Sunday, July 8, 2012

You say Goodbye...

I say Hello. Hello Hello. ...

The VSO experience is a constant series of goodbyes and hellos. Every 4 months a new batch of volunteers arrive fresh off the plane. And consequently their arrival usually heralds the departure of other volunteers whose time in Kenya has come to an end.

Having been in Kenya 8 months I've made lots of new friends. And now, just as I'm getting to know them properly, they're up and leaving me. This month alone I'll be saying goodbye to my housemate Barbara, my friend Annie, and Helen and Dan (who have a very good blog here) And last month we lost Eddie and Allys. And before that I had to say goodbye to my housemate Sandy.

This is the sad part about VSO. You bond with people over shared successes and frustrations. You celebrate birthdays, Christmas, St Patrick's Day. You go on adventures. You see giraffes. And then they're gone.

On the flipside I do get to make new friends every 4 months. I've made sure to help out at the In-Country Training (ICT) for the 2 batches of VSO volunteers that have come after me (in March and most recently this weekend) in order to do so. I've helped to deliver presentations on what to expect as they begin this process. I've led town tours of Nairobi. I've doled out useful advice on how matatus work, how to charm postal officials so that don't charge import duty, where the cheapest fruit and veg are to be found. I've been friendly (I hope!). But making new friends can be exhausting, especially when you know that in a year's time they'll be gone, maybe even before that. And since my intention is to remain in Kenya for more than a year, if at all possible, I do wonder sometimes if it's worth it.

The answer is, 'of course it is Andrea!'. The VSO experience is just a compressed version of life, where friends are made and lost over time. I have met some incredible people in these past 8 months and I wouldn't have swopped the pints, and the parties, and the adventures for the world. And even if and when they do leave me sure 'we'll always have Kenya'. That is the line, isn't it?

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