• Benjamin Watts

Family Day Reunites

Today was such a good day to be at the Imara House. From the moment the gate into the home opened, every waking second was filled with joy. Families of the mothers travelled from all around Kenya to see their daughters and grandchildren for the first time since COVID began. Not only does this mean it has been a very long 16 months since some of the girls saw their families, but it also means that for some of the families, they met their grandchildren for the first time. The courtyard was filled with reunited families and smiling faces all day.

Large Kenyan pans of food hit the stovetop bright and early as preparation for hosting an extended Imara family had the house and kitchen bustling from sunrise on. As the families arrived and gathered in the courtyard, a traditional greeting was performed that I was humbled to partake in. Traditionally in Kenya, when greeting an elder, you bow down your head to them and touch it to suffice as a greeting. Those of similar or higher age usually engage in the traditional handshake or COVID safe elbow bump. All of the moms and their children walked through a line of Imara family members bowing down to receive their greeting. When I walked through the line, I bowed down as well, seeing as I was much younger than the family members. I was very humbled to receive handshakes from all those in the line. Throughout the day a clear respect was held for the traditions of my culture, and those traditions of the Kenyan culture between the family members and I. It was one of the most unique experiences of my stay here so far. They respected me by engaging in the traditional American greeting. I respected them by participating in a few of the traditional dances that the girls and family members performed throughout the day.

As the program progressed, seeing the sheer joy in the eyes and smiles of Imara family members made me realize why I am here. In a Kenya where safety and security are not always surefire truths and assurances, Imara is a light. The family members seeing that they had sent their daughters to a place where they could gain valuable life skills, excel academically, and provide for themselves and their children clearly left them not only relieved, but joyous. The fact of the matter is that the avenues and life possibilities that Imara opens up can not be said the same for all of Kenya. It is experiences like today that allow me to see the true value and importance of Imara, and what we do here.

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