A Lesson in Love

Kenya, Nakuru, Uncategorized, Volunteer with us, Work-study volunteer

By: Yaqing, Work-Study Nakuru

The water is a mystery here. Before I came here, I got used to the idea of no hot showers. And I figured I could tolerate that. When I arrived here, I was told that there is not even cold running water. We use water from a big tank, and the water company comes to refill the tank when it runs out.

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Fortunately, two weeks later water started to come regularly, and it was then we started to be disappointed and satisfied. The water may come in the morning or afternoon. It may come after three days, and nobody can wash their uniforms, take showers, or even drink. When the water comes, all the kids are so happy; we wash our clothes, take showers, and save water in buckets—and that’s when there is a shortage of buckets. As a volunteer who needs to prepare the cooking portion for the next day, I can’t always find buckets for storing the rice, ugali, or sugar. They’ve been saved for water or used by others.

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I’d never thought about the severe shortages of everything before I came here—and I find myself using “before I came here” a lot these days. We need buckets for kids, plates to have dinner, uniforms, and needlework…and we don’t always have enough money to purchase food. However, I’m impressed by how much the kids are happily tolerating the difficult situations here. I’ve never heard them complaining about anything. I can feel that they love here so much and they have such a strong desire to go to school. And I can also see how good their behavior is. I remember somebody said, “when you come to volunteer for kids, it’s not them being helped, it’s yourself that’s being helped.” And I know well what he is saying now.

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Inspiration and Secret Spaces

Kenya, Nakuru

By: Innocent, Work-Study NakuruIMG_20160602_182426

The mood at the Nakuru centre has settled down. It seems like we have become accustomed to each other.  I have settled into the lifestyle, and it almost seems like home now. From a Ted Talk night, movie night, a trip to the river, and raffles, this week was filled by many events. This is due to the presence of the numerous volunteers who arrived this week. The influx of people brought with it ideas — great ideas I might add.

IMG_20160601_105849This week I substituted a teacher for a life skills class that the kids usually have every week. Considering that I do not have that much life skills or experience, I drew inspiration from others. I chose 3 Ted talks that were pertinent to the kids’ situation. One was by Richard Turere, a young intelligent boy coming from similar contexts as the students. He found a way to use flashing lights to chase away lions from his family’s livestock in Kenya. They found this inspirational and interesting how simple ideas can contribute to the development of communities. The discussion we had was profound and deeply seeded.IMG_20160601_132515

Following this, the kids invited the volunteers to go see the waterfall close by where they go to swim. It was hard to say no. So we took a 15 minute hike to the river, sharing stories and taking in the green scenery. When we arrived at the waterfall it was clear why the kids came here as often as possible. The water was not clear or warm but it was an incredible playing ground. There is something about going to a river that soothes the soul, the atmosphere was calm; smiles were all around. The worst part was having to leave. I was very thankful that they showed me this precious secret.

6 Month Marker: A Co-Director Reflects

Kenya, Nakuru

BWP_20160508_13_14_21_Proy:  Aggie, Co-Director Kenya

Last week was the last week of my stay here before going home for holidays!

It was a very reflective week, full of summarizing thoughts about the past six months.  The time here in Kenya always flies.  Every day is full of unknown, adventure, surprise.

There were days which kept you busy all day long with plenty of stuff going on.  Your attention was required without any breaks.  But there were also lazy days when the rain came and stopped everything for a moment – there was a time for afternoon tea and biscuits, watching a movie or reading a book. WP_20160508_13_15_06_Pro

My past six months here were very intense – it would be hard for me
to describe it briefly to anyone who wasn’t here.  The times of joy and happiness were mixed with  disappointments and failures.  Every success of a child though compensated for any negative issue with another.

The children have been studying really hard which made me so proud of them.  It is amazing to see a child growing, becoming a better person, learning.

We have all been learning here from each other – children, local staff, directors and assistants. We have been concentrating on WP_20160508_13_13_23_Prodeveloping the team work and developing our skills.

It was a great adventure to be back to Kenya again…As usually in my case, I already can`t wait to be back to this country – somehow it has become my second home. A place where I am growing, learning, becoming better in what I want to do in my life – working in international development.  This time it will only be a three week break before I come back again.  Hopefully I will charge my batteries and be ready for hard crazy work again…it`s so worth it!

Transition

Kenya, Nakuru

By:  Ana, Work Study NakuruWP_20160402_16_18_35_Pro

My name is Ana and I am from Valencia, a city on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.  I left my country almost eight years ago to move to London (UK).  I have also lived in New Zealand and Australia, but there has always be one place, one continent that made my heart beat every time I thought about visiting or living; Africa.  I left my job in Australia to travel around Africa.  I have been in nine countries around East Africa and I fell in love with its people and its cultures.  It is a fascinating continent that leaves you with a sweet and sour feeling for its beauty and the sadness of seeing so much poverty and injustice.

After three months of travelling I decided to come back to Kenya to do some volunteer work with IHF.  IHF works with disadvantaged children that have been placed in a children’s home by the community chief, due to the extreme poverty in their own community of East Pokot (a province in western Kenya, close to the border with Uganda).   IHF runs six centers across the globe, in Kenya, Thailand and Indonesia.  I arrived at the center in Nakuru last Friday, and as soon as I DSC04819arrived the guards and some of the children came out and welcomed me.  Which, after my long trip from South Africa, made me feel much better.

I am a work-study volunteer and I will be working for two weeks before I return to Spain.  I have been living at the center for three days now, in the same conditions as the children, and what I can say at this point is that it is definitely not easy.  I have traveled around many African countries prior to my arrival at the center and I saw the living conditions of many communities, but you never get used to seeing it.  I was shocked when I saw 49 children living at the center in very basic conditions (but obviously much better that the conditions of where they came from and with much better care).
But what is even more shocking is that the smiles on their faces never disappear.  No matter how little they have, they always keep smiling. That is what gives me strength to keep going DSC04817every day.  It is a huge thing to get used to life in developing countries.  Some people find it harder than others, but having no proper shower, no washing machine, no proper kitchen, electricity and water cuts, and very basic food to eat every day is definitely not easy.

Changes like that, when we are used to all the commodities that are available to us in western countries, are definitely a big challenge.  It is a process, but it is all about adjusting and overcoming.  Overcoming your fears and realising that life is not about a shower or a nice roast pork for dinner; it is about a smile, about a sense of community, about helping each other without asking anything in return, about love and compassion, and about trying to keep those smiles as big as possible no matter how little you have.

Beautiful Children, Beautiful Kenya

Kenya, Nakuru

By:  Aggie, Co-Director KenyaWP_20160327_11_17_57_Pro

My name is Aggie and I`ve been volunteering in Nakuru Center for nearly 6 months now. Time is flying by unbelievably fast here, it feels like Christmas was only yesterday and now it is already Easter!

We are continuing the work with our kids, having homework club and giving individual assistance and support. We are now all preparing for the end-of-term exams so there has been a lot of studying going on lately.

WP_20160321_17_10_21_ProThe kids study very hard and try to get the best grades that they can. At the same time we are all in the upcoming holiday mood, looking forward to relaxing and having time off from school!

Last week another volunteer and I spent a wonderful few days off in the eastern part of Kenya, known for magnificent lakes with islands, vast semi-arid landscapes, and breath-taking views. It was a very relaxing experience, full of adventure andWP_20160326_06_48_16_Pro spontaneous situations. We had a lot of fun! We are now back at the center, with much
more energy to work and share our enthusiasm with the kids, so to motivate them even more in their studies.

We all hope the exams will go well for them and that soon they will be enjoying their well-deserved holidays. We are all looking forward to it!

Urban and Rural Lifestyles

Kenya, Nakuru

By: Edita, Co-Director NakuruIMG-20160314-WA0000

It is my third month being here and I am discovering different sides of Kenya. This week our work-study volunteer Lisa and I went for a one day trip to East Pokot. East Pokot is a tribal area in Baringo County. The idea to visit this area came to our mind because the children living at our centre come from there. The trip was really exciting starting with the wonderful landscape on the way IMG_3074to Pokot. We were lucky to be there on the market day. We saw local people gathering to sell or buy things in the market. We also visited a house of one local staff of our centre, where we enjoyed great homemade Kenyan tea.

Being there made us wonder two things. First we thought about how the difference between life in Pokot and Nakuru was so massive that you could hardly believe that you were in the same country. Then, we thought about the way people live. The mindset which they have here is so different from our western thinking, IMG_2874The discussions with local people always led to laughter from both sides of the discussion.

The life at the centre is quite calm these days, all the children are now in school, preparing for their first term exams. Us Co-Directors are also trying to offer more support with their homework and help our children perform well.

Nakuru and the Importance of Education

Kenya, Nakuru

By: Isabel, Co-Director NakuruIMG-20160228-WA0002

My name is Isabel and I am a co-Director at Nakuru Centre in Kenya. As one of the Co-Directors of the centre and having stayed here for one and a half months, I have managed to become close to the kids. It’s even easier to interact with them since I am Kenyan. We have had many educational sessions. I have talked to them about the importance of education and what it is like to be out of school. Last weekend we had some guests at our centre. Along with helping with work at the centre, they also had a motivational talk with the kids which made it easier for personal questions to be asked and addressed.

The football pitch was also cleared and it’s amazing to see the kids play over the weekend. So much talent can be seen in some of them. This is what we as co-directors are trying to IMG_5214nurture — talent. Other than education, we know how far talent can take some of them. What I like about the centre is how understanding the children are when it comes to different situations that occur at the centre. They are very mature and once an explanation has been given to them they are good.

In a few weeks the high school results are going to be released. We have a few candidates at the centre, and we are excited and looking forward to it.

Given that this week begins new month, we can’t wait to see what it has in store for us.

Volunteers visit Kenya

Kenya, Nakuru

By: Mike, Co-Director Kenya IMG_5494

My name is Mike and I am a co-Director in Nakuru from Johannesburg, South Africa. I have been here at the centre for almost four months and am enjoying the learning experience that the centre is providing me with. This week has seen a lot of action on many different fronts. With one of our co-Directors going on her monthly four-day leave on Wednesday, the IMG_0857work has picked up quite a bit. But she left four co-Directors at the centre, so it has not been that bad. The real excitement came when we had to host around eighty volunteers who had come to do some community outreach at the centre.

The group from Cap Youth Institute came and did a variety of activities from cleaning the buildings, washing the children’s clothes, cooking meals, feeding the rabbits, cleaning the centre grounds, chopping firewood, and clearing the soccer field at the centre. IMG_0870They also played a game of soccer against the children, which proved to be a lot of fun and the boys really enjoyed it. They got to share some experiences, personal and otherwise, with the children.

We also received a huge amount of donations from the Cap Youth Institute as well as some other parties, which were greatly appreciated by the children.

Same City, New View

Kenya, Nakuru

 

BIMG_5320y: Isabel, Co-Director Nakuru

My name is Isabel. I am a new Co-Director at the Nakuru IHF centre and this is my second week here. I come from Nakuru so adjusting to the centre has been easier for me. I feel like I am still at home, except for the big family of children and staff which am not accustomed to.

I am slowly getting used to this. The thing that is a bit challenging for me is some of the online work. But with the help of other IMG_5251Co-Directors, I am catching up.

I came to the centre at a busy time. Some of the kids are being sent to new schools and others are still to be admitted. I am also fortunate to have come at a time when a new system of school follow ups has been introduced.

I am excited to be in charge of one of the groups. I know this will be very helpful and necessary measures will be taken to improve and upgrade the marks of the children. I WP_20160204_11_54_48_Probelieve we will also have better relationships with the children, hence making it easier for us to know any other pressing issues they might have.

This week we will be doing an induction of what we plan to do with the children and hopefully it will be the beginning of great and better things to come.

Nakuru’s Family Grows

Kenya, Nakuru

 

By: Edita, Co-Director NakuruIMG_0832

My name is Edita, I am a Co-Director at the IHF Nakuru centre in Kenya. I originally come from Lithuania, but for the last three years I have been living in different European countries due to studies and work. It has been only two weeks since I became part of IHF team at the Nakuru centre. These two weeks were full of new experiences, small cultural shocks and a lot of positive emotions.

WP_20160114_18_16_28_Pro (1)It is my first time living and  traveling outside  Europe. Therefore many things are totally new for me. I am happy to have daily cultural exchanges with the children living in our centre. They also help me learn some basic words in their local Kiswahili language, and in return I help them with their homework.

Working here in the centre is like being part of a big family were everyone tries to help each other and 20160117_174453to learn from each other. I myself learn something new everyday from these children and  I am inspired by their enthusiasm and dedication to studies. I hope that during my stay here I will manage to inspire them and contribute to them achieving their goals.