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Cronin, Girlfriend Robbed in Kenya
December 28, 2009, 12:27 PM
Filed under: Sam Cronin, Toronto FC

Sam Cronin and his girlfriend, Samantha Holt, had an African experience they’re unlikely to forget.

They spent 18 days in Kenya earlier this month, working at two orphanages through the Amani Children’s Foundation. They said that the time was rewarding, even though some of their things were stolen near the end of their stay and they had stomach problems from some of the food.

“It was great to see how another culture lives and what those kids are up against,” said Cronin, who played soccer at Mount Tabor High School and Wake Forest, and recently completed his rookie season with Toronto FC of Major League Soccer. “It gives you some perspective that you don’t have because you take for granted how we were raised and how lucky we have it.”

The two returned last week in time for Christmas, but they talk as if they already have received plenty of gifts.

“It was so rewarding,” said Holt, who played soccer at Mount Tabor and briefly at Tulane.

The two had planned to have soccer clinics for the children, but officials in Kenya said it was probably better that they didn’t.

“After we got robbed in our hotel room, they just thought it was best that we got out of there,” Holt said. “So we never did get to do the soccer clinics, but we got to see how those kids live and how appreciative they are in seeing anybody who comes to visit.”

Holt and Cronin read to the children, played with them often and got to know them as well as they could.

Holt said that one of the orphanages had 23 children, ranging in ages from 1 to 5.

“There was one little boy, Reuben, who would come straight to me (every day), and he just wanted to hold me,” Holt said. “It was very sweet to see how the kids reacted to us being there.”

The couple taped children singing Christmas songs, but their video equipment was among the items stolen.

“One boy, who was named Judith, sang a solo, so those are just some of the things I’ll remember forever,” Holt said.

Cronin said one of the things that surprised him most was the range of living conditions. In Nairobi, he saw an affluent part of the city that he said looked like any city in America.

“But then there would be other places just outside of Nairobi where living conditions were very poor,” he said. “There in the countryside, there were some really impoverished areas.”

Holt said the orphanages where they worked had decent living conditions.

“The biggest problem is these kids just need the attention and love at that age,” Cronin said. “The workers who take care of the kids do a great job, but the kids are in need of a mom or dad, so they latch on to you pretty quickly.”

Cronin and Holt have dated since high school and had talked about going to Kenya for several years. After both graduated from college in the spring, they decided the time was right.

“There was really nothing holding us back from going,” said Cronin, who will report to Toronto FC’s training camp Feb. 1. “It was one of those things where we really wanted a life experience like this, so it was very rewarding.

“You have to experience it for yourself and see what it’s all about. And Samantha and I really saw firsthand what it’s like over there.”

Their only regret was the theft — it happened one night when they ventured away from their hotel for dinner — and the mementos they lost. They had shot plenty of video and pictures, and those they had e-mailed to family and friends still exist, but many of the images are gone.

“We had kept track of everything and had a lot of good footage and pictures,” Cronin said.

“We were both just glad that we weren’t in the hotel room when we got robbed.”

Source: Click Here

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