Emilee Taylor - General Care Projects in Kenya
Arriving in Kenya
My flight flew into Kenya late at night and upon arriving in Nairobi, I was warmly welcomed by Projects Abroad staff. On our way to the hotel, I was a little overwhelmed with how much traffic there was and with the people coming to your car window to sell you fruit, snacks or water. However, once we started driving I was able to take in the breath taking scenery. After arriving at the hotel and having dinner, I went to my room and quickly fell asleep. I was anxious but excited to see what the next day had in store for me.
Upon arriving in Nanyuki, I was taken to the Projects Abroad office and was able to meet the staff. They all welcomed me with smiles and words of encouragement, which helped make being in a new country a lot easier. I was soon taken on a town tour where I was able to buy a phone and have my first Kenyan meal of beef stew. I was worried about the food when coming to Kenya because I am a very picky eater but it was delicious.
Working in the community
After my tour, I went to my first medical outreach. This outreach consisted of bringing toothbrushes and toothpaste to the children at a local school. We taught the children how to brush their teeth properly and how to wash their hands to help eliminate as many germs and bacteria as possible. Meeting these children on my first day made me so incredibly happy that I chose to come to Kenya. They were so happy and thankful that we were there and gave us endless hugs.
During this outreach, I was able to meet the other volunteers, many of which were going to be there the same length of time I was. The other volunteers were very welcoming as well, they asked me about my flight, where I was from and answered any questions I had. Throughout our time in Kenya, we became close friends and still keep in contact.
My Care placement
During my time in Kenya, I volunteered at a school and home for orphaned children. When I arrived at this school, the language barrier was hard to break with some of the smaller children but the older children were willing to help me communicate with them. Immediately I was taught how to play some of their games, which reminded me a little bit of Patty Cake, and other hand clapping games that we play in the US as children.
After spending my first few days there, I went to my second placement where I volunteered for the rest of my stay. My second placement was at a home for infants and small children. It was here that I donated the clothes, books, toys, and diapers I had collected at home prior to coming to Kenya. The staff was grateful and some of them cried with joy, which helped make all the stressing of shoving it all into one suitcase worth it. While at my placement, I helped feed and care for the children. I also was able to play games with them and help teach them early development skills like sitting up, standing up, walking, feeding themselves and crawling. As my project came to an end, I found it hard to leave. As a parting gift, I purchased some diapers, wipes, formula and laundry baskets for the children and staff to use which they were really grateful for.
My host family
During my stay, I had another volunteer that lived in the same house as me, which was very helpful in adjusting to everyday life. My host family was very welcoming when I arrived at their house. They showed me their beautiful home and helped me settle in. Every night we enjoyed watching TV as a “family”. The first show we would watch was a popular show in America, Operation Repo, followed by the Kenyan news.
Every morning they would have fresh fruit and a delicious breakfast waiting for me before I went to my placement. They would send me off with a packed lunch and tell me to have a good day and each night we would have dinner together and talk about our day. It was interesting to get to know what my host family did for a living and how their day went.
My host family and I bonded very quickly and it soon felt like they were my own family. They would check on me during the day via text and always ask how my day went when I got home. They helped me plan adventures and things to do during my spare time. When it was time for me to leave to go back to the US, it was hard. My host mother and I both cried and hugged each other; my host dad even had tears in his eyes. They gave me a gift, which was an African painting that they had hanging in their living room. They explained that they wanted me to remember them so they were sending me home with something that meant a lot to them.
Free time in Kenya
While most of my day was spent volunteering, I did have time on the weekends and after my placement to explore Nanyuki. Most days after work, the other volunteers and I would meet at the Projects Abroad office and then all walk to a café or restaurant for a milkshake or a small snack before we went home.
My first weekend in Kenya, I went on a three-day safari with the other volunteers. We were able to meet the Samburu tribe and take part in their traditional dances, which was so much fun. The safari was incredible. We saw so many animals and we were able to see two leopards. There was even an elephant right outside the hotel we stayed at. This was one of my favourite experiences during the entire trip.
I also tried multiple restaurants. It was fun to experience the different types of food offered in Kenya. There were a few hotels around Nanyuki that allow you to swim in their swimming pools for a small fee, so on some of the hot days myself and the other volunteers would go and swim and just enjoy the day.
Traveling to Kenya to volunteer had been a dream of mine since I was eight-years-old. The Projects Abroad staff helped make this dream of mine more than anything I ever expected. I would 100% recommend Projects Abroad to anyone.
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.