When I first made the decision to go on this trip, I had already felt in my heart that it would be a gigantic milestone in both my own life and in my spiritual journey towards my greater understanding of what God intends to show and teach me and what He wants for me to do. I had a bare minimum understanding of the conditions of the country I would be visiting. Even though I knew that there would be apparent poverty and sickness, the impact of actually seeing it all and being among it all was beyond anything I could have ever expected, and in that instant, those people touched me and my heart tore for them.
The extreme transition from the well-kept boulevards, the buildings and houses and cars and ever-advancing technology of the Western world to the rocky dirt roads, the stagnant swampy mosquito-filled waters, and the filthy, ramshackle, pest-infested mud and dung homes of rural Kenya made me realize exactly how wealthy and well off we really are compared to many parts of the world. We constantly take things for granted each and every day, whether we are aware of it or not, and it made me extremely guilty and ashamed of all the times I had grumbled or whined about how exhausted or how busy I was from school, work, and all the other aspects of the typical Western life when there were kids out there barely six years old who were out in fields driving sheep and cattle and taking care of a number of younger siblings and all the while they were fighting malaria and other tropical diseases and wishing they had just enough money to purchase a uniform so that they could go to school.
During my fourth day in Kenya as I was doing patient intakes, I met a 14-year-old boy named Frederick who was never able to go to school because his family was too poor to buy him a uniform for school. Later on, I got to know a 13-year old orphan from Bethlehem Home named Vivian who told me that her dream is to go to America to study to become a doctor so that she could help her people upon the plateau. I also had the privilege of going to a primary school with Stephanie Allen and a group of girls to teach the female students about HIV and AIDS.
These moments struck me so critically as I understood one of the most key aspects in our world: there are so many people out there yearning for a basic education while many of us in America squander it, striving only to make the bare minimum of requirements and wasting our potential just so that we could go out and find a decent job and live a decent life. And there is nothing wrong with that, but throughout the trip, God has showed me that we as the inhabitants of a richer country are privileged with the responsibility to fulfill the needs of less fortunate nations. The value of an education is priceless because it opens up a world of opportunity and is the foundation for solving many of the world’s problems. These experiences among many others inspired me so that when the chance came, I chose to co-sponsor a 5-year old orphan girl named Phoebe so that she could go to school. In the end, I left Kenya with an invaluable wealth of knowledge and experiences that would further fire my passion for future fostering and promoting of higher education, especially in youths.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
-Vivian Nguyen – Baylor ’14