By Angela Flear, A member of the SkillCorps Kenya October 2017 team
Five years ago, my life changed for the better when I was given the opportunity to move to France and teach a little boy with autism. The opportunity came about when an American family was relocated for the father’s job to Lyon, France. They had found a school for their two daughters at a bilingual school but struggled to find a school that would provide an appropriate education for their son with autism. They asked would I want to relocate to France and teach their son? My answer- ABSOLUTELY!
As I asked more and more questions about the options they were given for their son, the mother explained that there was no option. ABA services for children with Autism weren’t available. The realization that this country with a well-established educational system was so far behind in the times with special education services shocked me. My passion for working with children with autism soon became a determination to make an impact on a global level.
I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in ABA at Drexel University with the hope that when I finished, I could make my dream a reality. As I was in class one day, sharing my dream to a fellow peer, she told me about the Global Autism Project. I don’t think she even finished her sentence before I had typed Global Autism Project into my browser. I had been searching for opportunities to go abroad and work with children with autism but my search came up empty. My keywords in my browser hadn’t found its way to this organization. A few “volunteer” jobs were mentioned but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted to make sustainable change.
After reading about Molly and what her mission is, well let’s just say elated is an understatement. I immediately sent my resume, interviewed, and prayed that I would be accepted to this amazing organization. As soon as I received my acceptance letter, it wasn’t a matter of whether I would accept this opportunity but rather how am I going to make this happen.
With the love and support of friends and family, I’ve made it here to Kaizora in Nairobi, Kenya. When I walked into the center, the first thing I noticed was their sign that stated their vision: We envision a society in which differently-abled individuals are empowered to live wholesome and independent lives with the support of a dedicated, skilled and passionate community. As I met the staff, it was very apparent that they were living this mission in their work with the students.
As this first week has come to an end, I look back to realize the changes this week weren’t only at the center but also a change in me. This trip has been the pathway to self-reflection and professional & personal growth.
As I sit here and type, I think of the quote “Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.” My life has been changed by this opportunity and I know yours will to. If you are contemplating whether to join SkillCorps, think about how you want to define your life. Embrace the opportunity.