10/12/2012 10:49 am ET Updated Dec 12, 2012

A Little Love Goes a Long Way...

It all started on a trip to Kenya...

A little over a year ago, I agreed to go on last minute trip to Africa with one of my closest friends, Anna. Anna is the perfect travel buddy as we like the same things, like experiencing new places and most importantly, travel well together. The plan was to meet for on a safari in the Masai Mara in Kenya. My expectation of this trip was that I would see a number of wild animals and experience what I have heard so many people speak of when they say that they went on a true "Africa Adventure"... a few zebras, family of elephants, lion couples, ostriches, buffalo, leopards, cheetahs, hippos, rhinos, wildebeest -- maybe see the migration if lucky, giraffes, and so many more. What I did not expect was to fall in love -- fall in love with a school of Kenyan girls.

The Light of Hope (LOH) is a girls school in the town of Naivasha, Kenya which is about 1 1/2 hours outside the city of Nairobi. Prior to my arrival in Nairobi, Anna spent a week at the school and we literally met on an airstrip to head to the Mara. Throughout our week on safari, Anna could not stop talking about this school, the girls living there and her experience from being there for only a week. Once back from the safari, we planned a couple of nights at one of the best places on earth -- especially for a giraffe lover like me -- at the Giraffe Manor (my experience there is worthy of a separate blog) -- and a couple of days in a swanky hotel in Nairobi. Seeing that Anna was so impacted by this school, we changed our plans and coordinated with one of the schools team leaders, who picked us up in Nairobi so that we can spend the day with these girls that Anna had fallen in love with.

LOH is one special place. I was greeted by close to 50 girls, participated in their talent show and even got to spend one-on-one time with a few of them as we were laying in the grass (what there was of it) drawing and coloring pictures. Although I cannot explain why, I was so moved by this school and these girls -- their personal stories made me cry but their smiles warmed my heart -- I know that I was there for a reason and I was meant to do something with these feelings. My mother always told me that when you feel it in your gut, it means something. This feeling took me back to Kenya this year because what I found last year was hope -- and in a literal sense, the "light of hope."