Inge Lise Hoegh - Social Worker in Kenya
Family counsellor and Marte Meo therapist
Marte meo and my adventure to Kenya!
When one needs to learn more about oneself you need to be the one to take the first step! So I chose this year to volunteer with Projects Abroad for four weeks as a professional volunteer.
Plans for the trip started six months before I started on my project in Kenya, when I heard about this opportunity from a friend. From a child I had had a dream about going to Africa, so the choice was not a difficult one to make.
I am a trained Marte Meo therapist (a therapist who observes the relationship between the children and the staff) and family councilor in the SFC Slagelse municipality in Denmark. Before I went, I thought about how I could contribute with my knowledge and how I could use my experiences home in Denmark. I created a plan for how I wished to introduce the staff in Kenya to Marte Meo method of counselling, and show them how it can be implemented in their work at the orphanage. I took some CDs I had been given by a health service colleague, and also took some of my own materials.
Marte Meo method stands out as being completely independent of language and culture and is becoming popular in many countries.
I had read a lot about Kenya before my departure. I saw that Kenya is one of the few countries in the world that does not have the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales translated into their own language. Therefore, I had to go to Kenya.
The work at the orphanage was a great experience. All my thoughts from back home did not compare to what I experienced. The children and the staff accepted me with open arms. Of course there were some difficult situations I had to face due to the difference in culture. Some days I was very affected by the conditions some of the people in Kenya had to live in. During my time in Kenya I became very close with the children and thereby also with my own inner-child. In this way one can experience a development both professional and personal, which I today would not want to be without.
As an adult, you are often more reassurance seeking and aware of how easily an unfortunate situation can arise. You may worry about both safety and illness before going to Africa. But I had a comfortable experience with Projects Abroad from the very beginning as they were aware of my need to get in contact with the people I should work with. Apart from a few colds and some stomach rumbling, I did not become sick during my time in Kenya. I chose to take malaria pills and sleep under mosquito net.
I have now returned home and spent a little time digesting all my experiences. I would highly recommend that a trained professional go and do some volunteer work abroad. There is a lack of awareness and professionalism in Kenya and you will find there is a need for you, also as a senior volunteer. I think Africa’s development affects the whole world and is everyone’s responsibility. So why not spend a little time where it is really appreciated?
A generous colleague of mine donated a Hans Christian Anderson book, which I gave to a school teacher. I hope they will be able to translate it. I also took building blocks donated by LEGO London, toothbrushes from clinic Nørrevang in the Slagelse Municipality, crayons by Viking and pencils from Ensig Nordic. This was all delivered directly into the eager hands of the children.
Marte Meo came to Kenya and right now (until I go back) this is the happy ending of my adventure to Africa.
Inge Lise Hoegh
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.