If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone
will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work. – Buddha
Q: What was your favorite part about Kenya?
A: Though I’d like to say it was holding the hands of ten children at once, watching women roll
beads from strips of old magazine paper, dancing to the beat of an African drum for two miles
along dusty roads, watching a cheetah hunt and an elephant bathe, eating sugar cane freshly
picked from the fields, riding on the back of a motorcycle through a glade of eucalyptus trees,
singing hokey-pokey at the top of my lungs, washing with a bucket, eating chapatti, or falling
asleep to the sweet sounds of the children’s choir hymns all hours of the night, there’s one thing
beyond it all that cannot escape me. Burned forever in my heart are the smiles.
Some say that happiness is the source of a smile. Others believe the smile the source of
happiness. It’s a chicken and egg phenomenon and regardless of its origin is inclusive of one
very important thing: joy. Though the walk to school is often five miles long and the chance of
rain a fairytale, the opportunity to attend school costly and the likelihood of graduating college
rare, the probability you’ll contract AIDS or malaria high and the chance you’ll be treated low, the
reality of hunger felt when you miss your only meal each day because you had to stay home and
work instead of going to school where you’re served a small cup of porridge, the ability to read
only known by some and the ability to write your own name known by fewer, there is one thing
that you can count on: the happiness felt from the smile of another.
We may not be able to give the $10,000 it costs to build a new school nor the $250 per student
it costs to attend high school each year, give rain nor fertile land, cure AIDS nor prevent
mosquitoes from spreading malaria, serve three full meals a day to the 925 million hungry nor
teach all of the illiterate world to read. What we can do instead is share. Share the joy of laughter,
the love of unity and the serenity of a smile.
I went to Kenya expecting to teach, and instead I was taught. My dear friends Moses from
Uganda, Moses of Kenya and Brother Jastus Suchi not only inspire me to be a better, kinder
person, but they motivate me to be a happier, more compassionate person. In their smiles are the
hope of their communities, the strength of their souls to carry on helping others, the wisdom to
know how, the humility to do so without gain, and the compassion to cultivate love and joy among
those whose path they cross along the way.
Though our friends may be many thousands of miles away, “The shortest distance between to
people is a smile.” – African proverb
Smile on everyone, smile on.
Grieve, GOA Team Leader