My Furaha Camp story: An eye-opening experience worth remembering

I woke up feeling quite excited for the 2016 WYA Africa Furaha Camp. I’m an outdoorsy kind of girl, so sleeping in tents, doing fun outdoor activities such as hikes and games are some of the undertakings I was waiting on with bated breath.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve found such peace in appreciating things done outside of my monotonous life. The three-hour road trip, for instance, was so relaxing.

We stopped at View Point along Nairobi-Nakuru Highway, a spot commonly known for the luscious scenery of the Rift Valley, crisp fresh air and a beautiful spectacle of Maasai-inspired jewelry, bags, shawls and a variety of other items.  We set about taking pictures and shopping for souvenirs. There was lots of excitement and anticipation as to where we were headed and what the camping experience would be like.

The Eagles Point Campsite was nothing like I had imagined. It was the perfect expression of the sublime beauty of nature. Strategically positioned to give a grand view of Lake Elementaita, and had a strong sense of tranquillity which was enough assurance as to how life changing our stay there would be. We quickly got into the business of unloading our luggage and pitching our tents.

The camp experience was a lot of fun. Genuine friendships were forged, solidarity in all group activities done, and there was lots of learning as well.  Freedom and human dignity were some of the major topics discussed.  We visited Loving Hands and Safe House, a children’s orphanage located in Gilgil where we played and interacted with children of different ages, and of different backgrounds. Despite their saddening past life experiences, the children were full of life and hope for the future. Seeing children who have literally been dealt life’s worst hand, but have managed to overcome the difficult aftermath, inspires me to make the best of every situation I find myself in. I have great respect and appreciation as well for the selfless individuals who sacrifice their lives, to be of service to these children, and to show them that amazing things lie ahead of them. These are the individuals who are constantly assuring us that all is not lost, and there is hope for humanity after all.  These individuals are my true heroes.

The best part of the camp for me was my daily meditation sessions by the lake.  I was grateful to have these moments, outside of our set activities, to have a mental regrouping of sorts. Just to take in what life has been like so far, thoughts, fear, hopes, and dreams of what is to come. Also to ponder on what exactly it means to uphold human dignity in our every endeavor. 

We watched the movie ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ where the ending is connoted by the paraphrased saying that hatred is taught to human beings, and that love comes more easily to us. Knowledge of this fact clearly defines our role in making the world a better place. This quote by Nelson Mandela is an expression of our responsibility to our fellow men.  As I contemplated by the lakeside, I thought to myself, what part do I play in all this?

Furaha Camp was more than hikes, games, and goat eating for me. Not to say that I did not enjoy these activities.  It was eye opening as well. I am now more aware of my duty to constantly advocate for affirmation of human dignity and to use the freedom I posses for a greater good.

Written by Cynthia Wangari, a 2016 WYA Africa Furaha Camp Counsellor from Kenya.