So… where to begin. It feels like only yesterday that I started my role as COCO’s UK MEAL Officer, and yet, I have just had the most incredible experience spending two weeks in Kenya on a whirlwind tour of our Schools for Life, Sustainable Agriculture Training and Small Loans programmes.
As tomorrow is the International Day of Friendship, it felt right that I should take the opportunity to reflect on what makes our programmes so successful; friendships. These friendships come in all shapes and sizes, but remain at the core of everything we do, and are the driving force which promotes our common vision of a world in which every child everywhere has access to quality education. During our trip, Lucy and I were welcomed with open arms into communities I had only read about in monitoring reports and excel spreadsheets. We were invited into the homes of children who travel up to 15km every day to reach the schools we support in hopes of obtaining a brighter future through quality education.
We were welcomed into board meetings with trustees who have committed decades of their lives to supporting the dreams and missions of our partners, and have stayed with them through the ups and downs of food insecurity, ill-health and COVID-19.
We witnessed the strong friendships formed between the students, teachers, trainees, loan recipients and our partners which have created inclusive and supportive environments where individuals have worked to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.
And, we learnt a lot about each other as we undertook off-roading adventures in hopes of gaining just a glimpse of the realities of living and schooling in rural Kenya.
Yes, it was hard work, but what made the trip incredible was the people we met along the way. This was my first visit to Kenya, but I truly hope that it is not my last.