You are not expecting me to tell you that I finally made it to Balloon! Yes I did and that’s why you are reading this!
When I was a kid, a young Kaberia I used to cry for balloons to play with would inflate them and would like to see them expand and burst out; no event ever missed the good decorations of balloons.
When I grew up, I encountered Balloon!!, well, this is not balloon the toy but balloon the life transforming organization; it decorates people’s lives, it expands people minds and thinking and just like the way the balloon toy is conspicuous, the sister Balloon Kenya makes you stand out among many. Entrepreneurs of balloon stand out to be the models and above all, volunteers stand out in their jobs and after school.
Playing my tape forward, I was just in my Facebook account reading a political blog when I saw a link to Balloon Kenya application, as usual the word ‘application’ is always exciting to any Kenyan with a CV, I researched about Balloon and saw it was the type of organization I had been looking for. Equipped with free internet and office computer I immediately made my application and as I pressed ‘submit ‘ I also made a way of cross to escort the application forms.
Days moved and I received an email alert for interviews, equipped with my research and my suit and tie I left Nairobi for Nakuru ready to face the panel, I received the SURPRISE of my life! Balloon Kenya accommodated me in a guest house and with my meals paid for!!! As I lay in guest house bed waiting for interview I was wondering if they would accommodate us in Burj Khalifa Dubai when we finally get selected, this piece is just coming, be patient.
The interview was so well and what surprised me again was the simplicity and humility of the Project Manager who was later introduced as Mr. Gibson, sorry he did not use the prefix ‘Mr.’ but just said Gibson! Very funny, simple and humble, but focused and visionary as a leader. I liked everything from the start. Interview was the duration of surprises, after interview then came the big shocker of being given fare back. I was so surprised and had to look at the Google map to confirm that I was in Kenya!
You are not expecting me to tell you that I finally made it to Balloon! Yes I did and that’s why you are reading this! It was great meeting other volunteers in Imani guest house and easily socialized as if we had been friends before, meeting volunteers from UK was so exciting though at first the only English words I digested from them was ‘Hi’, ‘Okay” “Pizza” “milk shake’ and ‘cool’. I forced my merunglish (English from Meru) until our conversation had a flow. The training was so practical and notably our humble, simple trainer Josh kept us active, dressed in simple jeans and T-shirt and being the Balloon CEO I felt lost in a suit and tie being a volunteer!! This reminded me of Mark Zuckerberg the Facebook CEO. I can’t close the chapter of imani guest house without mentioning the food, the buffet was so sumptuous such that one volunteer by the name Samuel swore to be a permanent balloon volunteer, I looked back and whispered to him, “your dream is valid”. We were excited and volunteers would mix anything on the table; fruit juice and milk, popcorns and flakes and the process was dubbed as ochienging which was coined from the expert Ochieng wanga the mixer.
Leaving Imani to host homes was a mixture of fear and opportunities, being the fact that I rarely spend in people’s home. I met a very good host mum who was so caring and I felt being at home far from home. I felt like I was hosted in Burj Khalifa, Dubai! It was interesting to learn family virtues, responsibility and cultural practices. I thought it would have been a challenge since my UKV host partner Anna was a vegetarian with little interest in Ugali. My mum did the honorable thing of preparing meat and eggs for Anna and above all Ugali was the chorus of the Menu. I now have a second family in Nakuru, thanks to Balloon.
Interacting with entrepreneurs and volunteers was so good. Our simple and humble PC Sammy was more than a friend and a brother to us, we would always hear deep bass greeting, “CHEERS GUYS “and would all turn to a conversation. He really moved the wheels well. Cheers PC Sammy.
STIPEND was a very common word, Balloon really cared for us , for those who don’t know what it means I will explain: Something To Increase Productivity, Efficiency and Development (stipend). The cash was enough for our productivity, efficiency and development. Thanks to Balloon Kenya!
Balloon exposed us to the world of adventure, can’t forget Menengai crater, Lake Nakuru, Naivasha and Bondeni too. The MPR to Naivasha was more than Mid Program Review, it was full of fun. Thanks to Balloon for fu this experience which at first, only existed in my world of imaginations and in a list of wishes ‘when i grow up’.
Balloon has transformed us and helped in building skills. Those who had no skills in public speaking can now address a political rally in Tononoka. The PSLD (peer support…) really gave us a chance to PSLD (practice speaking, listening and Debating). Thanks to Balloon have seen the shy Gladys alias Nyaatha stand and talk to us for 10mins, I have seen the two left- legged Francis Chege play football though he scored his own goal. I have seen cool Zach stand in Mocaloca dance floor and dance salsa, I have seen the vegetarian Tom eat Nyama Choma, I have seen the talkative Vincent listening, I have seen the saving Samuel spend, I have seen the highly tempered Caleb calming down. This is all courtesy of Balloon!
Balloon has really transformed me, I will be a better entrepreneur than ever and I feel much confident to face the ballot come 2017 as I seek to transform my people the way I have seen Balloon transform them.
I will dearly miss every moment with Balloon, and I have no otherwise but to say BMC (Bye My Comrades)
Long live Balloon. As I rest my hands I wish to welcome Balloon in Meru County. Miraa entrepreneurs need you.
Kaberia, Kenyan Volunteer, ICS, Nakuru 2015