Anna Hurst - Care & Community in Kenya
I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to see what Kenya had to offer me. We had so much fun, made lifelong friends and experienced a new way of life. Volunteering in Kenya is something I am now able to talk about on my personal statement application for university, as I believe it shows a strong level of commitment and passion for helping others, teamwork skills and enthusiasm for new and exciting opportunities!
I also documented our travels on camera, and am now in the process of making a film. My friends Abi, Alice, Jemma and I all hope to return to Kenya someday as we loved it so much.
My Arrival in Kenya
Arriving in Kenya, late at night on Saturday 20th of July, the nerves were settling in. Neither I nor my 3 friends had ever been this far away from home before on our own. We were comforted by the smiling faces of Kevin and Peter from Projects Abroad at Nairobi airport, who made us feel very at home and soon became our good friends.
When we arrived at the guest house, we slept for a few hours until morning before making our way to our houses; we were all too excited to go to bed! We chatted for a while to fellow newcomer Harriet who was staying in our room too, about what we were most looking forward to and what we were nervous about. It was very different having to sleep under the mosquito nets for the first time. Strangely, this was something we came to miss once we were at home again!
The journey to our houses with our guest families was really long – a good few hours’ drive, but I loved being able to experience the Kenyan scenery for the first time. We got to drive past all the stalls on the side of the road, so different from the corner shops back in England! We stopped off for a toilet break at a garage overlooking the rift Valley, what a view! This was a great opportunity to take some pictures to show friends and family back home the beautiful scenery that Kenya had to offer.
Later that day we met Miriam, our host mum, who we eventually grew very close to and felt very looked after. Lynette, her house maid cooked us amazing food which we looked forward to every meal time. We especially enjoyed trying out the traditional Kenyan dishes, Chapatti and Ugali, so much so that we asked for it all the time!
The Care & Community Project
Throughout our two weeks, we helped the people of the local community at Sure 24 build a pit latrine. It was hard work every morning, but I really enjoyed working as a team with our fellow volunteers to get the job done. Working on a building site was something none of us had really experienced and it was a great work out each morning, carrying the rocks in the wheelbarrows and mixing the cement. On the job we had so much fun getting to know the community. Kenyan people are so friendly and welcoming, we all felt like we fitted in.
In the afternoons we visited the Sure 24 school, where we made friends with the children and played in the playground. We all brought along outdoor games such as frisbee and skipping ropes. My favourite game was playing duck-duck-goose, because all the children wanted to get involved, and had loads of fun.
On our last day, our friend Tracey wrote us all letters which I now keep in my souvenir box at home. Me and my friends put together all our stationery, reading books and notepads that we had brought from home, and went to give them as a parting gift to the headmaster of the school. We had our pictures taken with them, and they were ever so grateful. It felt amazing to be providing new gifts to a school.
Unfortunately, half way through the first week my friend Jemma and I fell very ill. One morning we were told we should visit the hospital to get checked out. We were both extremely nervous waiting in the waiting room, but the doctors were really friendly and made us feel very calm. I had to have a blood test and was treated for a stomach infection, and Jemma was also given anti-nausea medication. I was really sad that I missed out on an evening’s entertainment of African dancing and a visit to the restaurant.
Throughout this experience I was lucky I had my friends to support me, and Carol and Kevin from Projects Abroad who came with us, and after being given an anti-nausea injection, and a long nights rest, I soon felt better in no time and returned to work.
The highlight of my Kenya experience was our weekend trip on safari. On Saturday 27th we had a boat safari trip on Lake Baringo where we got to see crocodiles right by our boat! The water was so blue, and the air was so warm. This was a great experience after a long hard week of working.
The next day was my favourite. We went to Nakuru Park on safari, and got to see plenty of animals in their natural habitat. We saw buffalo, antelope, giraffe, pelicans, a hippo, zebra and even a rhino! The highlight of my day was when our truck got stuck in the mud next to the waterfall, and we had to push it out! This was a pure comedy moment I will always remember.
Other days out we enjoyed was the visit to Thompson falls, however the journey there was a bit of a disaster! It was supposed to take us two hours however it took us four, due to one truck breaking down, and the other getting a flat tire! The day out itself was really fun though and we all took some really great pictures and videos.
We then went to the market shop afterwards, the place we had all been saving our money for. There were some great items available, such as wooden carvings, wall hangings, masks, key chains, necklaces, ornaments and more! I would have bought the whole shop if I could. I was really satisfied with my choice of gifts for my family and actually enjoyed getting the price down.
On our last day, we presented the pit latrine to the community, and all said on camera what our favourite experience of Kenya had been, and what we were grateful for. Saying goodbye was very emotional. I'm sure there were a few tears. That night Miriam had bought us some ice cream as a dinner time gift which was such a treat, and we also gave her our presents we had bought back home, which included traditional English tea, mugs from the Botanical Gardens and English Toffees.
Overall, I had such a fun 2 weeks in Kenya, and shall miss everyone we met, especially our good friend Kevin, who made our experience a funny, welcoming and enjoyable one! Thank you Projects Abroad for an amazing opportunity, I hope to visit a new country with you again someday.
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.