|By Ruby Mutheke|
If I were to summarize my experience at the Kitui Community Outreach Programme mentoring camp using two words, I’d choose: informative and exhilarating. On the first day of camp however, I felt anything but excited. I was worried and anxious about how things would turn out. Being my first time at a camp, I really didn’t have any huge expectations. I knew no one from the team and it scared me that I would be stuck with them for an entire week. What if they didn’t like me? What if I did something wrong?
A typical day at camp would start at 7:00 am with Mass for those interested in joining in. Breakfast would then be served by 7:15 am and we would be required to be in the bus by 8:00 am or 8:30 am to begin our journey to the different schools. At the schools, we would get into our different groups and head out to the different classes for the mentorship sessions. The mentoring sessions ran from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and were divided into two sessions: in the morning we would discuss all matters academics, SMART goals, careers etc. and the afternoon session covered mental health, menstrual hygiene and relationships. After the sessions, we would have a feedback session with the schools’ principals then head back to Kitui Pastoral Centre, where we were residing for the week. Dinner would be served at 7:15 pm, after which, we would have enlightening and diverse conversations and exchange ideas.
My highlight of the mentoring camp has to be the visit to St. Michael’s School for the hearing impaired. Though I could not fully comprehend what was being said in sign language, I vehemently enjoyed the enthusiasm and love of the children. It made me think about how much we take for granted. They were not pitiful or sad, they were full of life and energy, showing off their sign language skills to whoever cared to look. I felt honoured and privileged when they gave me a name in sign language, having taught me how to spell my name in sign language.
Another thing that stood out for me was the Our Lady of Protection Museve Shrine. We made two visits to the shrine and had the privilege of meeting the Father-in-charge, Fr. Edward Mulwa, who gave us a tour of the newly completed shrine. I was in awe of the beautiful architecture of the Shrine, which was inspired by Noah’s ark. I enjoyed the amazing sunsets and cool breeze at the shrine. The environment was so serene and accommodating, making it much easier to connect with nature and with God in prayer.
The camp was a wholesome experience that gave me such nostalgia whenever I talked to the young girls. It reminded me of my days in high school and how naïve I was. Though I was a bit anxious at first about what I would tell them, I found myself enjoying their company and questions. It became so much easier to talk to them when I reminisced about my days in high school and what I wanted to hear then. I even started looking forward to the sessions and felt privileged to have been a part of the girls’ lives, even if just for a day.
The camp was a therapeutic experience for me as it helped me overcome some of the issues I was going through. I met beautiful souls who were so welcoming and intentional about friendship; I made a whole lot of friends. I am really grateful to the Community Service Centre team for always ensuring we were well taken care of and for making the camp worth the while.
Ruby Mutheke is a 4th year International Studies student.