In 2010 I made my first trip to Africa, specifically to climb the 5,896 meters of Mount Kilimanjaro, and as you know, “Africa gets you hooked”…, from that moment, you no longer have to think about how to return to the continent. Since 2003 I am a trustee of another NGO, which has no contact with Africa, so in 2014 and in a solidarity project in Peru, I decided to go to Africa and, through my niece Saleta, I got in touch with Álvaro Mesonero, Álvaro Pérez-Pla and Elena Gómez Fortún (members of KUBUKA), who at that time were laying the foundations of Más Por Ellos (now KUBUKA). I liked everything they told me and I went with my daughter and my sister, the youngest of my 14 siblings, to Tala, the town where Lisha Children’s Home (the KUBUKA shelter project in Kenya) is located.
My first contact with Lisha Children’s Home and Africa was not easy, we slept in a tent where the chickens are today, there were no children and our work began at sunrise. Basically I committed myself to, in the mornings, help in the garden and sand and paint all of the bunk beds that are now in Lisha, as during lunchtime I went to the camp that we organized for the 500 children in the local community, where I played with them and did some outdoor activities. I also gave them lunch, one day rice and another day beans.
Of course, if I keep something from that trip it is the joy of the volunteers and the harshness of Saint Francis, another project supported by KUBUKA where children with physical and intellectual disabilities live. Entering that place impacts you, as well as visiting Kibera, the slum the NGO works in Nairobi. Both places do not leave you indifferent and made me think a lot.
What did that first trip mean? There were basically three things, the first is to ratify my commitment to Kenya and, at that time, Más Por Ellos; the second, as a partner of my company, I decided that we would donate 2% of the sales and our time to social projects; and the third, as the president of a Foundation told me years later, our work in Africa should not be physical, but intellectual. As you will see, the three were of great significance and commitment. It was not a trip in vain but quite the opposite.
I returned to Kenya in 2015 and 2016 to visit all of the projects and every year I saw more changes, the first and most beautiful was in Lisha, there were already children who backed up the reason to create the project, and improvements were noticed, like the children’s houses were finished, THERE WAS EVEN LIGHT…!!!, which meant an important change for them and for the local community since in those years we went from complete darkness to start seeing houses with light and glass windows. A really big breakthrough was that the babies were no longer crying when they saw a “mzungu” as they began to get used to seeing white people that were going to collaborate with the community.
The KUBUKA projects were winning my heart so much that little by little we were committing funds from our company Intelect Search to their projects. We made bathrooms in Saint Francis which improved the hygiene and comfort of the 19 children living there, we cleaned the courtyard and toilets of the school Grace Humanitas in Kibera, we helped in the construction of new rooms for the volunteers of Lisha Children’s Home…, like this until we collaborated in a major project, the construction of the first phase of the KASIYA school near Livingstone in Zambia where KUBUKA also has several projects. In fact, during Christmas 2016 I decided to go and see the finished Kasiya school with one of my daughters, which meant a before and after in our life. And, in that fourth trip I decided two really important things: to focus on projects that our company can tackle 100% in terms of funding and to take steps to create a foundation. In this way, in May 2018 it was approved by the Ministry of Justice and we named it the IntelectSearch + Nakupenda Foundation. The second name was given by one of the volunteers who marked me most in Kenya, Mariona Navarro, and in Swahili it means “love God”, because when you live the KUBUKA projects, you see and notice God very close.
And so we come to 2017…After visiting and building a hospital in Uganda, I asked Álvaro Pérez-Pla, a good friend and very important person in my life as a CSR, again to return to Lisha Children’s Home in 2018. I went this summer with Mariona Navarro Font, her sister Ana, Sophia and her mother, and a brother of mine and we all stayed with the 27 children living in the children’s home. It has been a very special summer as there are children who I have seen being born and other whom I have seen growing and are already genuine people. KUBUKA has been the most important thing that has happened to them in their lives and their great opportunity to make Kenya a better country. From this last trip I return with three beautiful collaboration ideas to continue supporting the KUBUKA projects, which are mine too.
And, you know what? This year, as in 2016, I will go to Africa twice with KUBUKA, since this Christmas the second phase of the Kasiya school ends and in January 2019 more than 500 children will be able to go to school thanks to KUBUKA and our IntelectSearch + Nakupenda Foundation and I do not want to miss seeing the school being finished. My wife will come with me in this trip.
Anyway, since my first trip in 2014 and after 5 trips with KUBUKA I sincerely think that I am not the same person, why? Because I travel to Africa to return with my backpack full of projects to finance through my foundation, I am clear about the projects having to support health and children education, and I am very clear about going to Africa to stay committed to the children, because this country taught me how easy it is to contribute, you have a greater heart and a smaller bank account, but it is as important to collaborate economically as it is to offer yourself. Also, when you travel to Africa you are offering yourself and you become absolutely committed to the needs that you see, and I tell you something confidently that you will only know if you read this article to the end, I go to Africa out of pure selfishness, I have a hard time going, I am trapped by Africa…but you return happy, it is very difficult to explain, when you return it takes you several days to land in the so-called “first world”, and I am sure that I will go back because in Africa you see God behind the eyes of every child and I am not able to see him in this other world.
Do you dare to volunteer?