We received this story in response to our June Question of the Month: What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been? You can read more answers here—and if you didn’t share yours, it’s not too late to email us at [email protected].
By Ellen P., 10-time traveler from Waukegan, IL
The most beautiful place I have ever been was Nyumbani, Karen, Kenya. I worked there for 6 months taking care of HIV positive orphaned children. Why was it beautiful? The children, as all children are, were friendly and happy in spite of their illnesses. They were very welcoming to visitors and volunteers. Many of the children spent days not at all well and yet they were cheerful. When one of the children was sick, he received the support of all the children in the community. They would visit him and color pictures for him to cheer him up. The children really cared for each other and the staff and volunteers.
The house moms and all other employees were dedicated and loved the children. Many sacrificed their own home lives as they were required to work for a week at a time without going to their homes.
The volunteers and large donors from other countries worked very hard to see that these special children were as happy, as healthy, and as comfortable as they could be. Because of these donors, the children were able to receive antiretroviral medication, which seriously cut down on the death rate of those children. Because of those donors and the dedicated staff, top notch medical care was provided. There wasn't anything sadder than visiting the little cemetery on the property that had children as young as 6 months buried there.
I remember this beautiful 5-year old girl who came to Nyumbani. She was taken to Nyumbani because her extended family could no longer provide for her. The day following her arrival she was placed in a van and taken to the hospital for a chest x-ray, which was routine. But all I could think of was that this girl was being transferred from place to place. I asked the driver to talk with her about her feelings and he did. (I did not speak fluent Kiswahili).
There was a little boy who was placed on antiretroviral medication because his HIV was escalating, and then he developed anemia as a result of the medication. He received blood transfusions and the medication was discontinued. It became a vicious cycle and yet he was always cheerful.
Some of the children attended school outside the home. The young ones went to school on the grounds. Often they were taken on field trips to local sites and once the older kids were taken on a several day safari sponsored by a donor. Once a helicopter landed on the property, and the children really enjoyed seeing it.
Love is a beautiful thing.
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