Written By: Tegan Waite 18′
The summer of 2016 was one for the books. I had the opportunity of a lifetime and spent three-and-a-half weeks in Kenya. I spent time at the Rapha Community Center, an orphanage and school, in Nyahururu-which is located in the mid-central highlands of Kenya. My days were spent observing classes, tutoring students, playing with children, learning how to REALLY play “football”, reading to students, learning phrases and words in Kikuyu, learning their cultural songs and dances and embracing every moment. I fell to sleep each night to the sound of whispers, and giggles in the girls dorm, and I woke to the sweet sound of them singing as they prepared for their day. It changed my life, breathed new energy into my spirit, and gave me purpose. I have never met more positive, happy, spirited people, and the things that these children have lived through, seen, heard, and endured are so much worse than many of us could ever imagine. The way those children changed me, is more than I ever could have ever imagined, and I count the days until I get to see their bright smiley faces, hear their singing, and feel their little hands in mine again.
HEAL| Raising Our World, One Child at a Time was founded by a role model and friend Jennifer Musick Wright in 2007, while she was a college student. HEAL stands for Health, Education, Ample Nutrition, and Love. “Rapha” is HEAL in Hebrew. HEAL provides care, basic needs, education, and most importantly love for more than 45 children, and 80 students.
Here at Castleton I have founded a club that is in partnership with the Rapha Community Center. Last year I hosted a Shoe-give-a-thon to raise money to dig a well for clean water. Many Castleton students got involved and were able to hear Jennifer speak. Fall 2016, after the club was official, we partnered with the HEAL committee in Rutland and hosted the first annual “Kenya Run?” We had 52 runners and raised more than $2,200. Our next project will be the giving-challenge on “Giving Tuesday”. We are committed to raising awareness on campus and in the greater community. We are committed to advocacy and sharing our passion with others. We are able to help give these children the tools they need to be successful. What we do is not a handout, but rather a hand up. Being apart of something that is bigger than yourself changes you in the best way. Being apart of HEAL, being with the children, has changed and impacted me more that those children will ever be changed or impacted by me.
You have the opportunity to get involved right here in Castleton! If you are interested and would like more information please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to have you join the HEAL team. Make a difference, do what you are passionate about and know that every little bit counts.