This story was told in a letter to one of my most generous donors, a very kind Mr. Paley.
"One of my favourite memories with our kids happened one weekend when most of the other volunteers were in town for the weekend off. My roommates and I stayed to be with our kids and we took them on a hike, led by our director, to climb that one pointy hill far in the distance. We trekked through flat, dusty fields for a couple of hours before finding ourselves at the base of a hill, steeper and barer than any hill I've ever met before in my life. There was no path up. There was nothing to walk on but dirt that would slip beneath your weight. So we climbed. On all fours. We pushed and we pulled each other up. We used small weeds as hand holds. The kids helped each other. Some were fast. Some were slow. Some were brave. Some were scared. But not one even thought of stopping. In my mind, I kept thinking how we would never be allowed to do this with kids in the U.S. because of child protection laws. But what value to an exercise like this. Teamwork. Perseverance. Trust. Exploration. Tenacity. We made it to the top eventually, not one man or child down. We had our lunch of PB and J while surveying the sprawling African landscape around us. Then we began to descend. And we discovered that if going up was hard, going down was twice as hard. We slid on our butts and hands. Everyone was scraped. Our calves had cramps form being so tense so that we wouldnt tumble forward on our faces. But we all made it down. And we headed home. This time with the pointy hill behind us and no landmark ahead of us to give us any direction. So we got lost. All our water was gone. We had been walking for over 5 hours now. I carried Farajah on my back. We held others hands and helped drag them along. I don't think I've ever been qualified before in my life to complain of thirst until that day with the hot sun of the African equator bearing down on me and my children, a 40 pound child on my back and the last drops of water on my tongue tasted 3 hours prior.
We found little dukas (soda shacks) along the way and bought the kids sodas to help quench their thirst. Finally we found our way back home 8 hours after we had left it. And you know what the kids did right when they got home? started playing soccer in the yard.
Yes, we might have electricity and running water in the U.S. But how many of us are actually living and experiencing the world we're in? Who of our kids know how to explore and play and suffer (even just a little)?
That's the story I've got for you tonight Robert. Thanks again for your interest and support. I taught some while I was there and I certainly hope it made a little difference. But more than anything, I learned. every day. from everyone and everything. I'm not the same and I hope I can bring a little bit of those kids and their world back here because, honestly, we all need it."