By: Isabel, Co-Director Nakuru
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 nurture — 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.
By: Sahat, Co-Director Medan
Many things happen at the center, especially when we have volunteers from abroad. As always, the children love to see new faces and it is a very good opportunity for the volunteers to share their knowledge and experiences with the children. Learning Bahasa with the children was one of activities we held. The children and volunteers were having good interactions, sharing with each other in this language and cultural exchange. Not to mention, teaching with the children every day is our priority, and volunteers helped our center teachers. We also organized some special activities with children on Fridays. Our English classes are always very active for those present in the class. Our teachers always try something new in their teaching that can increase student motivation and have them become more engaged in learning activities.
Recently, we went recruiting and visited the children from home to home. It was a great time to share our flyers and seek poor families to help them afford good education. We love to see their smiles when we were able to talk to them directly, and give them chances for education. In order to grab knowledge to have a better future in their life, you must have education. By going door to door, we believe we can get more students to register for classes at the center. We are so happy to say that we have seen some children had come along with their parents to register at the center.
Another day, we had a special activity about making snow dolls from chart paper. We prepared all the things that we need to have such as chart paper, colored paper, crayons, and glue. Children are encouraged to use their imagination to create their own snow doll. Our teacher Nur is always a great helper and joined to teach the children step by step how to make a snow doll according to their interest. She helped them to cut the paper, glued the materials, and gave them the colors. After we did all, the children could take home their own craft. We really had so much fun and we hope that we can get more students to join with our special activity class in the next session!
By: Joyce, Co-Director Jakarta
When I stepped out of airport in Jakarta, the heat wave immediately hit me. A new journey is going to start for me on this tropical island. On the way to Jakarta center, I was trying to picture my new life while watching the most common transportation, motorbikes, passing by wildly. You can’t possibly imagine how many people can fit on one vehicle.
First-week life in Jakarta
Our center in Jakarta located in a peaceful and friendly neighborhood. Even though I struggle with the local language, people will still be patient and try to understand my requests. Street vendors are arrayed along the road and provide tasty snacks as well as typical local dishes. Pisang Bakar Coklat Keju (Grilled Bananas topped with chocolate and cheese) is definitely my favorite so far.
First connection with students
Kids at center are terribly adorable and energetic. They never seem worried about anything. I cannot help smiling just watching them play and joke with one another. Their innocent laughs are infectious. I had a nice conversation one day with a girl, Eka, who is in class SMP. She was very shy and quiet at first. We started to talk about the book she is reading. She told me she loves reading and wanted to be a writer in the future. She is completely different when she talks about literature. I can see the confidence, determination and passion in her eyes and voice. At that time, I realized that teaching here is not only about knowledge. More importantly, I’m dealing with many pure and beautiful souls, which may need to be comforted when they are down, encouraged when they are lost, and blessed when they are proud.
By: Jim, voluntourist Aceh
When I was typing these letters, it was the end of my teaching journey in IHF Banda Aceh Center. Compared to the first week, I felt more comfortable to deal with lessons and the daily life.
Along with the normal classes, we also taught mandarin to SMP students. It was very exciting to express our Chinese culture to Indonesian people. But it was also a big challenge because the pronunciation and writing of mandarin is difficult for foreigners. I thought the class was carried on well, and I was happy to let more people know my country.
I was also touched by the enthusiasm of local volunteers. These people are really warm-hearted. They said ‘hi’ to me with passion and even helped us with our classes, for
example, they translate our English to Indonesian which made our speaking easy to understand. When I was free, it was interesting to talk with these local volunteers and co-directors. We talked about our universities and the difference between our cultures, even small personal stories. All these stories made the conversation full of laughter. I now know more about how different people live and think in different parts of the world.
For pleasure, I went to Sabang on Sunday with my friends. We tried diving in the near ocean and it was really a fantastic experience. It was my first time to dive and the peace inside the ocean surprised me. We also went to see the sunset. Although there were many clouds in the sky, the orange of the sunset and the blue of the ocean created a beautiful view!
The volunteers in the center and the local people impressed me a lot, they helped me in these days and treated me as their friend. This journey must be one of the most wonderful memories in my life. I hope that I can recall these moments and never lose the passion of life that I feel in Banda Aceh.
By: Mike, Co-Director Kenya
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 work 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. They 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.
By: Ashleigh, Work Study Bali
The first two weeks of my month long stay at IHF Bali happened to be the start of a two week holiday period for the children too. During this time there are numerous ceremonies for the Galungan-Kuningan period, which is when the Hindus celebrate the victory of Dharma over Adharma. So while my start here may not be as per usual – it definitely has been both an interesting and exciting time to be a volunteer!
The last few days have been particularly busy around here as everyone travels back to their family homes to prepare and await Galungan day. On this day the Hindu’s believe that their ancestors’ spirits come down to visit earth. Penjors which are tall bamboo poles decorated with coconut leaves, fruits, flowers and other special items are displayed outside houses as an offering to God and their ancestors – making Buitan and the surrounding towns look very festive.
As a result of these holidays, we have been running special activities at the centre for the children instead of normal classes. These days have been enjoyed by both the students and volunteers! From making playdough to drawing faces on balloons filled with flour and weaving yarn hearts for Valentine’s day – all has been done with great enthusiasm and the learning of new English and Indonesian words along the way. The creative talents of the children here are extraordinary and definitely put my own skills to shame.
Despite the very appropriately named wet season, life in Buitan is festive at the moment and everyone is very friendly and happy as well. Classes will return to normal in the following weeks. I am very much looking forward to the rest of my stay here and being able to spend time with the children and people of Buitan.
By: Julie, Executive Director Thailand and Kenya
The weeks seem to be flying past now I am coming towards the end of my stay at IHF Chiang Rai. The weather is getting hotter every day. The time from 4pm, when the light is so special and it is warm but not too hot, is becoming my favourite part of the day. To keep cool in the afternoons many people have been heading to the river to swim. It is very shallow now as we’ve had no rain for several months and you can wade right across it to the other side. It is lovely to sit in the shade on the bamboo platforms by the side of the river and watch the water slide by.
I was very fortunate this week to be invited for dinner with my Thai friends – Suchai and Od. They have just moved into a new house next to the bottling factory they own and it was very beautiful. On the way we stopped to buy some freshwater King Prawns which are farmed just outside Chiang Rai. They were swept out of their tank (alive) and straight onto the BBQ. Whilst they tasted delicious I felt a bit bad for them.
Continuing the food theme, the children requested fresh Tilapia (river fish) and so I went to the local market to buy these for dinner. Again the fish were still alive and were prepared on the spot. The local markets are wonderful in the diversity of fresh meat, fish and vegetables at very cheap prices. I know I’m going to miss all the Thai delicacies when I return to Kenya next month.
By: Nur, Local Teacher Medan
My name is Nur. I have been with IHF as a local teacher in Medan Center since last year. I have been teaching Maths for primary levels here.
Medan Center has been like my second home. This center is not only teaches the children but the local teachers as well. I learned how to communicate with the kids better. I believe the best way to improve ourselves is by sharing our knowledge with others, because sharing motivates us to gain even more knowledge.
Every Friday, Medan center has a special class for local teachers to improve our English conversation skills. This class has been taken care of by Ms. Aditi, one of our Co-Directors. As a local who never goes out of my shell, getting a chance to share stories with the foreign volunteers is something nice to do. We get a chance to know how living in other countries than ours. It is so very interesting. Our Co-Directors are patient to guide the teachers if we don’t understand some subjects. I just can say thank you very much everything. I believe whatever I got from here will be useful in improving myself for a better future.
By: Gabby, Co-Director Jakarta
This was a very special week for use here at Jakarta center. Not only did we have a full week of classes, but we organized and hosted a fundraiser as well!
Katarina has begun her Art history program with our students. This week they learned about the art of ancient Egypt. Art history is a great way to get students curious about other cultures, while still enabling them to think creatively. Though the class was delayed (due to the infamous Jakarta traffic) the students left with a greater knowledge of the world around them, and capitalized on a chance to stretch those creative muscles!
In addition, we practiced some abstract painting with our SD1-6 students. They really took to the activity, and enjoyed the lack of rules or structure. Sometimes being able to do works of art like this can be the greatest stress reliever. Let’s not forget that children can get stressed out too! all in all it was a great, stress-free event and day.
The most notable part of this week however did not occur in the classroom. Our Fundraiser, “Meatballs for Education” was held on Sunday. Even though it was the beginning of Chinese New Year, we still had a pretty good turnout. The event was a lunch, where attendees could eat some Bakso (or meatballs,) kindly donated by Bakso Benhil, tour our center, and learn a bit more about our programs. We raised a total of Rp. 781,000 on the day, and are incredibly thankful to everyone who attended.
Hopefully we are able to host more events like this in the future. We are passionate about our children, and will continue to work with the Jakarta community to garner even further support for our programs.
By: Julie, Executive Director Thailand and Kenya
It’s hard to believe how quickly my time here is passing. I am already past the half way point of my three months and starting to plan my return to Kenya. I’ve been able to do some new things whilst I was here including a day trip to the lake at Phyao, the flower market and the undertaking of a Hah Yaew tattoo ceremony. The 10 rules by which I now have to live my life will give me a profound and lasting memory of my time here in Thailand.
The other beautiful thing about my visit has been being able to renew my friendship and care of the young people here. Having been given a warm welcome back we have now settled into a comfortable family atmosphere. I don’t even have to badger the boys to cook and clean! The girls have had some difficult choices to make about their futures. Sukanya and Janjira will be finishing High School in a few weeks and have made the decision to go to university in Chiang Mai. This will mean a very fast move for them to independence but they have both chosen a very good university and excellent courses. Whilst I will miss them and hope they will keep in touch, I’m very happy that they got such excellent grades to enter a top university in Thailand. We also had a visit from a former child of the centre – Soithong – with her baby son who is now one year old. I was delighted to see her and it was lovely to have a baby at the centre for a few days. He was very spoiled by us all.
We had a large festival here near the centre with loads of food (the Thai’s do love their food!) and clothing stalls. It had a really bizarre cowboys and Indians theme but most strange was the baby rabbits dressed in Suits and dresses. I had to laugh and sent it to the team in Kenya as a suggested development to our rabbit project.