A documentary team member’s experience in Salabwek, Kenya

An excerpt from a letter sent to Sanam Quraishi by a member of the Columbia University Students of the World team, which immersed itself in the daily life of Salabwek’s residents while documenting the impact of SVQF’s community development project:

Throughout my time in Salabwek I felt truly privileged to have the role as team interviewer. It was through those interactions that the stunning and compelling evidence of your impact was conveyed. I fondly recall an interview we did with one of the Mamas, Jane, who beautifully stated that her hopes were that Salabwek would serve as a beacon for other communities–that they could pose as the model for future development in the area. This foresight and desire really hit home with myself and Esha (who was filming the bit)–here we were talking to a woman whose life and perspective had completely changed because of you! She–her fascinating life, captivating eyes — would indeed, in the film serve as that very beacon, that very model. We realized that what she wanted for the future, was what we were accomplishing right there in that moment, she, Salabwek, SVQF have indeed through this experience become the example of good, tangible, successful, and most importantly sustainable development. It was one of those moments that slaps you right in the face and you realize that somehow, two college girls from New York and a Mama from Kenya are in our unique ways indeed working towards the same goal.

A similar encounter happened when the very same day I sat down for an interview with Beverly. Before coming to work for Free The Children she had practiced medicine in a hospital. When I asked her why she made that transition she explained, “I was tired of living in a country where people were becoming gravely ill and dying from entirely preventable causes” (paraphrasing).  My mind immediately flashed back to you stating nearly the exact same words as reasoning for the inception of SVQF. It was truly amazing to be there, speaking with Bev about the importance of community health, and to recognize that the person on the ground and the Foundation’s president are inspired and motivated by the exact same thing!

Having these conversations where we witnessed the cyclicality of our efforts truly augmented how important the work we were doing felt. Everyone was on the same page, without prompt; we had all the same goals–and the ability and opportunity to convey these wonderful causes has been such an honor.

I saw that one person–one blessed, innovative person — can have such an enormous effect on an entire community’s lives. I am still taken by that, by you and all you have and continue to accomplish, and I thank you so so very much, more than words could ever express, for allowing us to share in a morsel of that work with you.

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