The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

by Rich, Co-Director, IHF Kenya

The IHF centre is situated two hours North West of Nairobi in the city of Nakuru. Meaning ‘dust’ in the Masai language, Nakuru is part of the so-called ‘white highlands’ and is generally verdant and relatively cool. However, at this time of year it becomes apparent why it was given its name by local Masai herdsmen. With a prolonged period of elevated temperatures and a lack of rain, Nakuru turns into a dustbowl reminiscent of Spaghetti Western movies. Roads are swept with dust devils and the powder heaped at their sides can be up to two inches thick. With the scorching heat and clear blue skies, all but the rolling tumble-weed is missing.

The oppressive weather presents two main challenges at the center. The first is that water tends to be at a minimum and the mains supply can be shut off for up to three days. With two large tanks at the center we are usually able to ride it out, but on occasion, the water runs very low and we have to cut down on how much we use. The kids never go thirsty, but the reduction in showers does create a bit of a stink after a couple of days!

Kenya Dust

More importantly, the dust itself can cause problems for the children’s health. There has been a rise in cases of respiratory illnesses over the last month and it seems as though a new child every week has a cough, cold or a sore throat.
Med supplies Kenya

Thankfully then we have a new volunteer nurse arriving this week who will be able to make sure that the children are well looked after. As always, thanks to our fantastic sponsors who provide funds for the children’s medical care!  With this support we are able to provide them with all the cough syrup, throat sweets and tissues they need! THANK YOU!


Food & Fun Days in Aceh

by Julia, Work-Study Volunteer, IHF Aceh

This weekend we organized a local fundraising event in Banda Aceh: a sandwich sale. We went to Blang Padang, a local part to try and sell our sandwiches. They could also choose bags with drawings made by our volunteers. It was also a great opportunity to promote IHF center in Banda Aceh and many young people were interested in the English classes while some were interested in volunteering!

Aceh 2

It is now Durian season in Aceh. One evening, we went to a restaurant called Candrien, which sell meals only made out of durian. We could hardly eat one spoon because of the taste. But Melissa (our Indonesian Co-Director) enjoyed it; she was the only one who liked durian!

Durian in Aceh

Alexandra and I also visited Takengon, a city in Aceh. While there, we visited Putri Pukes, a famous cave. Its story is about a woman who left her home to live with her new husband. Her mother told her to not look back or she would turn into stone. But on her way she did look back and it happened. In the cave we can see a woman-shaped rock with tears in her eyes. We also visited coffee and pineapple plantations. A world wide famous coffee called Luwak is produced in Takengon. It is the most expensive in the world!


 Alexandra, our voluntourist left on Saturday. So on Friday night we organized her farewell party and also celebrated Melissa’s birthday with our local volunteers. We ate delicious home-made cassava cake, French crêpes and gifts and greetings were exchanged. We wish Alex a nice trip around Indonesia for the next three weeks and a safe flight back to Germany. And of course Happy Birthday Melissa!

A School Day in Medan

by Rob, Co-Director, IHF Medan

We broke up our usual morning routine this Tuesday by paying a visit to one of our student’s local schools. Although it meant a mad dash through the early morning rush hour traffic, the trip emerged as a good opportunity to spread the word about IHF in the local community. We were led on a whistle stop tour through a number of different classes, teaching in each for about twenty minutes, before being led outside where Rob sweated over a ping-pong table and Astrid attempted to show the kids her Michael Jackson moves, much to the despair of all involved.


As well as the usual excitement of seeing a couple of ‘bules’ (foreigners) wandering into the class unannounced, the kids also got to hear about a local volunteer project right on their doorstep which many of them had not known about. Michael is already a teacher here at IHF, and we are hoping that our brief visit might have raised enough interest in the centre for some of his class-mates to follow in his footsteps.


Ade’s Birthday Celebration! at Jakarta

by Helene & Ayu, Co-Directors, IHF Jakarta

Recently, we celebrated Ade’s birthday! Ade has grown so much since he has joined IHF. It has almost been 8 years now that he is with us. We are so proud of him, the way he is becoming a man, studying hard, being responsible, helping around at the center. On the day of his birthday, our dear volunteer Dita came by. We had not seen her for few weeks so it was a pleasure and a great timing!

We went to a restaurant nearby and celebrated with a delicious brownie! Ade blew the candles after making a wish that we hope will come true very soon! We then went back home but Rahma, following Indonesian traditions had prepared some disgusting mixture to throw at Ade. However, he was cleverer and avoided it, coming back home untouched! Lucky him!

Ade_bday2 A few words by Ade himself for the occasion!

“Hi everyone, now I’m 23.  I’m so happy because on the day of my birthday, I got my university results and I got great scores! Everyone is so proud of me at IHF! We celebrated in Dapur Kita, all together and I escaped the master plan of Rahma of soaking me with flour and eggs. Thank you so much to my sponsors for helping me to pursue my studies! See you! “

adebday3 Ade bday

ESL Teaching Tips & Tricks at Bali

by Johanna, Co-Director, IHF Bali

We were lucky to have friend and teacher-by-trade, Vanessa, help us out with a few tips and tricks in dynamic and interactive teaching strategies with our kids at the IHF Bali center. Vanessa studied teaching English as a second language (ESL)  in China and specializes in animating disengaged children in Australia. Since the children at IHF Bali are certainly not disengaged, Vanessa and her active learning demonstrations were veritable hits.


Although some of the suggestions Vanessa made to our Directors and volunteers may have seemed logical, we were surprised at how quickly and completely her strategies were able to captivate – and keep – the children’s attention. And we were made aware of how easy it is to adopt traditional (and sometimes lackluster)  teaching methods and positions because they are easiest.


Much of the two days of activity learning involved playing, reinforcement through interaction and dialogue, and abandoning the classic model of seated students, replacing them with moving, gesturing, laughing, engaged individuals…  all the while following the curriculum.

We were all indeed surprised at how much the children retained and actually comprehended, reinforcing that while a curriculum is pivotal to the success of ongoing and cumulative learning, the inclusive and interactive delivery is likewise critical.

If I could summarize in a few words: the exercise was participatory, engaging, playful, and extremely effective. Our volunteers were keen to integrate Vanessa3elements into their upcoming lessons; after seeing such good results, we were all enthusiastic to keep the momentum going.

A big thanks to Vanessa for her energy, time, expertise, and enthusiasm!

Paint Stripper and Power Shortages at Medan

by Rob, Co-Director, IHF Medan

The last few weeks have seen a process of regeneration beginning here at IHF Medan. The outside wall seems to have been in a state of flaky disrepair for some time now – soon it will be freshly coated in a new and colourful mural (currently being designed by the more artistically gifted of the two co-directors, Astrid). In the sweaty heat of the midday sun, we have been scraping off the old oil sheen inch by inch – a tiring, lengthy but necessary process – in preparation for a fresh coating to breathe some life into the old and tired cement. medan2

Hanging over our outside wall is the balcony, home to our newly repaired generator. After weeks of sporadic power shortages and desperate cries of ‘matilampu’ from the bewildered neighbourhood, we decided it was time to drag the old generator out of the backroom and have it patched up. Now when the grid shuts down we rev the rattling engine up and let the petrol do the rest of the work. Classes no longer have to be held by the light of LED lamps and the centre is fully functional once more.

Medan1The third in a hat-trick of rejuvenatory activities – our monthly cleaning day was carried out with great success. Medan’s litter that seems to drift in off the road like flotsam on the tide, coming to rest up against the outer wall and bamboo fence, has been swept away and disposed of. Any grit, dust, grime or dirt has been scrubbed from the interior, and outside has been brushed and broomed to within an inch of its life.

With preparations for ‘the big paint’ underway, the aesthetic future of our newly cleaned, newly powered Medan centre has never looked so promising.

Chiang Rai Day-to-Day

by Yuqi Chen, Voluntourist, IHF Chiang Rai | Thailand

The time I spent in the IHF Chiang Rai Centre is so far a really a good experience. In Yuqi 3Monday and Friday I got up at half past six to prepare breakfast for the kids. Firstly it was oat porridge, however just one kid ate it. It is a problem if the kids do not like the breakfast, they will go school hungry. Therefore, in Friday we changed food for breakfast, it was fried egg and rice, the kids like it so much and ate a lot. This is really a happy thing:  when the kids like to eat the food prepared by the volunteers.

In the morning, it is time for cleaning. I shared cleaning work with other volunteers and the team work finished in a good result. Constructing a good living environment is also very important for the growing up. Three little kids who are studying in the primary school finish class very early, so the volunteers need to pick them up. The kids always like to play all the way. While it takes a little bit longer to go home, this is a very good chance to know the kids and get along with them. Yuqi2

Yuqi Chiang Rai

At night, the most significant works for me are playing with little kids and preparing for dinner. As for dinner, I have prepared for about three times in a week. Sometimes I cooked, and sometimes I helped other volunteers to deal with the stuff. Although it is not difficult to play with kids,  the construction of friendship and trust with the children is more difficult. And I really enjoy the life in the centre.

I will start to give the high school girls Chinese class from next week, it will be very exciting (yay!)! .