Last week, Will – one of our Volunteer Recruitment Managers – wrote a blog about his visit to Ghana in April of this year. In the second part of his Travel Tale, he reminisces about his volunteering trip to Kenya, which took place a few months later in August. Over to Will!
I was so excited to return to Africa following my trip to Ghana four months previously. I really wanted to experience East African culture, so a trip to Kenya seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Arriving in Nairobi, I was instantly taken aback. There’s a lot to take in – the slums, the people, the very different road system – and we reached Nakuru in what seemed like no time at all. I fell asleep on the journey, only to be awoken by Fred, one of our Trip Hosts, as he pointed out a giraffe leisurely crossing the road. I genuinely thought I was hallucinating after a long day of travelling – but the pictures I took proved otherwise! After that, I kept my eyes firmly open, and was rewarded by the sight of zebras, baboons, and wart hogs, as well as the standard cows, sheep, and pigs we’re more accustomed to seeing in the UK. It was so interesting to see all the animals and witness first-hand how different daily life is in Kenya.
After a great night’s sleep at our accommodation, we headed to Cherish School – the partner project where we would be volunteering during our time in Kenya. The children at the school greeted us with dancing and an acrobatics display, after which we were tasked with partitioning a classroom. It sounds technical, but it’s basically just building a wall to split one big classroom into two smaller rooms. We didn’t just help with building work though – we also supported with teaching and sports coaching.
I was asked to mark some books, and helped teach some of the 14-year-old students BODMAS (a maths technique for completing long sums). I was genuinely taken aback by how intelligent the children were. They were far better at maths than I have ever been, or ever will be! From that moment on, I made sure never to underestimate the intelligence of these young people, some of whom walked over an hour each day just to get to school. These children changed my perspective on volunteering. I think some people volunteer with the assumption that these children aren’t educated, and don’t understand basic maths and English. This is so far from the truth. I’m not saying you’ll find six-year olds studying astronomy or anything, but when challenged with lessons that are a bit different to the norm, they respond really well. My one piece of advice for any teaching volunteer would be to think outside the box and be creative!
After five days of non-stop building, teaching, and bonding with the children, we embarked on our adventure activity – the Rift Valley Adventure Day. I was expecting big things after effectively experiencing a ‘mini safari’ on the drive from Nairobi to Nakuru – and boy, did it deliver!
We were lucky enough to see so many amazing animals. A particular highlight was when a curious baby giraffe came to inspect our safari van. We also got up close and personal with a family of baboons, and witnessed zebras, rhinos, and warthogs roaming the picturesque savannah. Following the safari, we drove to the Equator, before ending the day with a hike at Thomson Falls – one of the deepest waterfalls in East Africa. Pictures don’t do it justice!
We returned to Nakuru to spend the second day of our weekend relaxing, before heading straight back to volunteer at Cherish School on Monday. We managed to finish off the wall we were working on and tie up our teaching. Our last day was – as expected – an emotional rollercoaster. I’m not ashamed to admit that a few more tears were shed as we said goodbye to the children and teachers. Although it was only a 10-day trip, it’s an experience which I believe everyone should have at least once in their lifetime.
My time volunteering in Kenya was completely different to my experience in Ghana. The cultures of the two countries are so different, but both equally as rich, welcoming, and vibrant. It was brilliant to be able to spend time with our in-country staff, get to know them, and learn how truly incredible they all are. I know it sounds cliché, but I felt an enormous sense of pride to be a part of such an incredible organisation that does such worthwhile work. I can’t wait to visit Zanzibar one day – our third host destination – to experience those emotions all over again.
Until next time!