Aryaan Bassi - General Care Projects in Kenya
Arriving in Kenya
Upon arriving in Nairobi I was overwhelmed at first by the hustle and bustle of the city, there were so many different vehicles on the road, tuk-tuks and matatus which I would later become very familiar with; as this would be my mode of transport to and from the placement.
Filled with excitement after my long journey I wanted to take in as much of my surroundings as possible, so I forced myself to stay awake on the three hour journey to Nakuru from Nairobi. It really is a shock when you are a city girl like myself and look out of the window and see zebras and baboons just casually standing by the sides of the road! However, this immediate change in environment only increased my enthusiasm and eagerness to start this project.
Upon arrival I was shown to my host family and met the other host volunteers who were staying with me- very apprehensive at first as I wasn’t too sure what to expect. But, my host family were wonderful and I became close friends with the host volunteers who were staying with me and we are still in contact!
What truly made me realise that I was not in the UK anymore was when we were given a tour of Nakuru town, although it is a small town, the multi-coloured fruits that were displayed to be sold, the busyness of the matatu station, it made me realise that I was not at home anymore and I loved it!
Fresh watermelon, pineapples, bananas were all sold by the side of the road and all the vendors try and get your attention to sell their products which, I admit does take a bit of getting used to. Later on I had my first meal with the host family and other volunteers - as I sat around the dinner table I realised how unique it was that my housemates were people from all over the world; one of the fantastic things about doing a project like this is that not only are you doing something for a great cause, but you meet these fascinating people from different parts of the world!
My Care placement
Nakuru Future was the name of the placement that I was volunteering at, it was a children’s home where the children would sleep, get food and play different games after school and during their holidays. The activities, involved me helping some of the children with their schoolwork, taking part in the children’s games whilst thinking of fun and unique things that the children had not done before. An example of some of the activities and games that I did with the children are: we had a water balloon fight, played hide and seek, musical statues, dobby scarecrow.
The children also taught me various traditional games and performed traditional African dance. Thinking back on it now, it was a truly incredible and rewarding experience and I would strongly encourage anyone who is debating whether to take this opportunity and volunteer for a good cause to do it. I created a strong bond with all of the girls and my supervisor Sharon and it was so upsetting when I had to leave on the last day. I bought some gifts for the girls before I left, (as the home was an all-girls home with the age range being from age 6-14) which included some sweets and bracelets.
My host family in Kenya
My host family took the other volunteers and me out for ‘myo choma’ which is a welcoming meal where a goat is eaten. Now I personally have never eaten goat in my life and the goat itself is cooked on a barbecue where you can literally see the intestines and all the different parts of the goat being cooked! The meat was then served on a chopping board and I tried goat intestine, where the intestine was covered in salt to mask the taste. I shall have to admit, it was not my favourite meal in Kenya, however it was a truly different experience.
My host family were always very welcoming and breakfast was also ready for us on the table in the morning. This consisted of cereals, eggs and toast and there was always a delicious hot dinner waiting for us in the evening. On one of my days off, the other volunteers and I went to visit the places where our host parents worked and it was interesting to gain more of an insight into their day to day lives. My host mum was extremely kind and upon leaving she gave us each a gift and mine was a small wooden statue of a giraffe that is in home, in my bedroom; so now whenever I see it, it acts as a small reminder of this amazing adventure I had and the incredible people who I have met.
Free time in Kenya
Although the placement does occupy most of the day there are still many opportunities to explore the area you are living in. As I volunteered for one month my free time was spent with other volunteers going on day trips to Hell’s Gate, which is basically a bicycle safari and a very different way to see animals up close!
We also went to a nearby town called Navaisha, which is where there was a large waterfall that you could pay a guide to take you close to. It was really exciting exploring all of these different nearby towns and Nakuru itself. I decided to do this project, because I wanted to do something different, yet I also wanted to help people and have a positive impact whilst exploring another country and am incredibly glad that I took part, it was an experience that I cannot ever forget and will surely stay with me for the rest of my life.
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.