It’s been nearly six months since Tyler Arachtingi spent a chunk of his summer in Kenya. But memories of his time there still pop up daily.
He carries images of the trip with him: the smiling faces of the Kenyan children, the joy on their faces when they discovered the swing set he’d built.
“They had never seen one before, let alone never been pushed on one,” Arachtingi says. “They had to ask someone what it was.”
Arachtingi, a senior at Free State High School, traveled to a Kenyan village called Maai Mahiu as a volunteer for Comfort the Children International. The nonprofit organization gives medical and educational support to third-world countries.
Arachtingi’s mother, Barrie Arachtingi, also is a volunteer and persuaded him to go.
And he’s glad she did. While there, he built a swing set, helped build a school and played games with the children. He says something about their attitudes affected him. They didn’t seem to have much, but they all seemed so happy. Everyone smiled and said hi.
“It was amazing to see the kindness and generosity from all of the people there,” he says. “They didn’t even know you but acted like they loved you. I realized you don’t have to walk past someone in silence; You can say hello to someone you don’t even know.”
Arachtingi was 17 when he went to Kenya — he’s 18 now. And he marks the trip as one of the most meaningful events of his life.
It was so significant he’s redesigned his future to include another trip — he’s planning to spend his junior and senior year of college in Kenya. It’s a journey he’s thoroughly looking forward to.
“It’s definitely something I think about every single day,” he says. “I can’t wait to go back.”