Karibou=Welcome. The generosity and caring of the SHARE staff could not have been more welcoming and loving from the moment we landed in Kisumu. Ken is the finest driver I have ever seen. He would do great on the streets of NYC as he navigated the roads of Kenya. And Alphonse, Lucy and Cyprina could not have been more wonderful. We laughed and bounced our way from Kisimu to Mbita and all of the way to Orore, where Brother Andreas had a wonderful lunch awaiting us at the end of our trip.
While I expected our trip to be grueling, and it was, it was also the most fulfilling experience I have ever had. I have come back changed but I can’t exactly say how. The people in their openness and simplicity and positiveness changed me.
The training began with a quiet excitement as we all set about teaching and learning. The trainees were eager to learn, and so much more open than I had expected. Although I must admit I didn’t know quite what to expect. The morning session began with the most cognitive part of the grief training. The interest, questions and note-taking showed the interest that excites a teacher. While a bit reticent in the morning, by afternoon the participants were comfortable and humorous enough to tease us about small cultural language goofs. For example, I tend to call the children in the support groups that I work with, kids. Oops. Kids in Kenya are baby goats! Kenyans have boys and girls or “the students”. We laughed a lot as I corrected myself. The laughter brought us closer together especially as Eileen and I learned that we are quite funny when we teach together, which we do not generally do in our work at home.
Bereavement counselors Sharamin Kerr and Eileen Schmidt with one of the educators who participated in the 2012 training.
The graduations were sweet at the end of each training session. The certificates of completion of the training were happily received by the students as the certificates added to their professional credits and new knowledge base. We began to see consciousness change before our eyes as the trainees absorbed how powerful grief was in children, and in themselves. The meaning of the word bereaved means “to be robbed”. When we are robbed, we have anger. If a generation is robbed and they are not helped through their anger, they will carry that anger forward. If we teach them now, they will be able to change a country in their generation. We had two graduating classes with 15 trainees each made up of principals, teachers, clergy and community health workers. Imagine if we can do it again.
At the end of our trip we laughed and bounced our way from Mbita all of the way to the Orore (Our Lady of Orore Boarding School), where Brother Andreas had a wonderful lunch awaiting us at the end of our trip. Brother John who had been in our first training and heard that we were there invited us to stop at his school too. A child I met introduced himself as Kevin, He was 16 and said he would like to go to America. I told him to study hard and someday when he was a man, he would go to America.
Thank you all who made this trip possible and to the people of Kenya.
PS. I just received an email from Kenya and it’s raining there. I hope that it rains here. With
Sharami Kerr is the Healing Hearts Coordinator, United Hospice of Rockland (NY).