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6th January 2018

I am here at the airport waiting to get on the plane that will take me to the world I know. I am leaving behind many obstacles, tiredness, misery, but especially much happiness and smiles that fill my heart. Basically a Country that makes its mark.

I have met Mark, who is a little tornado and cannot keep clean for even five minutes – Agnes, who is so shy that she can’t look me in the eye, but has given me her bracelet as a gift – Idah, who always wants to dress up when she goes out and on the last day made me two drawings – Luka and Alex, who are inseparable and answer for each other – Moses, who seems like he wants to conquer the world with his smile – and finally Brian, whose big eyes have stolen my heart. I will miss them a lot, all of them.

During the last few days I also met Stephen, the new boy we’ve welcomed on board. He asked us for it, giving us a letter. And when a kid tells you that he’s an orphan and begs you to help him study, would you ever leave him alone?

And now I am here, waiting to see if we will be able to help Lucy too. She is a 7-year-old girl, her mom is HIV positive and they live on the streets. She’s very lively, we would like to help both of them, but I don’t know yet if we will make it. This is about choosing between desperate situations and even more desperate ones. Because in the end this is what you bump into, you would like to help them all, but you can’t and have to make a choice, even if this seems so cruel.

I am leaving behind a Country where much has been done, but there is even more to do. A Country that will never stop surprising you: when you order at the restaurant, they will never bring you what you ordered, if they think you have asked for too little food, they will always add something to your plate. A Country where a kid covered in dust approaches you to beg you for some food and when you ask him: “What do your parents do?”, he replies: “They drink beer”, as if this were normal. Where a motorbike carries a minimum of three people (and I have done it too, many times). A Country where it is the kids themselves who have to take their mattresses and blankets to their boarding school… and if the following year their things have disappeared, the headmaster doesn’t care if they have to sleep two students in one bed only with bedsheets (and we’re talking about night temperatures around 10°, in buildings made of stone or wood, not heated). A Country where being an orphan is commonplace and, if you can’t find anybody to support you, you’ll end up living on the street. A Country where a 15-year-old kid approaches you asking you to help him study and you have to tell him that you can’t because he’s never attended school and he’s too old to start now… but he is a kid and it breaks your heart to leave him alone with his fate, that is contained in that bottle full of glue that you see sticking out of his pocket. A Country where a child tells you simply that he can’t reply to the question: “Where are you?”, but for you it’s a bucket of cold water in your face. A Country where children in the streets look at you opening their eyes wide and, while yanking their mother’s arm, they shout: “Mom, mom, look there is a white girl!”

It’s been an amazing experience, despite all the difficulties and unexpected events. But these too have made it so special. Because you can never be prepared for such a journey.

I could go on writing for hours, but my flight is boarding and I know I’ll fall asleep immediately on the plane, full of tiredness and memories.

I would like to thank Fridah, the girl in Nanyuki that takes care of our kids, for caring so much about them and for having taken care of me too. And, of course, my special thanks goes to Fabrizio, for having made this trip possible and for having the perseverance to fight for these kids nobody cares about. So thank you for creating You.Re.P.

Elisabetta

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