Returning “Home” – Feeding the Soul, Part 2

Continued…
It wasn’t long after that trip in 2013 that Carrie and I decided we wanted to go back to Africa.  For Carrie, she wanted to meet the two children she sponsored and for me, I wanted to go back and continue to work with the community, work with the school and of course, see the children I sponsor as well.  So for the months that followed, Carrie and I planned our next trip to Africa.  We developed a slide show to show the school while we were there.  Upon our last visit there, the children asked us great questions about life in the states.  Being a photographer, I thought it would be great to answer those questions through photographs in the form of a slideshow put to music, so Carrie and I worked on this during our Africa 2015 planning.  There was no doubt…..Africa was in our blood and we had become one with Africa.  Africa has a way of doing that!
In March 2015, Carrie and traveled back to Africa, again staying at Mara West and working with AMS.  We showed our slide show to over 500 children at the school.  Carrie brought her laptop and we used an old sheet as our screen to project the slide show on.  The children loved it!  They asked lots of great questions about the images they say and the teachers really enjoyed it as well.  It was a hit!  While at the school, we danced with the children (which I always love!) and really connected with them, which fed our souls.  We got to know the principals better and really developed deeper friendships.
During one of our visits to the school, the principal introduced me to a young man who was supposed to begin secondary school (high school) but was not able to as his mother could not afford the school fees.  This boy was looking for a sponsor.  After speaking to this young man, I went right to work to find him a sponsor.  We had wifi at camp which enabled me to use social media and e-mail and I went right to work to find him a sponsor.  Within a day, I found him a sponsor and his school fees for the first year were paid.  Carrie and I went to the school and delivered the great news to the principal and the young man.  Needless to say, he was beyond thrilled.  Both Carrie and I also had many items that were given to us to donate to the school and the clinic.  So Carrie and I were sure to deliver those items as well (clothes, school supplies, eye glasses and over the counter meds).
Carrie was able to meet the two children she sponsored as well and this was an incredible moment for her. She made great connections with the two children….they loved her!  I could see Carrie growing in her love for Africa with each experience she had while on our trip.  During our time at the schools, we took lots of photographs.  We had a printer and photo paper (something we had brought with us and left at AMS for future use) that we used to print out photographs and hand them out when we went back to the school.  Everyone loved receiving photographs of themselves and it warmed our hearts seeing how happy they were.
During our time in Africa, we made time for several days of safari of course and while out and about, saw the big 5, spotted an incredible leopard perched in a tree and saw a mother cheetah and her four cubs and were even briefly charged by a group of not so happy elephants.  We were safe and all was great while on safari.
There is no doubt that over the years, we’ve made great friends, continued to be active in the community and continue to develop new relationships. When we visit, we do our best to make a difference where we can and do our part.  It’s always hard to say goodbye when we have to go home.  But for me, I have always known that once I made my first trip to Africa, I would know that it is truly there that is home for me.  Since the first day I stepped onto Africa soil, I never felt like the tourist, I never felt like I was the foreigner….I always felt like I was home.  It’s something I can’t quite explain, but I feel more connected to the earth and people of Africa than the place I was born (which is the states).  There is no doubt that I am meant to continue to travel to Africa and do more work here.  I am grateful to AMS for the opportunity to partner with them which allows me the ability to do what I love and to be able to give myself freely and openly to Africa and in doing so, hopefully making a difference along the way.  I have made great friends with AMS and the staff at Mara West.  They are like family to me and I appreciate each and every one of them for their guidance, support and for taking such good care of us when we are there.
It’s always hard to say goodbye, but I’d prefer to say “see you again soon”, because I know it won’t be long before I’m planing my next trip back home…..where I can see old friends, make new ones and continue to make a difference in any way I can.  I would also like to say that I’m proud of Carrie for her contributions and for getting so involved in this journey.  Africa has truly touched us both! We look forward to returning soon.
~Stephanie
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