NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 21, 2013

Triton student brings clothes, compassion to Kenya

BYFIELD — Triton junior Rachel Williamson understands what a life of privilege she has lived on Plum Island for the past 16 years now that she’s been to the other side of the world.

“First I was surprised,” said Williamson who spent most of August working at an orphanage in the Kenyan town of Kakamega. “We landed in Nairobi which is much more industrial than I thought it would be. But during the drive, you would see villages every now and then. There is extreme poverty that you will never see here. It’s hard to see at first. But more so than that is how quickly you get acclimated to that.”

Williamson, who has ambitions of becoming a doctor in Third World countries one day, made the trip with the Maine-based non-profit organization, Friends of Kakamega, raising over $3,000 toward that end herself since last February.

She wanted to bring something with her as well and before she went, she got an idea from one of her fellow “Trippers” who had brought a bunch of old school athletic uniforms with him on his last trip. Williamson approached Triton’s then Athletic Director, Donna Anderson who said she had roughly 300 old uniforms lying about and Williamson could have those.

“My dad came with his truck,” said Williamson. “And we loaded up all the boxes. There were some tank tops, some lacrosse jerseys, shorts.”

The Triton togs made the 24-hour trip over to Kenya on the same plane as Williamson and her ten new friends. After landing in Nairobi, they eventually arrived at the orphanage in Kakamega and were greeted in royal fashion.

“That was one of the most special times of the trip,” said Williamson. “You pull into the compound and they just rush out of the building. They have been waiting for us all day and they just scream and you have all these hands just grabbing at you through the windows, trying to get you inside so that they can hug you.”

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