By: Cindy Adrian
It took me a few years to finally apply to SkillCorps. A young, ambitious RBT I was working with applied and it hit me that I was waiting for a perfect moment that didn’t exist. When I told him he had inspired me to apply, he was a little confused, because he thought what would stop someone from doing something like this? I envied his attitude. In the United States, we are still figuring out how to provide individuals with special needs the services and education they deserve. I am lucky to have a career working with individuals with autism, dedicated guardians, and passionate colleagues. However, the ins and outs of insurance and special education can be disheartening. I needed a boost, to get out of my small world, and to see if I could share my experience as a clinician and bring back knowledge from another community.
I was selected to visit a center in Kenya, called Kaizora. The staff at Kaizora are unbelievable. I don’t have the words to describe how moving it is to see them interact with the students, the SkillCorps team, and with each other. The way they operate is nothing spectacular to them but as an outsider, it has been eye opening. At Kaizora, they do not have the same resources as the centers, agencies, and schools I have worked at, but they are not missing anything. They have exactly what they need and the proof is in the happiness of the students at the center. As a behavior analyst I can’t prove the students are happy but as a human being, I think it’s something I can’t deny.
I will leave Kenya, having taken more than I have given, by a lot. This is something I struggle with about my experience as a member of SkillCorps. For me it seems like an unfair trade to come and take from Kaizora and have only cornered individual staff to tell them how touched I am by their work. I hope that my presence has not put any doubt in the staff at Kaizora about the work that they are doing. They have inspired me to bring back a “less is more” approach to my work and my life.