Bonyo asked me how volunteering for Bonyo’s Kenya Mission has changed my life.
This is the story of my life’s path to BKM.
When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with Africa in general and I knew that one day Africa I would play a large part in my life. For my tenth birthday, I prayed to God that instead of getting gifts for my birthday, I just wanted World Peace. I went to bed the night before my birthday with full faith that God would make my prayer come true the next day. How could he not answer such a birthday prayer? The next morning I arose and I ran straight to the kitchen to grab the newspaper, just knowing that World Peace would be on the front page! Nevertheless, it was not! I knew that it had to be so, because it was my birthday and because God would not let me down on my birthday! I went to my bedroom to turn on the radio and found the news channel, but they were not talking about the Amazing Miracle of Overnight World Peace either! How strange I thought it was that a miracle had occurred, yet nobody was talking about it!
I then realized that perhaps God was keeping it as a surprise for later in the day because my mom was throwing a party for me. I waited as patiently as a ten-year-old can for a gift so extravagant. The guests came and we had cake and they sang happy birthday to me, then it was finally time to open gifts – I was so excited to see how God was going to reveal World Peace to my entire family for my birthday!
As I completed opening gifts (which I had told God I would forego in trade for World Peace), I was getting more and more nervous. By the end of the party, what do you think was the most memorable thing I received? I got a stinking Barbie Doll, the exact polar-opposite of World Peace to my ten-year-old mind! No one could possibly understand why I was not happy and although I tried my best to be grateful and trusting that God had a better plan than the one I had come up with for my birthday, I had a difficult time dealing with the materialistic and selfish. behavior of my co-humans for the next thirty years of my life.
Fast forward and realize that I did not follow the path that led me to be a volunteer with the Peace Corps as I once dreamed of doing. Neither was I kidnapped by Gypsies any of the summers that they were rumored to have passed through my small farming town, much to my chagrin. Somehow, in spite of all of my opportunities to do otherwise, I ended up dropping out of college, getting married, having children, building a lovely house in the country, having a small farm upon which I rescued horses, raised beautiful children and was the neighborhood ‘Kool-Aid mom’, and a very active Boy Scout leader. I suppose in a small way I was able to justify that the children I raised and helped others to raise were a contribution toward a peaceful world, but they did not fulfill that need I still had that connected me to Africa.
Again though, the Universe had a larger knowledge of what my life should be like.
Once my kids were into their teen years, I worked full time at Summa, which is where I met Dr. Bonyo, and through that introduction, I learned how I was to become connected to Africa. I took my first trip in 2010 to the Mama Pilista Bonyo Memorial Health Clinic with Dr.Bonyo and Dr. Greenberg, and my dreams of Africa were finally realized!
Since 2010 I have been on the Board of Directors of Bonyo’s Kenya Mission, have sponsored my ‘Kenyan Son’, have travel back to Kenya several more times, and have invested in the completion of our BKM hostel, which I foresee as being part of my retirement plan.
All of the twists and turns that my life has taken with job changes, divorce, new friends, meeting people along my way, and the connections that I have made to bring people together to promote Bonyo's Kenya Mission, have all been important checkpoints along the path of developing World Peace and realizing that World Peace happens one day at a time, one connection at a time, one smiling child at a time, one project at a time, and that World Peace does not come in a box with a bow on it for a ten-year-olds birthday, but that a child who plays with her Barbie is one small part of the World Peace puzzle.
That ten-year-old girl, if given the opportunity, can grow up to be part of a world that allows children in poverty to realize that people all over this planet are rooting for them, are helping them to have a better education, are working diligently for them to have a better life, are developing ways for them to have a life not plagued by disease and poverty, are striving to help them have a life where they have a school that has paper and pencils, to assure that they have potential to go to college to someday be able to help their own community – their own village, so that they too can be a checkpoint in the path to World Peace, helping to develop a better world for other future children.
My role in that realization has been the fulfillment of my ten-year-old dream of World Peace, visualized through volunteering with Bonyo’s Kenya Mission.
~ Heidi ‘Achieng’ Weisel*
* Achieng being my given name on the day I first arrived in Kenya, which means “one who is born when the sun shines”; this is fitting because I was born in February in Northeast Ohio at 2:30 in the afternoon. Oddly enough it was sunny and 45F that day. My best memories of my first trip were being ‘welcomed home’ as I arrived in Kenya, and the overcrowded bus rides where a multitude of people were crammed into a seat built for two and everyone was loving and kind and laughing and nobody minded that everyone was touching up- against each other. It was such a diabolically different experience than one would ever have in America, and I loved every sweaty humanly smelly moment of it!