“I made strong tea because I know that is your best.” Judith remembered. She remembered that I always take strong tea when I meet the girls for tea at 10 am during their school days. Strong tea is hot Kenyan black tea with only water and sugar. Milk tea is more commonly served here, but Judith remembered that I take strong tea, and that is what she prepared when I visited her at home.
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Home has a way of finding us where ever we end up – if we are willing to receive it, to be open to it, to allow it to take a new form – home will find us. Home certainly found me these past two weeks over the WISER holiday.
By home I mean the comfort of sharing tea and stories, the freedom to make mistakes around people who are incredibly forgiving, and the commonality one finds in late night talks about politics and a mutual distaste for Donald Trump. Home found me and gave me an innocent and refreshing embrace when loneliness could have crept up on me.
Being invited and hosted in someone’s home is incredibly intimate. It is a gift. You are being welcomed into a space that has been created by family. Over WISER’s holiday I have been hosted, prayed over, and fed again and again in other families’ sacred spaces. The phrase every time my bare feet enter a living space is, “Karibu.” Welcome.
For the entire week first week of this holiday Teacher Nipher’s family hosted me. Teacher Nipher is an incredible agriculture and biology teacher at WISER. She is also the guidance and counselor teacher, so she has been helping me with my project. When she found out that I did not have plans for the holiday, she insisted that I come and stay with her family in Kisii, Kenya. I cannot express enough gratitude for the time I shared with her family in their village. My two homes collided when my sister and my mom were able to meet my host family over Skype. With many smiles and laughter, I had never felt more deeply connected to two places at once.
For the second week of the holiday I have been back at WISER. Each day I have been visiting two girls from Mirror House (Mirror is one of the Houses of Wisdom, which are small groups of about 15 girls that WISER is divided into.) Being with the girls at their homes has only deepened that way in which we are able to connect with each other. Up to this week, I had only been with them in the context of WISER, which is a controlled environment and community. Being with them and their families in their homes has given me a window into an entirely different dimension of their lives.
Each WISER girl I have visited has openly introduced me to the sacred space she calls home. Along with sharing a meal and greeting family members, we usually take a walk to see either her favorite spot or the part of Lake Victoria that is closest. The best talks have been on these walks. It has proven to be a completely honest and open platform for us to ask each other questions about the worlds in which we have grown up. We always find that despite the stark differences in our cultures, there are things that we both hold as true – the importance of friendship, family, community, and having faith in what the future holds. Those are the moments when home finds me.
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I let the girls who wanted to be in the blog pick their favorite photo from my visit.
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