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  • Writer's picturePeter Demko

The SHGO Team Returns, post by Marissa Ruff

A photo of the SHGO team
From left to right, Dr. David Jordan, Andrew Graham, Isaac Adusu, and Marissa Ruff.

As I begin the long journey back to the United States, I reflect on the experience that I have had visiting Sierra Leone and Kenya. I struggle to find the words to describe the way that I feel after visiting these two beautiful countries for the last 10 days. In each place, I was met with open arms and warm and welcoming hearts, and as I left each place, I left a piece of my heart behind. This experience has left me humbled, happy and excited to return and do more work with the #SHGO team and the wonderful people of #SierraLeone and #Kenya. The days were long, and the nights were short with little sleep, but the experience of being in remote villages in Bo, sharing the good news and hope that we will be building schools and safe walking bridges and hearing and seeing the pure excitement and relief among those who live there at the thought of their children getting an education and building the future of their country, gave me such pride to know I have been able to be a part

of this future for these families.

Visiting the schools in both countries and experiencing and embracing the pure excitement of the children and their teach

ers was by far one of the standout moments in this trip. Sharing wide smiles, hugs and high fives with these children filled my heart with more joy than I can ever explain. While the pure love and excitement was evident, there was a sadness that I felt at the lack of school materials and resources that most of these schools have and throughout the week after our work for the day was completed, I found myself writing lists of items that these classrooms could use in my journal.

In addition to visiting schools, we visited Children’s Garden, an orphanage run by one of the most selfless men I have ever met, Moses, who is a father figure to everyone in his care. A haven for approximately 500 children of varying ages where they are given a home, an education, warm meals and most importantly a sense of family and love. I felt such a unique and special connection to this place and the children here and look forward to returning.

Finally, working with the Bandawa Clinic, Zion Ministries, Children’s Garden, Bethel School

and the Focus Dream Center, with Pastor Kano and Cynthia, Pastor Sam and Roman, Mary and Moses, as well as all of their staff, having the opportunity to meet Dr. Lanai from the ministry of health, Jamila from Goldenlife Kenya and Second Lady, her majesty Dorcas Rigathi, was nothing short of an inspiration to me to keep going, keep giving, and remain thankful and humble.

I will leave with acknowledgement of the wonderful people I had the pleasure of traveling with. Dr. Jordan, Peter Demko, Isaac Adusu and Andy Graham were some of the best travel partners that I could have had. From the laughs (and tears) we all shared, to the thoughtful discussions we had both on the work we were doing and the books that we read, have left me with such an immense amount of respect and camaraderie, and has left us with a bond that we will all forever cherish and one that I will never forget.

I am hopeful for the future for both Sierra Leone and Kenya. I am hopeful to return and continue to work among these great people again very soon!

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