My ten days at Embu

For the first time I decided to venture alone and to do it in Africa because I was looking for challenges and confirmations.

I wanted to challenge myself by going to a place that, like many others, I knew only within the commonplace taught by Western civilization: poverty, sun, low level of education, diseases which it is better not to think about. Well, all this is undeniably true, but inside of me I knew that I could find something else, as I indeed found out; as a matter of fact, sometimes when one hears about something one cares about, one doesn’t have to ask too many questions: just follow it, especially in the era when it takes just a click to venture anywhere.

“Lowering myself” to a relatively modest reality like that of Embu’s orphanage made me feel big and small together. Big, because after half a day that I was there, whether I wanted it or not, I felt involved in issues that in my life I never even debated, and it was enough for me just the desire to do something concrete to help to earn people’s smile. Walking down the street I realized how very little can improve a person’s life: to give a used t-shirt, to donate a coin, to light a Chinese lantern, to smile. These are the moments in which you end up feeling very small , because you can proof the old and good saying “There are other problems in life…”: this is really true, because when you do not have food and drink, you do not even get to worry about how fast your Internet connection goes. Nor did I think about it when I saw people on the street who probably had nothing except the bunch of bananas trying to sell under the scorching sun, or when I was playing with children who do not even have a mother, yet when you look at them they tell you “hakuna matata”, “there are no problems” and they smile.

I do not believe in the “Africa’s blues”, but coming back to the European reality was a bit like trying a shirt in a store, looking in the mirrow and saying “No, I can not take it, I’m not wearing this shirt, it’s not me”. A little ‘frivolous reality, a bit without a compass perhaps, I do not know … maybe I’m delirious.
Nevertheless, I will re-embrace them all because I will be back, so soon I will not even give them time to forget about me and I will thank them all more than this my first time.

Luciano Zapponi

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