What I Learned While Painting the Buildings at Daylight

Before travelling to Daylight, I struggled to come up with skills that I could share with people there.  I’m not a musician and can neither sing or dance well or have ever taught children.  So I thought that I could at least help with some of the maintainence and upkeep of the buildings.

I raised around $1k from Lynnhurst members to help buy paint and supplies and decided that I would help that way.  Before going to Kenya, I was disappointed that I didn’t come up with something that would let me interact with the children more and help in the classrooms.

What I was surprised to find was the tight bonds that I would form with the men that I worked with painting the buildings. Gideon, the grounds keeper, and I went to Katali on my second day at Daylight and bought paint and brushes and dove into painting the concrete classrooms, teachers quarters and latrines over the next week.

There were four of us who painted together every day.  We would start each day by putting a spot of white paint on our left cheeks and declaring ourselves a tribe and then we would say a prayer together.  As we painted the buildings, we shared our stories, our history, our meals and some pictures under the African sun while listening to Ray Charles and Paul Simon blasting from my iPod into a remote speaker that I brought along.  Many children would stop by and watch us paint and listen to the music or sing songs for me as I showed them tricks and games.

I found that my connection with these men were just as important as working with the children.  I learned about the Pokot people of Kapenguria and their customs as well as their struggles, but I also learned about how dedicated all of the staff were to the children and to making Daylight a success.  I witnessed poor men with not enough money to even buy tea bags, laugh out loud, play kickball and share their small rations of food with hungry boys in the school.

I no longer felt like I was missing out from being involved in the “Skills Sharing” component of the trip.  I felt that I was contributing in a different but important way as well.  I learned about these men and their struggles to build this school together and how important it is for the community.  I can now share with others back in Minnesota about how important it is for us to support Daylight and become more involved with this community.

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