I realize that my role right now is as a youth of this world; I am an American in a comfortable place in life with opportunity beaming from my fingertips. So far, the sun has always shone through the window of my home and shelter, my stomach rarely growls with hunger pains, and my throat is never so dry that my voice isn't heard. In my possession are things that some people of the world will never get to hold or see. And, through all these blessings in life, I have been extremely fortunate to experience just the opposite in a place that is 5,000 miles away and still under the same set of stars. A place where clean water is a luxury, food to eat is a limited resource and safety is a constant struggle. I am a youth of this world where my role as a global citizen is unfolding each day.
Describing an experience in a slum in words is like trying to write down what a life-after-death experience is like on paper. My first glimpse of the Kwari Slums in Rongai, Kenya, twisted my stomach into a 1,000 knots. When I close my eyes tightly, I still vividly see the surroundings of lined up aluminum shacks, dirty and bumpy trails winding between row after row of lean-tos, and even the not-so-pleasant aroma of sewage pooling in the roads. When I'm in my comfortable bed and mountain of blankets at night, I remember visiting Alice and her family of four in a small shack no bigger than my own room. Her daughters Lydia and Rosa are somewhere out in the world without protection from the constant attack of evil. And like so many other families I was blessed to visit in the Kwari Slums, they all fall asleep to the sound of growling stomachs and scratchy dry throats. My most cherished moment from visiting this place, this most uncomfortable surrounding, was the moment when I learned the meaning of my life: to shine light into the dark places of the world that would otherwise never see it.
Why dogs make great teachers