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 Trip Concludes: Reflections from Kenya
By Melissa Heath
Our trip to Kenya has quickly reached the end. Our last day with the children of St. Jacob's was by far our most memorable. We got to start the day with a home visit to a four-year-old boy, Gabriel, down the street from the school. One of Play BOLD's founders chose to sponsor Gabriel two years ago on her last trip to Kenya. It is quite remarkable to see how far this little boy has come in such a short time because of St. Jacob's. We then got to go back to the school and finish the day in the classroom with the kids and playing sports with them outside.
The mood quickly shifted as we headed into their cafeteria for the goodbye ceremony. We were again overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness in having prepared songs and dances, as well as individual Kenyan scarfs for all of our team. A mix of feelings hit everyone as we were sad to leave but hopeful that we would someday be back to see their smiling faces.
We spent the night flying back from Eldoret to Nairobi. Running on barely four hours of sleep we woke up the next morning to adventure through Nairobi. We started the day with an amazing safari tour, where we got to see hippos, buffalo, giraffes, and antelope in their natural habitat. Even though the lions were hiding from our bus, we left the safari and headed to a nearby elephant orphanage. We got to get up close and pet the baby elephants that they have rescued from the wild. Even with these two amazing pit stops my favorite stop was the Giraffe Park that we went to next. Getting to feed adult and baby giraffes that were standing five feet away from us was truly amazing.
From the first day we arrived in Kenya I think we all knew this was going to be an unforgettable trip. Every face we saw filled us with joy. Every place we went had its own unique story. And every person we met left a lasting mark on each and every one of us. We are truly blessed to have been given this opportunity to come and serve the people of Kenya. Our hope is to bring everything we learned and experienced from these amazing people back to our homes in America and continue to grow as people and hopefully have a lasting impact on the people who we are surrounded by. We want to thank every person who helped make this trip possible and hope that we will be able to come back and visit our new friends soon!
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.