We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofSebastian Lerner

While on a trip to Kenya with my family, we had the chance to visit an African village and school. The trip made me realize how lucky I am to have what I have in my home. When we arrived at the school,  it was just one little building, two rooms with falling-down walls. As soon as we arrived, all the kids came rushing out. They were smiling and seemed so happy to see people from outside their village.  Inside the school, there were only a few things in each room to use. They didn’t have whiteboards or computers or anything of that type. All they had was problems written up on a chalkboard in the front of the room. The teachers all looked like moms who were passing on information to these children that they have learned from other moms. All the kids were still thrilled about this because they loved having an education and learning new things. They were touching us and smiling and asking us our names. It made me super happy because I brought some joy into their lives.  We moved on to the village where the residents showed us some traditional dances and their way of life. They took us into one of the huts, made out of sticks, straw, and goat poop. When they were showing us their houses, they told us that it was the way that they have been building houses forever. The huts were so small they barely fit my whole family inside them, and I could barely kneel up. The houses were nearly empty. They didn’t have refrigerators, food, couches, television, or any of that stuff that is normal to see in a house in America. After this, we went back outside and we talked with some of the other little kids that were there.  The village kids don’t have enough money to go to school, so they spend their days herding the goats. Goats are everything to these people. It’s how they make money, their food, everything in their life revolves around these goats. The kids go out all day in the hot, hundred degree weather, herding the goats around to make sure they get food, stay healthy, keep out of trouble and don’t get eaten by lions. For a little while, we helped herd the goats with the kids. We helped carry them around, caring for them, and we fed some of them.  A week later, we got on a flight to come home. At our house, I kind of flashed back to the little huts that the people were living in and could barely stand in. I walked into my house with its air conditioning, its refrigerator full of nice food, its filtered water. I looked around at the couches, televisions, and all things that these people have never had and may have never seen before. I thought that it was incredible how they didn’t want to be like other people with all of the technology and new improvements they just wanted to follow their tribe’s tradition. Seeing people live happily with so little taught me that you don’t have to have a lot of toys and a big house and all that stuff to be happy. Those kids were happy with just a few simple toys, working all day and taking care of the goats. Seeing the super small, simple houses that they live in taught me a very strong message that I will remember for the rest of my life: you just have to be happy with what you have and make the best out of your situation. 

© Sebastian Lerner. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.