Brown University women's basketball rising senior Melissa Heath, rising sophomores McKenna Dale and Dominique Leonidas, and assistant coach Sara Binkhorst are set to volunteer in Nairobi, Kenya from Friday, May 18 to Saturday, May 26 through the non-profit organization Play BOLD in partnership with Simba Educational Ministries.
During their time in Kenya, the group will assist with sport clinics, classroom education, and infrastructural projects. Over the course of their trip the Bears' student-athletes are set to write a series of blog posts for BrownBears.com.
The Rescue Center: Beyond the Surface
By Dominique Leonidas
On Wednesday we had the privilege of going to the rescue center, which is a program that gives kids from all around Kenya under the age of 17 a temporary home and provides them with rehabilitative services if necessary. Once the kids turn 17, the caretakers do their best to being their children back to their original home or set them up in the school system. We heard many things about it, but we still didn't really know what to expect.
Through our two days there, we learned that the kids at the rescue center come from many different heartbreaking backgrounds. Many kids were abused, drug addicts, homeless, mentally ill, etc. On our way there we had mentally and emotionally prepared ourselves to what was to come.
When we arrived at the rescue center we were greeted by the beautiful director who gave us a brief introduction of the kids and gave us a tour of the center. We met so many kids ranging from little infants to young adults. The kids were extremely welcoming and immediately wanted to interact and play with us. We did a number of things at the center such as bible study, relay races, soccer games, and we even got to dance.
Through all the smiles and fun games, we quickly learned that there is more to these kids than just their pretty smiles. We all were able to sit down and listen to the stories of these kids. I personally had the honor of hearing the stories of three brave little girls that overcame serious trauma. For me, it was hard to listen to these stories because I could not ever imagine going through anything like that. It was a beautiful thing to see them with so much joy after going through some of the things they experienced. It was humbling to watch and witness the pure love that they have.
Saying goodbye to them was definitely the hardest part because it was clear that they wanted someone to love on them more than anything. Going there definitely taught us that we are extremely blessed, and that through every hard, sad or tough thing that we go through, we can still have joy and smile through it all.
Play BOLD is a non-profit organization dedicated to working in partner with other non-profits to empower communities by mobilizing people and resources on international missions to the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Brown assistant coach Sara Binkhorst serves as the secretary on the organization's Board of Directors.