Clockwise from left, Leslie, Katie, Jonathan and Dylan Baltes take...

Clockwise from left, Leslie, Katie, Jonathan and Dylan Baltes take on Mount Kilimanjaro. Credit: Brian Baltes

Last summer, I went to several countries in Africa. We were able to climb part of Mount Kilimanjaro, but one of the most memorable parts of the trip was visiting a local school called Tumaini. The school was in a town called Mosquito Valley, which is the American translation from Swahili. Tumaini is a primary school that takes in orphans. They feed, clothe, educate and care for so many sweet little children. I was so excited to talk to them and learn from them. They asked questions and learned from me. We spoke about our hobbies and interests. While the kids were different from me, we had so much in common. It mesmerized me how, while very poor, they were so happy. Most of them did not even have shoes! The greatest pride and joy in the school was the children’s library. The library is the result of donations from the United States. The students cherished all the old, used and frayed books.

My family went to the school with several bags of luggage. We donated shoes, clothing and soccer balls. Before we left, we played soccer with them. I am thankful for all the things I have, but learned from these kids that being happy does not mean having so many things.