered on every stone. There’s still work to be done and funding to be acquired, but everything runs smoothly!.

We were soon assigned the tasks or areas in which all of us who had come during the same period would collaborate. After several days, we all had the same feeling... we didn’t feel that useful... “I just go grocery shopping to the market”, “I’m just holding babies all morning”, “I just cut and stick sandal soles…” We all had the feeling that we were coming to “change the world!!”, we felt energized enough to “improve all of Lamu in 3 weeks!!”. After sitting down to ponder for a few minutes, I realised that our desire to be useful and ambitious didn’t allow us to notice that thanks to us everything else was moving further, that mothers could work because we looked after their babies, that children learned English thanks to the games teacher holidaymakers prepared, that the children could eat thanks to the person who went grocery shopping to the market every day, that people could work in facilities in optimal conditions because maintenance workers did their job well. And I started to smile! I felt very useful and... “I was changing the world!!”, exactly what I came to do! It was wonderful!.

Alejando en el mercado y con los bebés

Days have gone by so fast. We spend the mornings helping out and the afternoons exploring the island and its surroundings, enjoying the charming beaches, unforgettable fresh juices, boat rides and a beer in a floating bar that captures every visitor’s attention. On weekends we go on longer trips, such as safaris or stays in unspoiled islands that require a full day.

Alejando de safari en el Parque Nacional de Tsavo

I’ve loved Africa and I feel like with Afrikable I have understood it better. I have been able to go deep into the reality of Lamu’s society. Now I understand those times I have been told that Africa leaves no one indifferent. Today, I’m incapable of giving a verdict nor a more or less profound opinion on Africa and I don’t expect to be able to give one for months, when I’ve had the chance to take in and assimilate everything better. Afrikable and the raffle have allowed me to live a unique experience, to discover a different world, to value aspects that I had already forgotten and, above all, to do my bit for a better Lamu. I take with me friends, memories, experiences, images, both those captured by the camera and those that will never be erased from my mind, nature and bits of Africa.

Goodbye from two holidaymakers who will always carry in their hearts Afrikable, their women’s entrepreneurship and the hopes pinned on Africa’s future generations.

Alejandro and Pablo Martín

Despedida de Alejando y Pablo Martín

 

Author: Alejandro Martín | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

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ABOUT AFRIKABLE

Afrikable is a Spanish charitable organisation, registered in the National Register of Associations under number 1/1/594088 and in the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID)'s Register of Non-Governmental Organisations under number 2033.

 

In Kenya our association is called Afrika Able Organization and is registered with Kenya's NGO Coordination Board under number 10976.

WHERE ARE WE

  • Lamu, Kenia.
    Madrid, Spain
  • +34 605 722 162