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Everlasting Imprints: The Experience That Lives On

He who is blessed is not disturbed

By Stephen LeglerPublished 26 days ago 6 min read
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Kenya by Stephen M. Legler

More Than A Vacation

Vacations are wonderful. It is a time to get away from the hustle and the daily stress and just relax with your family and friends. My family of eight just returned from Paradisus La Perla - Adults Only all-inclusive and I wouldn't change a thing. It was just what we all needed after my mother's passing a year ago. It was a time to bond, a time to reminisce on the good ole' days, and a time to relax and reflect.

Reading Book Thief in the pool at Paradisus La Perla - Adults Only by Stephen M. Legler

Business trips to new states or new countries can exhilarate as it gives you an opportunity to experience different people and different places. For five years, I was on the road about 75% of the time covering 21 states. Sometimes the travel was hard being away from family for so long, but I enjoyed much of the country that most people don't get to see. One of the more difficult things to do when away from home is to ensure that you keep up your routines, such as exercising. When possible, I would find a local park and put in my miles.

Walking after work session away from home in Kansas City by Stephen M. Legler

But what if you were given the opportunity to go on a trip that offers purpose, meaning, and fulfillment? An opportunity to grow, to learn, and to share? What sort of impression, a snapshot in time, would this leave on your life?

My company gave me that opportunity when they accepted my application to become a mentor and facilitate a skills transfer initiative for our office in Kenya. I had the privilege of flying to Nairobi, Kenya and stay in the country for two weeks. In my spare time, I went on full tourist and discovery mode.

Gentle Giants

One of the first places I visited was the Giraffe Center, which is part of the Giraffe Manor. Its primary purpose is to educate Kenyan school children on their country's wildlife and "to give local and international visitors an opportunity to come in close contact with the world's tallest species, the giraffe" (AFEW (K) Ltd. – Giraffe Centre, 2019).

Giraffe Park by Stephen M. Legler

Sacrificial Love

Next on my itinerary was a visit to David Sheldrick Wildlife Trusts's Orphans' Project—Elephant Orphanage for short. This was a very sobering visit. I absolutely loved the majestic beauty of these animals. Watching the elephants being fed and splashing around in the mud was a beautiful experience.

But I couldn't help to have a broken heart that this place has to exist. Most of the older elephants are there because of the evils of poaching. Many had fallen into a large pit with spikes, have broken or amputated legs, and they need the love and care from their human caretakers. The baby elephants are there because poachers potentially killed or harmed their mothers, leaving them alone.

While the elephants are in the orphanage, they undergo two phases. The first phase lasts until the elephants are about three years old. Each elephant has an assigned caretaker that stays with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The caretaker never leaves the elephant's side. They even sleep with their elephant.

Once it is agreed upon that the baby elephant is doing well, then they move to the second phase. This phase lasts about five years with the goal of getting the elephant reintroduced into the wild and paired with a group of other elephants to become family.

The Sheldrick Wildlife mission is simple: to protect Africa's wildlife and to preserve habitats for the future of all wild species.

If you have the heart to help, you can donate funds, or adopt an elephant for $50 a year (1 year minimum up to 10 years).

Elephant Orphanage by Stephen M. Legler

Empowering Women

Another quick stop was a visit to Kazuri LTD. This is a small bead factory that employs single moms to hand make ceramic beads from clay that are then sold in their store and shipped around the world. Lady Susan Wood was the founder of Kazuri with a mission to create "employment opportunities and uplift the lives of these resilient women" (The Kazuri Journey, n.d.).

Kazuri LTD by Stephen M. Legler

Hard Choices

During my second Monday in Kenya, I woke up at 4:00a to meet my hotel driver to visit the Nairobi National Park when it opened (I didn't have to be at work that day until 1p for a customer visit).

Because it was early, and the weather was reasonably cool, there were two beautiful lions resting in the middle of the road. They weren't in any rush to find the shade of a bush, and they allowed us to greet them. For the next five hours, I saw a multitude of animals, including giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, and more lions (one doing a rather loud vocal call).

Lions in the road at Nairobi National Park by Stephen M. Legler

When it was time to head back to the front of the park to leave, I couldn't help but think, "How do people go to work every day when they have a living zoo in their backyard?" Granted, it wasn't a petting zoo.

We made one more stop before we departed the park. It was the monument and ivory burning pit. The government on direction from the President of Kenya burned 12 tons of ivory on July 18, 1989 as a symbol that the poaching needs to stop.

Ivory sells for about $150 - $200 per ounce on the black market. By confiscating and burning the 12 tons of ivory, Kenya gave up nearly $75 million USD (9.7 billion Kenyan Shillings, May 2024).

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) implemented a worldwide ban on the trade of ivory in 1989.

In 1979, there were 1.5 million African Elephants. In the 10 years leading up to the CITES worldwide ban, 1 million elephants had died and were on the verge of being extinct (Eia, 1989), primarily because of poaching. Today, Ritchie and Roser (2024) estimate there are approximately 450,000 African Elephants, which represent both the African forest elephant (classified as critically endangered) and the African savanna elephant (classified as endangered).

Ivory Burn by Stephen M. Legler

A Walk in My Customer's Shoes

One of my most favorite experiences, and the whole reason I was in Kenya, was to meet with our customers. On this day, I visited Karirana—The Home of Eden Tea. I had a most gracious host that truly allowed me to put on their shoes for the afternoon.

My host walked me to the fields where I picked a few leaves and had a lesson on what makes it a quality leaf comparing it with the traits that make up a bad leaf. I experienced the gathering of the leaves, getting them to the plant, the sorting, and the whole processing, which includes withering, cutting, fermenting, drying, packing and quality control.

At the end of the experience, I was an honorary quality taste tester. Well, I got to taste the tea directly from processing. I'm not skilled enough to be a true taste tester that could meet Karirana's standards.

Karirana Estates by Stephen M. Legler

A Warm Embrace and a Treasured Send Off

If there is one picture, one snapshot in time, that represents the best this trip afforded, it is the picture with my Kenyan colleagues. I loved everything I experienced about Kenya, especially all the sites, the history, the land, the beauty, the animals, and the wonders. But it was the people that will always leave a lasting impression.

In the United States, the black population represents a little over 12 percent of the total population. Race, animosity, and tension constantly fill the headlines.

In Kenya, the black population is approximately 99 percent. As the sole white guy in this photo, my Kenyan colleagues embraced me and ensured I always felt safe, welcomed, and loved during my entire two weeks. There was no discussion about race. We were all just people sharing our dreams, our experiences, and stories of our families and friends. I spent a lot of time with many of them visiting customers, eating lunch, going to dinner, and I even went off the beaten path to a local bar for some drinks and local music.

Final Evening Dinner by Stephen M. Legler

In Kenya, there is a Swahili saying, "Mwenye radhi hasumbuki" which translates to, "He who is blessed is not disturbed." It suggests that a person who enjoys good friendships and is content with their relationships will not be easily troubled by life’s challenges.

It was a true blessing to have had such wonderful experiences, and colleagues that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Thank You

If you find this piece interesting or helpful, please consider leaving a heart, a comment, or even a tip. Your support means a lot to me as a hobbyist writer. Plus, it helps with the algorithms.

References

AFEW (K) Ltd. – Giraffe Centre. (2019, January 18). About the Giraffe Centre - African Fund for Endangered Wildlife - Giraffe Centre. African Fund for Endangered Wildlife - Giraffe Centre. https://www.giraffecentre.org/about-us/

Eia. (1989, September 1). A system of extinction: The African Elephant Disaster. A System of Extinction: The African Elephant Disaster - EIA. https://eia-international.org/report/a-system-of-extinction-the-african-elephant-disaster/

Ritchie, H., & Roser, M. (2024, March 9). The state of the world’s elephant populations. Our World in Data. https://ourworldindata.org/elephant-populations

The Kazuri Journey. (n.d.). Kazuri. Retrieved May 17, 2024, from https://kazuri.co.ke/pages/about-us

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About the Creator

Stephen Legler

Aspiring author writing first fiction book. I'm passionate to discuss personal finance, religion, tech & occasionally politics. I enjoy reading other people's work & getting to know folks. I play an excellent extrovert. Happy to meet you!

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