My year with IHF

Written by Annisa, local volunteer, Bali

When I got a job and moved to Buitan last year, I decided to volunteer with an organization near my workplace. When I applied, I thought I would just do it to kill the time after work. But that changed. After almost a year at IHF Bali Centre, this is what I learnt as a local volunteer teaching computer class:

  1. Share whatever you know, even a little bit. I thought I would teach English as this was the only skill I have that I thought I could share. When Alice, the Bali Co-Director at that time, told me that they didn’t have computer teacher, I doubted that I could be one. My IT skills were limited to what I used in college 5 years ago – mostly writing essays in Word. I didn’t even have a personal computer for a few years after graduation. But IHF gave me a chance to teach things that I thought everyone basically could do – very basic computer skill, basic translation, and how to ride scooter as many other volunteers did not know how (this also needs a lesson plan). So you don’t have to be genius or be super talented to contribute. When my senior students, whom at the beginning couldn’t switch on a laptop, could finally make presentation with PowerPoint, I felt like a superstar.20160820_151135
  1. Being grateful for what I have. I grew up in a small city where infrastructure and facilities were pretty much available. But when I came to volunteer here in Bali, I realized that there was a gap of education quality in comparison to where I grew up – a city in Java. Education was of better quality, and there were more options of what we could study at school. This is a reminder for me, for those who read this and I hope also for the government, to make it equal in the cities and villages throughout Indonesia.  If I never volunteered with IHF and experienced this gap myself – the reality that the kids here didn’t have the same privileges – I might not care about this issue so seriously.20160319_135954
  1. The main reason why I kept coming till the end of my stay in Buitan because being an adult all the time is boring but getting loose with the kids is fun. Being an adult means we have to be mature and serious in the things that we do (study, work, and our relationships). I can’t do certain things because it will make me look childish. When I hang out with the kids, it is one of the only the time I can be silly and be me: play chase and run (the kids will help you burn calories) then scream while getting caught, act as a vegetable or goat, transform trash into toys, and discuss imaginary situations rather than thoughtful problems that sometimes be exhausting. I don’t think of reputation or image the way some adults do. I like how children don’t care about winning or losing in a game. You are special if you are teaseable and willing to be part of the game. The children only care if what you do can create a lot of laugh or not.  Something that rarely exist in adult world where the goal of a competition is to win regardless if you enjoy it or not. Kids also never overanalyze things. For example, once we had chips and ice cream. They just eat them together because they want to know if it taste good or not. An adult will analyze first if the taste matched or not, and if they’ve been told that it doesn’t taste good, many of then will believe it without even trying.20161203_145236
  1. In IHF you can meet amazing adults too. I am amazed to see their dedication of time, money, and energy to help kids in a foreign country – kids that cannot even speak their language and have different customs than their own. They said they are looking for experience. Then, I admire them more for choosing the experience which benefit others. It’s inspiring and motivating to hear their purpose to help others. My biggest appreciation are for the co-directors who work very hard to run the centre and take care of us – volunteers and kids. Because it is an international organization, it means people are coming from different part of the world. This sounds cliche, but It always nice to learn about other people’s habits and culture (the good and bad).20160213_144715
  1. Money isn’t the only reward for work. What I get from volunteering in IHF is nothing material. Beside the superstar feeling which I felt sometimes, I received a lot of love here. It is natural, not pretentious. If the kids love you, they really do. When you leave, the love will fade. They love you as you are during the time they spend with you – not as an idea or memory. For me, that is a real kind of love.20161203_130800

I know people are talking about volunteering to make a difference. To be honest, my time in IHF probably made more of a difference in my life than the kids’.

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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.

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.

Discovering myself at IHF!

Blog post by Mengjie, WS Volunteer, Bali.

This is my second week at the IHF Bali center, I’m very happy that I made the decision of coming here. Even though we never knew each other, the kids gave me the best welcome I’ve ever had. They are so zealous and have enthusiastic! At first, I thought it would be hard for me to even remember their names, but now I am familiar with all the kids , their characteristics and fortes. Everything just happened naturally.     img_2810

The kids are always curious and passionate to learn something. They are naughty sometimes, but they do know when to stop. Most of times, they just do that to play with you. They have even took the role of being my teacher! They taught me two magic tricks and how to make a flower using tissue paper. I learned so much from them and the environment at the center makes me a happy and seems to convince that life is so easy!

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Living  here is very different from living in the cites, In the latter, There are so many not so important things that become very important to us – Branded apparel, A Big House, Make up, which turns out to be unnecessary once you get here. The kids love and respect you for who you are. You can definitely throw those things you find hard to give up there. It feels good to be here and one should definitely experience life at IHF,  I am sure it will be one of the most wonderful memories in your life.

img_2844 And since this is my second week here, I started teaching. Writing lesson plan is a new experience for me. My co-director here keeps giving me some great advice on how to make it more understandable and easy for the kids to absorb the lesson. What’s more?  The way IHF staff work and communicate through internet efficiently is worth learning. All the files in the drives are clearly sorted and  spreadsheets are clear and helpful. It’s a pity that as a voluntourist I can’t do those online work, but overall I enjoyed my time so much and think this is a wonderful experience being a volunteer in IHF center.