“Mzungu! Mzungu! Mzungu!” The alien language swirls around me and a sea of curious eyes meet my own. Young children creep behind me and sheepishly reach to touch my skin but jerk away as if I am on fire. The slums of Nairobi, Kenya resemble a remote world that isolates its people from the industrious city that surrounds them. Most are utterly unaware of the vibrant colors and deep-fried smells that drift down the city streets. They do not hear the honking cars and streams of people that are careful to avoid this area or notice the towering buildings above them. In this place, smoky and pungent smells greet you while tiny tin houses fill your field of vision. Scraggly stray dogs and squawking chickens remain underfoot and pick at the massive piles of trash that are scattered in between the houses. These trash piles attract the destitute who mill around them and scavenge for food. As I walk, my every move is tracked carefully behind cracked tin doors. I am an outsider. My pale skin fascinates the children who have never seen a mzungu while the adults peer at me guardedly. This is not a place that one would choose to venture into, and my presence is bewildering. I represent the existence of a world that they cannot enter as they have instead been forced into a life of poverty, which ruminates through these slums. I feel helpless that I cannot offer more than allowing the children to stroke my hair and graze my freckles. The connotation of mzungu brings an unnerving sense over me. I am worthless in a place like this, because I can do nothing. I sense that I have a purpose in being there, but I’m not sure I trust the feeling. When we arrive at the New Life Home just outside of Nairobi, I force myself to forget the strange outlook I had in the slums, but it won’t fully disappear. The New Life Home is a lofty building surrounded by a brick wall that greatly differs from the environment of the slums. This orphanage is a fortress but has an aura of tranquility and secureness. A staff member graciously greets us and leads the way to a room tucked behind the staircase. The room is stickily hot and the eggshell color walls are peeling as if rebelling against the vicious heat. A TV in the corner of the room blares loudly, and I later find that it plays the same program over and over again. Dully colored mats are the highlight of the outdated room which provide a spot for a dozen babies to sit and play with toys. A caregiver comes and greets us, but I hardly notice her because of the baby she holds in her arms. He has very curly hair and is doe-eyed but even more so, his curiosity is evident by his determination to squirm his way out of the woman’s arms. She sets him down on a mat and uses her foot to block him from wandering off. This earns her a dirty look and one of the clearest facial expressions from a baby that I have ever seen. My laughter gets his attention, and he gives me a toothy grin that made me immediately love him. The nurse says that his name is Ricky and like many of the babies there, he has been diagnosed with HIV and has many other conditions they have yet to diagnose. She explains that his parents followed a typical disposal method of choice by putting him a trash bag and leaving him on the side of the road for the lions. Although shocking, it happens often, and Kenyans believe that any sign of special needs is a curse upon them. Ricky was blissfully oblivious of this, though, and we made a quick connection by his fascination with my braces. Ricky’s jubilant laughter and innocent eyes stole my heart, resulting in me spending all of my time with him. At the end of the day, I dreaded going to tell him goodbye, but when the time finally came, I couldn’t help wanting to take him with me. His face grew serious, like he knew I was leaving, and as I backed out of the room, his cries rang through the hallway. Those ample eyes captured his life that had already been filled with turmoil and betrayal by the people who were supposed to give him unconditional love. I felt broken and like I was doing the same thing his mother did by leaving him and throwing him into the world. My guilt stemmed from his impression that everyone leaves and even at his young age, he knows what he deserved, and it was not to be in a crowded orphanage waiting for someone to come for him. He didn’t deserve to be cast away, because his parents were misinformed about his conditions. I never forgot his little face and I never forgave myself for leaving him. This experience spurred my passion to become a special education teacher, because I want to be an unwavering voice for those who are crushed by society’s ways of suppressing them. I want to educate others and provide connections for people that might not have existed before. This has become more than a passion, it has become my purpose in life and a purpose I hope to continue to fulfill in the future.