Chieh-Yu Hsiao - General Care Projects in Kenya
After three connecting flights, I finally arrived in Nairobi, Kenya. I spent a night in Nairobi with one other volunteer. Both of us couldn’t sleep that night because we were overwhelmed by this lively city. We were also very excited about travelling to Nanyuki, having our placement inductions, and meeting our host family in the morning.
My first impression
This was my first time in Africa and, to be honest, I was shocked. I was expecting to see open plains and wild animals everywhere, but little did I know, Kenya is far more than just the savannah and the Big Five. Kenya is filled with wonderful people, amazing food, delicious Chai tea and the fantastic telecom company, Safaricom.
My Care Project
My job was to teach at Hope and Home, where they provide daytime nursery care and primary education for children aged four to 16. What makes the place so wonderful is that it provides education, food and a home to street children. One of the goals at Hope and Home is to have every child eventually attend a local high school.
My role at the placement was to teach English, Maths and Science, and to enhance their emotional development. During my stay there, I was assigned to Class 3. I taught the children grammar, simple multiplication and division. I also taught some Mandarin because they were very curious about my native language.
I also brought my own materials from Taiwan and I ran a crafting class and a DIY Science class, which the kids enjoyed a lot. In the Science class, we made walkie-talkies out of paper cups, knitting yarn and straws. During my placement, it wasn’t only the children who were learning; I was also learning from them. I asked the children to write a journal every two days to improve their writing skills and they wrote some amazing stories that really touched my heart and put things into perspective for me.
My host family
My experience wouldn't have been the same without my host family. They've done far more than what you’d expect from a host family. We went to the local market together, tried new things together, looked at the stars together, played cards together, watched movies together, and so much more.
We also went on a family trip to their hometown, Naivasha. We met the entire family and visited the local giraffe centre and animal sanctuary. They made me feel like a billionaire because of all the love and happiness that they gave me.
Above all, I met three of the sweetest, most awesome kids. I miss cuddling with them in the early morning before work, singing songs with them, and I miss the way the kids called me "Tophia" before they could pronounce my name correctly. Thank you for giving me a home in Kenya that makes me want to go back.
Free time in Kenya
Luckily, there were nine others volunteers who came about the same time as me. Together, we formed a “Kenya Believe It” dream team. It all started with the Swahili lesson, where we learned a lot of basic Swahili phrases. Then we had a rapping competition in Swahili, which was really fun. I even got my nickname “Binti Sophia” after the lesson, which means Princess Sophia.
On my first weekend, we went on a safari trip to Samburu. Our first stop was the Samburu village, where we truly experienced the village lifestyle and got to purchase some amazing handmade bracelets and décor. During the safari game drives, we got to see elephants, leopards, warthogs, zebras, giraffes and so much more.
We also visited an animal sanctuary in Nanyuki and had lunch at Trout Tree where there were plenty of black-and-white colobus monkeys around us.
I have accomplished my goals at my placement, but I think there are still so many things that I can offer. I appreciated the experience that Kenya gave me; all the love, all the joy, and all the laughter. I am absolutely in love with this place. I am definitely going to come back soon.
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.