"It was a great cultural experience. We might not have seen the most extravagant things, but they were all sincere. They were real and had meaning, just like the people of Kenya and especially of Odienya. I am not going to remember this trip for the places I went or the things I saw, but for the people that I met." —GCN trip participant
GCN partners directly with the Luo people in Odienya, located in Southwestern Kenya, near Lake Victoria. The Luo people are the third largest tribal group in Kenya. The GCN team collaborates with a local committee of elders, which decide what projects are beneficial for their community. Together, the GCN team and the village people are building a much needed health center that will serve families in the vast rural area west of Odienya. From farmers who take a day off of from their work on their "shambas" or farms, to children who stop by after school, the community works side-by-side with GCN team members on the project. Along the way, they eat, laugh and talk together, sharing connections across the globe.
The GCN team leader meets team members at the Jomo Kenyaata International Airport (NRO) in Nairobi, Kenya. The team spends the first night in a modest Nairobi guesthouse. In the morning the group begins the scenic six-hour drive (in four-wheel drive vehicles) on paved roads northwest to Odienya, arriving in the late afternoon to meet their host community. Team members stay as guests of Tom Nyerere, a local committee member, in his guesthouse while in Odienya. At the end of the village stay, the team returns to Nairobi and spends another night at the same guesthouse. Some participants extend their travels before or after the GCN program to explore the wonders of Kenya.
A Day in Community
As each day begins in the Luo village, team members awake to the rising sun and the crowing roosters. The team gathers for a communal breakfast and conversation with Tom, who loves to share his perspective on current and historical events in Kenya as well as learn about his guests. Breakfast might include chai tea and fresh fruit, such as papaya, pineapples and bananas. After breakfast, the team walks through the village to begin work on the health clinic project with local volunteers. The team breaks for lunch and continues with some light work in the afternoon. After school is out, the sounds of children shouting and running fill the air.The children love to be a part of the work, and many stop by to help. When work winds down each day, team members might tour a school, visit the women’s handicraft cooperative or soapstone carvers, visit Lake Victoria, or stop by the Kenyan colonial revolution museum. The group later meets up again for dinner. Meals include locally sourced foods such as ugali, rice, beans, fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, beef, fish and chicken. After dinner, the team has reflection time with group discussion on the experience and the learning that is happening. Later, the team members have time to journal before bed and another day.
Program fees cover on-site accommodations (lodging and meals), in-country transportation, orientation materials, a donation to the project, emergency medical and evacuation insurance, and a team leader to manage logistics and facilitate your cultural immersion experience. Airfare to/from Nairobi and costs relating to activities outside of the village are an additional responsibility of the individual participant.