Kenya Love Storm
After a bumpy ride through Ngong listening to Celine Dion on the local radio station, I stepped out of the matatu before a modest building into a swarm of hugs and affection. I couldn’t have even dreamed of a better welcome from a group of strangers, let alone friends. A couple of months after saying goodbye to Kenya and to the women at Living Positive, I still find myself having incredible hug withdrawals and urges to remind everyone that they are awesome – a ritual that I try to keep current among the cold crowds of London.
My new Kenyan friends immediately broke out into song upon our arrival that first day, and naturally, we all danced together under the warm African sun. This became a daily occurrence that I craved. I was never much of a dancer, but moving alongside these incredible women was both empowering and freeing. We were no longer vulnerable; instead we were the most raw and honest versions of ourselves. We lost ourselves together and forgot about life beyond the grass where we stomped our feet.
The entire experience at Living Positive Kenya brought us closer to the women, but the dancing acted as a channel to connect us all on a deeper level. We inspired each other through our movements and as a result, our love towards one another multiplied as we proudly shouted the mantra: “I am awesome” and hugged our neighbours, reminding them they too, are awesome. The DancePlay in the afternoon is what we looked forward to everyday; we laughed, we moved, we let go of everything plaguing our lives. After an emotional day, dancing healed us, as a group, together.
One woman, Mary, was most affected by it. She began speaking and moving without reserve – it was as though she came out of her shell the instant we all danced together. She wore a permanent smile, something that was uncommon on her face before we arrived. The rest of her group noticed a positive shift in her movements and happiness levels shortly after our first day with the women. She spoke to us, she was affectionate with us, and we showered her with support.
I had heard about the women at Living Positive Kenya for a couple years before jumping on my flight to Nairobi. I partly knew what to expect, but the experience exceeded my expectations. It was a reality check, an important life lesson, and an opportunity to dance alongside lifelong friends. We all fell in love with each other despite our differences and our borders, because in the end, such things are extraneous.
Silence enveloped as we pulled away from these resilient and admirable women; they opened our hearts and loved us unconditionally. I’ll never forget that final ride where my mind was afflicted with uncertainty for our next reunion and the fiercest desire to run back to the music and the dance.