Sunday, August 26, 2012


So many times I've wanted to write over the past couple of weeks since being back in Kenya, but its amazing how quickly business swamps you time and writing is too exhausting at the end of the day. Of course writing in the moment is always better, because yesterday's story is coloured by today's events. Hopefully you'll forgive the telling of these storeys from this perspective and I'll try and pull back the feelings and sights as vividly as I can.
The second week of Olympics was when I first got back to Kenya and there was a lot of excitement about running and how many medals Kenya should win. Otherwise many things were the same as when I left just a few months ago. While reflecting on this and watching Rudisha from Kenya win the gold in the 1600m after an afternoon of snorkelling, I remembered where I was when I first heard London had won the Olympic bid 7 years previously. I was sitting at a bus stop in Wolverhampton during the summer after finishing school and getting ready for 6th form college, excited by the possibilities of a new college and growing up. While thinking about London getting the Olympics in 2012, it felt like the Olympic committee were really playing a risky game planning so far ahead. By 2012 the UK might be in anarchy, or London be flooded or invaded by aliend. Where would I be in 2012? That was a scary thought. I'd have finished Uni, even though sitting at the bus stop I hadn't even gone to college yet. Would I be wearing a suit like dad? If you had told me I would be studying coral reefs in Kenya, I would have felt like I'd won the lottery. I'm sure that was the dream even back then.
I've had many moments like this since being back, of being struck by what a great situation I am in. However there have been a lot of nerves as well. Can I survive for 3 years so far away from my native country and culture? This isn't a gap year any more, this is a serious commitment to a place and a way of life, with restrictions as well as opportunities. How will I live without Cadbury's!?
Currently every day seems to confirm why I do belong here though. Last week the ASSETS camp happened. This is for kids being supported by Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Eco-Tourism Scheme (ASSETS) to come and do some environmental education and also experience things they may never have had the opportunity for before. For example, most of the kids, although living a maximum of 30 miles from the sea, have never been in it and so the one day we took them to the reef to experience that whole world. It was an immense privilege, I felt, to help someone gently into the water and have trust you completely as we guided them around in buoyancy rings. All the kids had a great time even if they only saw one or two fish when they were brave enough to put their heads in the water! On the way back we stopped on a shallow sand bar which was only waist deep to play in the water. It was a really idyllic scene of joy and beauty; wonderful young people playing and laughing, bathed in sunshine and warm turquoise waters and I had helped produce that scene. I really do have a role to play and skills to be used here. Often the detail and challenges can be stressful, but I need to remember why I'm here and what I'm good at. Too often I can let immediate circumstances drag me down and failure crush my spirit, without seeing the wider view of what is being achieved and how much joy there is on the way. Of course, living in tropical paradise is always a bonus which never wears off.