Hearts changed, new purpose found

My husband Keith, daughter Reilly and I went with David to Kenya. I thought I understood poverty and those in need. I had this kind of vague idea of what an orphanage would be like but my question of "What do the kids need, etc?" were met with David's answer, "Just wait until we get there"  and now I know why!  They need EVERYTHING! Literally. We walked into a classroom with about 50 kids staring very curiously at us. Eyes wide, they shook our hand and we moved from child to child. My daughter's blonde hair must have been quite a shock for them.  They shyly took the new pencil from us, each clasping tightly on to it as if it were a priceless treasure. Then we pulled out the total ice breaker. BALLOONS!  A balloon for each child turned the classroom into mayhem, all of them running and laughing with pure joy. Now we were all friends, shy no more. Stickers were passed out and I looked over to my daughter, totally engulfed by a sea of kids, hands reaching in to get a sticker. Both of us a bit shocked by the gratitude and joy that such small gifts had brought. These children are kindergarten to second  grade age. Most go home each evening, home to a parent too poor to feed them, or if without parents, to a relative that is elderly and poor. The clothes they wore were possibly the only garments they had. Laundry can only be done in a bucket or river, so the clothing is soiled. The meal they receive each day at Mama Tina's also is possibly, their only one. Bowls in their laps, even the youngest don't spill a drop. Reilly became a rock star, all of them vying for her attention. She found herself with her arms full of small hands, each hoping to hold her hand. Kids piled on top of us with laughter as we took pictures and played games. They sang us songs. You could see the love of their teachers. Finally it was time to go. Hugs and more hugs from each smiling child was our goodbye. Both of us had tears, knowing we would be leaving them and going home. On the long flight home, my mind raced with thoughts of those kids and the scores of so many more across Kenya. Their poverty can leave you feeling that you can't do anything at all. Instead, we left thinking of all the opportunities we had to make a difference in these children's lives for generations to come. David told us that you can't save everyone, but we can save some, and so we will. That is our hope. That is our new challenge and mission.

 - Michelle Baskett