Monday, June 16, 2008

A World Away

Our 18-year-old nephew, Mario, is in Kenya for a month this summer. Below is a Facebook post I just received from him. It is stunning to read about what he's seeing and doing at the orphanage he's visiting. Mario's an incredible guy -- he's from Bulgaria, lives in Chattanooga, very well traveled, and voracious about seeing the world -- and he's about to start his senior year in high school. He went on this trip to Africa on his own! We're so proud of him!

It has been absolutely amazing. I have so many things to do here. It is a new orphanage, so I have a ton of responsibilities. On my first day of field work, I found a kid in the very first home that I visited and decided that he should be taken to the orphanage because of the conditions that he was living in. The next day, I decided to go and get him tested for HIV and he turned out to be positive, which was horrible. I've been running around to doctors and decided to test every kid that is affiliated with the program, so I am organizing groups of them to come and get tested on Fridays. The guy who began the orphanage, Geoffrey, decided that I should give an HIV education class next week to everyone associated with the organization.

There are three parts: an orphanage, a sanitary program, and a sponsorship program. There are 14 kids at the orphanage and around 50 more that are sponsored or awaiting sponsorship. It really has been the most incredible trip I've ever taken, and I wish I could stay for longer. I am definitely coming back. I've also met a ton of really awesome people that I will keep in touch with. I haven't really gotten around to traveling around Kenya but I will go to the beach and to visit the Massai Mara national park. Next year I am going to come back, hopefully with some friends from school, just travel around East Africa. It is like another world over here...

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