My trip to Egerton Castle

Written by Annie, Work Study, Nakuru

This past week I visited Egerton castle with Timothy, one of the kids from the center. The castle was built by English Lord, Maurice Egerton for his mistress during the years prior to Kenya’s independence from England. Lord Maurice Egerton was in love with a girl back in England. He proposed to her yet the girl refused, stating that she have to live in a castle. Lord Egerton thus built a castle for her. However the girl has already married someone else by the time the castle was finished.

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Though with a sad story behind, Egerton castle now is a perfect place for group outing and events. It’s around 30 minutes’ Matatu (10-seat public transportation in Kenya) ride from our center in Nakuru. Once we got there, there was a tour guide who welcomed us and showed us around the 52 rooms in the castle. There were also some interesting exhibitions inside about the history of Kenya and other topics. Our trip took place on Thursday so it was not crowded at all. In fact we were the only four people in the castle. Our guide gave us a very detailed tour. At the end the tour, we also went to see the two lamas imported from South Africa. Outside the castle we’ve met group of children playing football at the field.

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After the tour, we went to a local restaurant in Nakuru town for lunch since we already missed the lunch time at our center. Timothy was very happy and told me about the last time a volunteer took him out to eat, which was one year ago. While eating out is like a routine for kids in western families, here for them it’s something really special. I was glad to see the happiness on his face and also a little bit sad, realizing how easy it is to make a kid’s day really special here. It made me appreciate what I have.

My first days in Nakuru

written by: Robinson, Co-Director, Nakuru
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Today marks exactly one week that I have been at the IHF Nakuru Center, and the experience i have had is indeed amazing though there have been a few challenges along the way. I arrived to Nakuru from Nairobi on the 1st of November. Since it was my first visit in Nakuru I had to be picked up from the bus stop by Joyce and Eunice. I was excited about my decision to leave behind the hustle and bustle Nairobi and move to a destination that would be a more humble existence for me, but filled with well behaved and energetic kids.
The kids around here are really jovial, and welcoming. I am enjoying every moment of socialising with them. The boys love playing football and cards every evening. I always go to the pitch to watch them play.  The girls like to play “kati” (a game where they throw a tiny ball around). They usually play immediately after they eat breakfast.
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Unfortunately, I have arrived at IHF Nakuru Center when the kids are on holidays, so I haven’t been able to help much with their school work but I will still be here in January 2017 when the schools open, so I am looking forward to that experience. I am very impressed by the kids’ excellent command of English language.
The kids have big dreams for the future. Some of them want to be engineers, doctors or lawyers while others are still undecided. For my part, all I can do is to passionately appeal to them to work hard and be dedicated at school so they can achieve their dreams.

Kenya is beautiful and filled with wonderful, welcoming people. I, myself, am a Kenyan. The local staff and the directors at IHF Nakuru Center are fantastic people. The have been very helpful while I become adapted to my new position at the center.

STRUGGLES OF KENYAN EDUCATION

Written by Joyce, Co-Director, Nakuru

Last week I spent most of my time visiting primary schools, and it wasn’t the first time I went to schools our kids enrolled in. Most of my visits are because of school fees.

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Primary education in Kenya is supposed to be free and all of the text books are provided by school. It sounds very promising, and in favor of children who are from less privileged background. However, education for these children is far from free. Children are asked to pay tuition, to donate money for school to buy footballs, to compensate teachers’ tea expenses ( teachers claim that they come school very early in order to tutor kids to better prepare for coming national exams so they need to be compensated morning tea), to buy text books, and to pay for school desks. Everyday kids get beaten for different reasons. I refused to give children in primary school tuition that I know will go into the pockets of their teachers and not to the students education. I went to school every time a child told me that they had been beaten at school for not paying school fees. When I asked what the tuition is for, teachers will respond that it is not required but it’s good that if children could pay as they work day and night for these kids.

IMG_6406.JPGYou will never be able to imagine how abusive the words from these teachers and principals as educators are to the children. I understand that these teachers, as educated adults, do not get paid a fair amount for their work, but it is not the innocent kids that should pay for this unfairness. Children are quite used to be beaten. When talked about it they act like it’s no big deal, this is the most depressing part. As a result, kids grow up with an ideology that it is okay to beat someone if she/ he makes a mistakes.  Sometimes I think the children would be better off staying home with qualified teachers we hired ourselves. However, at this moment, it is not financially and legally feasible. What is the solution?IMG_6540.JPG

Why Our Kids Love Chapati

Written by Isabel, Co-Director, Nakuru.

My name is Isabel and I work as a Co-Director at the Nakuru Center. I have been working for IHF for the last 8 months and I have come to learn a lot from the kids here.

I will try to share what the kids taught me about the thing they love the most –  Chapati. Chapati is a form of a pancake or a flatbread and the kids here have a thing for the wheat. They love Chapatis so much they can basically drop anything if the possibility to make them appears.

first-photo In Kenya chapati usually goes well with a beef stew, beans, green grams or a potato stew. The children always volunteer to make the chapatis for themselves because they know that it gives them the opportunity to have a few bites here and there during the preparation. Maybe it is a little bit cheeky but I guess kids will always be kids! They know how to divide themselves into different groups and share responsibilities among them, since making chapatis can be a lot of work. There are those who make and mix the dough. There are those who roll the dough into pancake shapes. There are also those who fry it with small pinch of oil on the pans. And finally, there are those who pack the made chapatis into awaiting bags. Our chapatis are always made from different ingredients –  eggs, milk, salt, sugar, wheat, grated carrots or lemons… Some put spices and others put food colour to add some beauty to their meal. It all depends on your preferences and capability to buy certain ingredients. You can also make them very simple by using wheat and water. I have come to learn that kids enjoy chapatis not only because of it’s flavour, but also because they are really filling and keep them full for a long time.

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Still a very important thing is that chapatis are very tasty and one can be creative enough to make from them different delicious sandwiches with anything from fruits to chicken. Sometimes the kids buy already prepared chapatis from the canteens and make sandwiches out of them. They later eat them as a night or a morning snack. I am always looking forward to these days when we make them by ourselves as they are one of the most fun days at the Nakuru Centre.

A visit to Massai Mara National Reserve in Kenya..

Blog post by Joyce, Co-Director, Nakuru.
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Last week I was fortunate enough to travel to Massai Mara National Reserve to have a close look at lovely wild animals, together with our work-study volunteer, Kenzo. Maasai Mara National Reserve is a large game reserve in Narok County, which is an approximate 7-hour drive from Nakuru.Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
We were luckily enough to spot some zebras when we were close to Lake Naivasha. Even though the road was quite bumpy, my mind was occupied with thoughts of views we will be able to see, basically inspired by photos from National Geographic.
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We arrived at around 4 p.m. in the evening and we went straight to the reserve. Kenya treated us pretty well as we got to see a couple of cheetahs not long after we drove into the park. They were adorable and elegant, passing by our car. We were impressed by their beauty and we all held our breath trying to capture this amazing moment. Later on, we saw African elephant families feeding themselves. Baby elephants were adorable and they walked beside our car, didn’t feel bothered at all. It was like a movie scene when we saw giraffe running as most of the time they were gracefully stretching their necks and stood still. In the shadow of a breath-taking sunset, we spotted a group of resting lions.
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We also visited Massai village on the third day. They are living a very simple yet sufficient life. Male adults endeavor to keep their community and stocks safe from wild animals and females build houses and take care of the children. But still you can see the influences from the modern world as beneath their traditional  red shuka cloth they wear sport shorts and tank tops.
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It is hard to describe everything we experienced in words, as words can never precisely reflect what our eyes saw. You have to explore it by yourself and breath African air to fully embrace it.

Life in Nakuru

By: Kenzo, Work Study Kenya

Although it feels as if I have been here for far longer, I arrived at the Nakuru centre just over a week ago. Now that I’ve settled into the swing of activities that happen at the centre and more generally in the Nakuru’s way of life, I can reflect on my experience here so far.

In many aspects the children at the centre live a life filled wih similar interests and aspirations I used to have when I was at school. All the children are now back at school, leaving the centre relatively quiet during the day and free for the herds of livestock which come to graze on the centre’s land. When the children return in the late afternoon and evening they studiously get on with their homework and revision, without complaint (This is different from what I used to do when I was at school :P).

Once they are at home, and all the work and revision is done,  many of the children relax by playing football (trust me, everyone are crazy about this sport here) or socializing with each other and staff.

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In spite of the interage group living and socializing at the centre there is a strong community spirit in which everyone is ready to pull their weight by doing different tasks for the centre, like buying supplies or cooking on the weekends.
Despitimg_1270e me being the only international volunteer here along with the amazing co-director Joyce, the proactive help from the children, and the local staff ensures the smooth running of the centre. Nevertheless, the weekends here can be a little bit chaotic as the children let off steam from a hard week of school and only settling in the evenings when we watch a movie. I have been trying to introduce them to some movie classics, like “The Shawshank Redemption”, but I fear many of them still favor the action and their superhero movies ( Can’t blame them for it, can we? )
However, there are some differences between my childhood and the childhood of children here. Having enjoyed a comparatively sheltered and a somewhat spoon-fed upbringing, it was only upon leaving the nest to go to university that I learned how to be independent. And even during my first week at the centre I had to be told how to: a) wash myself without running water; b) wash my clothes using a bucket; and c) navigate the country and town safely; along with countless other life hacks! In my defense, I was initially somewhat overwhelmed by all the new things during my first few days here in Kenya, this being my first time living in a developing country, especially in Africa . In contrast, all the children here have the maturity well beyond their years, and are able to live independently within the wider community.
I haven’t traveled extensively as of yet. I am looking forward to this experience, especially exploring the beautiful natural scenery and wildlife of Kenya, some of which we are lucky enough to wake up to every morning at the centre in Nakuru.

Kenya has already made quite an enormous impression on me, especially the children. I look forward to the rest of my time at the centre this month and with that knowledge I know, I will be reluctant to say goodbye at the end to my new friends here.

My First Week With IHF Kenya

By: Xinxin, Voluntourist Kenya

A week ago, I arrived at Nakuru and started a two-week program at the IHF children’s home. This it the first time I have attended a volunteer program like this, so I felt nervous when I first arrived. When our car drove into the center, many kids gathered around and img_5316-1said “hi” to us. Some of them even helped us carry our luggage! It was really surprising to me that kids here are not shy at all. On the contrary, they are very happy to come up close to us. The co-director, Joyce, showed us volunteers around the whole center and our room.  The facilities at the center are quite basic, only few small blue houses and no hot water, but its actually very comfortable and able to satisfy our needs.

The kids are interested in geography and I happen to bring a book about geography with me! With that book, I img_5407taught them some basic information about geography and they seemed to be very interested in it. The kids here like to watch movies very much, especially action movies. We selected some movies and played one movie each day. To entertain them, we have also brought some board games to play with them. They really enjoyed those games.

I had a very pleasant time here. The children here impressed me a lot. They are kind, positive, and it can be seen that they really like us.  Co-director Joyce is fantastic. She helped us adapt and deal with everyday life here . Other staff at the center are also very friendly with us, and we appreciated it! It is a very special and unforgettable experience in my life. I will remember it forever.

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Challenging and Beautiful Kenya

By: Song, Voluntourist Kenya

My name is Song, and I’m a volunteer from UNNC.  I came to Nakuru six days ago, and in these days I have learned that their living environment is very hard and I would like to try my best to help them.  The children here are smart and adorable and some of them work IMG_4901 (1)very hard in school.  They also play hard.  You can always find them playing soccer and competing against each other.  They love soccer very much and in fact, they are great players.

The first day I arrived here, I couldn’t believe that this was going to be the place that I would spend two weeks at.  I wasn’t very used to their meals.  However I have convinced myself to adapt to the environment and I won’t give up easily just yet.  This is my own choice and I should have mentally prepared myself better.  In the recent days, I have

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started to feel attached to the kids and we have had interesting conversations every day on the playground, during lunch time, or after dark.  When they are doing their homework, I also assist them with problems they are not sure about, like mathematics, English and physics.  Every evening, I prepare food ingredients for the next day with the other volunteers.  At night, I sometimes play movies for the children.  They are very excited about action movies.  I feel a sense of accomplishment when I see their lovely smiles and I always try to think of something fun to do with them.

This has been a very rewarding and meaningful experience for me.  It makes me realize to be grateful for what I have, and to grow from challenges. The experience I had here could never be obtained from a textbook.  I am glad that I made the decision to come to Kenya.

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Kenya: First Impressions

By: Cao Yaqing, Work-Study Kenya

I have been in the center for four days. First I took one day to recover from the 24-hour-Blog3flight, and then I started to work. Aggie and Edita, the co-directors here, gave a tour of the center for me. There are several little houses in the Center. The work-study volunteers, voluntourists and Edita live in the same hall, little girls and bigger girls live in another, and boys, Aggie and Isabel live in the one nearest to our neighbor. We also have two fields, and staff plant corn, kale, cabbage and tomatoes on them. When I arrived there are some rabbits too. But we decide to kill them all but one (a pet for Manuel).

Things are both better and worse than I expected. Recently we have a severe shortage of water. We were using water from several big tanks. However, we have good sanitation. The staff clean the floors and tables every morning. And the bed sheets are very clean.

Blog2Our former director, Julie, left this Saturday. And all of the staffs gathered giving her a farewell party. Kids all wrote the words they want to say to her. And it’s so sweet to see the childish handwriting and little heart symbols.

The kids here, is another thing that shocked me. They have really good behavior and mature thoughts. I talked with them a lot. The secondary school students always know what they want to do and are working to achieve it. The primary school students, they are playful as usual kids, but at the same time, when I talked to them, I can’t see a difference between them and me.

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Wonderful Days at IHF Kenya

By: Owen, Olivia and Rivers, Voluntourists Kenya

We arrived in Kenya feeling excited, and we got a warm welcome from the staff and kids. After unpacking, we gifted the kids with the footballs we carried here. It was such a pleasant thing to see: the genuine smiles on their faces, showing their shyness图片 3 and happiness. We found that these gifts were exactly what they wanted and it was quite nice to see that we were actually making a contribution to this place.

But, the living conditions were rather tough for us to adjust to: there is no hot water available for bathing, and the food here is pretty simple – merely vegetables, though we have meat every once in while. Kids here desire candy and chocolate, but it is tough for them to get sweets. The children always stare at me and then ask ” could you please give me some candies?”

The kids are really nice here and we immediately became friends. They invited us to go to the river to see the waterfall and to swim. We thought they would be shy and not outgoing at first, and so it was surprising for us to receive such generous invitations from them the first time we met. On the way there, the girls held our hands and asked questions. One of them mentioned that she has always wanted to go to the University of Nottingham, but found it impossible due to the admission fees and difficult exams. Some students are really hardworking: they keep studying even during our center’s movie night. We tried our best to accompany them and solve their homework problems. We are trying to show them how to have a good attitude towards studying but we can’t help with the admission fees. Money shouldn’t be the obstacle of a girl’s dream to get access to higher education, and that’s why they need extra help there.

We also spent a wonderful night together. We sang and played the ukulele together. Kids图片 2 here are interested in instruments and they love the ukulele I brought. However, it is a pity that they have no opportunities to play instruments and to know more about the world. Most of them have no phones and they have such poor knowledge about computers that they don’t even know how to send a email, so we are planning to have computer classes for them next week. Hopefully we can help a little.

Once we asked one of the kids what do you want to be when you grow up. He answered, to build a center like this. It touched our hearts to hear an answer like this. Caring should be passed on, and we’d like to be part of the chain.图片 1

At the end of the first week, we all felt touched. The kids are so talented and they deserve so much more. We really hope we can do the best we can to make them aware that there are people caring for them.