As my two weeks as a health volunteer come to a close, I find myself leaving Shimoni with one Swahili phrase lodged in my head above all others: “karibu sana.” Whether we were weighing babies at the dispensary, handing out prescriptions at the pharmacy, or helping to construct a new youth wellness center, almost every one of my hundreds of interactions with locals included a few “karibu sana’s.”
|Health staff Kopa (Left), David (middle) and Christine (right) with children from Anziwani.|
Sometimes it was me who said it after being thanked, but most of the time it was the locals themselves bestowing countless “karibu sana’s” on me. For instance, after a 45-minute walk in the rain to nearby Anziwani as part of an outreach project, we were greeted by about 20 smiling mothers and children all exclaiming “karibu sana” and genuinely excited to see us.
|David (left) with staff Kopa assisting at a growth monitoring outreach|
Even when it wasn’t explicitly said, the people of Shimoni have conveyed how welcome we were with every smile, wave and firm handshake. Although I was handing out medicine and child growth-monitoring cards to people I had never met, their warm looks and friendliness showed their understanding that we were all united by a common goal: to improve children’s health in the area. There was no question that they all accepted us as honorary members of the community during our time here and appreciated our efforts, however small. For that, I say “asante sana, Shimoni”(thank you very much).
David joined us as a volunteer on the health project for two weeks. He lives in New York and currently works in marketing. He has a strong passion for public health and that’s why he came to Kenya with GVI.