A Grateful Heart in Kenya

A few months after my son passed away, I had a friend approach me who was going on a two-week humanitarian expedition to Kenya, Africa. She told me that there was one more seat available and asked if I would like to go. My first thoughts were of all the reasons I could not go but then I remembered my son’s wish to help people. I thought by going and serving the people in Kenya, that in a small way I would be helping to honor his last wish. So, with a few of his guitar picks in my pocket I traveled to Africa.

While there, I planted fruit trees and helped teach families of the Maasai Tribe to plant and care for garden towers, taught the children how to dance the hokey pokey, spoke and sang to a group of students who were preparing for their advancement test and much more.

My favorite day in Africa was spent with the girls of the House of Hope Rescue Center. Some of the girls have been forced to undergo the unspeakable horrors of FGM-Female Genital Mutilation, being sold for cattle, and early arranged marriages. All tribal rituals that are illegal but still practiced today. Thanks to the protection of the center, many were able to escape these devastating traditions. I was shocked and moved by their stories of survival and courage.

I was asked to share my story with them and to sing my song, “I Think You’re Brave.” During the final chorus, I heard a few of the girls singing along with me. When I finished, I was asked if I could sing the song again and let the girls join me. I can’t even tell you how touching it was to sing this song with these brave young ladies!

The final song I sang to them was one that I co-wrote with award winning composer, Greg Hansen called, “More Alike than Different.” As I looked into the eyes of these beautiful girls, the lyrics rang true, “We all want a life of joy, love and peace.”

I went to Kenya thinking I was there to help them, but in actuality, they helped me. I had always considered myself to be a very grateful person but after seeing how these lovely people live, I came home with a changed heart. I am now grateful every day for clean water that comes out of a tap, showers, electricity, refrigeration, heating, air conditioning, a washer and dryer, a soft bed to sleep on, having plenty of food and for feeling safe where I live. We are all so very blessed!