I first went to Kenya in 2007, for a project at work. I had never been to Africa, and didn’t know what to expect, but from the very beginning, I felt at home. From 2007 – 2008, I was based in Nairobi, Kenya and had the fortunate opportunity to also spend time in South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Determined to make it back, in 2011 I led a team of volunteers from Mississippi and Chicago on a ten-day Habitat for Humanity Build in Kenya. We worked with Kenyans who had been displaced after violence erupted following the 2007 elections, and who had been living in tented camps for close to 5 years. This experience brought together multiple parts of my life, and solidified in me a sense of passion and purpose in Africa.
Since that time, I have led three more Habitat for Humanity Builds in Kenya, and have participated in one in Ghana. I have also financially and in various volunteer capacities, contributed to several other organizations in Africa, including Amref Health Africa and Upendo Village.
Towards the end of 2012, I felt God calling me to on an even bigger purpose, and started the process of seeking to adopt two children from Kenya. While this process has unfortunately stalled due to an indefinite moratorium on foreign adoptions from Kenya, my love and commitment to this part of the world has just continued to grow.
Seeking to formalize this commitment, I embarked on starting To Africa with Love. Aimed at providing a means to connect, care and contribute to the people of Kenya and beyond, it is my hope that To Africa with Love provides a vehicle for those that may never visit Africa – or those that want to but aren’t sure yet where to start – a way to build connection and community. To raise awareness to the many challenges people from this part of the world face, and to also share their lessons of hope, faith and resiliency in the face of so much adversity.
From the beginning, I could feel God’s hand at work in bringing me to Kenya. I’m so grateful for where He’s brought me to today, and I can’t wait to see where He takes things from here!
- Karen Bychowski, Founder of To Africa with Love, NFP