Jemma Gersok - Care & Community in Kenya
I decided to volunteer on a 2 Week Special Care and Community project in Kenya with 3 of my friends. Whilst I am really glad that I went with people that I knew, there were about ten other people of a similar age to me on the project. I decided to go with Projects Abroad to Kenya because I have never been to that part of Africa before and the project looked amazing. I was very scared when I first applied because I didn’t know what to expect and I have never travelled abroad without my parents before. I was nervous but very excited.
Fund-raising for my project
I had a year to fundraise for my trip to Kenya. I was stuck for ideas and didn’t know what I should do, but my friends and I decided to organise a party. It was a great success and we raised a lot of money for the trip! I also organised a raffle and gave away good prizes so people would be interested in buying tickets. My close family and friends also donated money towards my trip which really helped me out and I was very grateful.
Travelling to Kenya
We had an hour lay over in Cairo which was fun and interesting because I have always wanted to go there. When we arrived in Kenya it was 3am in the morning. We saw two Projects Abroad team leaders with bright green Projects Abroad t shirt on arrival at the airport.
My host family
We arrived at our host family’s house on the Sunday afternoon. My friends and I were staying in the house together. Our host ‘mum’ was called Miriam and was she lovely. She made us all feel at home and was very welcoming. Every night she would sit down with us for dinner and would chat to us about our day. We were all very pleased to have her as our host mother as at times we felt quite home sick.
The difference in climate and culture was a shock to our bodies and on one occasion I felt quite Miriam was lovely and she did her best to get the right medicine and appropriate food for me. Projects Abroad were also very good. One morning I was so ill I couldn’t get out of bed and straight away our host mother rang Projects Abroad. Within 20 minutes a member of staff arrived and took me to the hospital. Although I was in a different country and felt so ill, I felt I had the best care. Projects Abroad and Miriam made me feel so comfortable, just as though I was in my own house with my family looking after me!
My 2 Week Special project
Every morning we would build a toilet from 9am to 12pm at a children’s home. I had so much fun doing it, working as a team to pick up bricks and make concrete etc. I wish I could do it all over again! It was an amazing feeling when we presented the newly built toilet to the children and staff at the home. They were so grateful and I felt such great satisfaction.
In the afternoons we would either visit schools, children’s homes or orphanages. I think this was the best part of the trip for me, because I enjoy working with children a lot. My favourite place was an orphanage for children aged 2-6 years old. The stories of the children really had an impact on me and it made me appreciate what I have. I loved working with all of the children and just seeing how different their lifestyles are to ours.
My trip to Kenya was the best experience I have ever had and I would like to do it again. I have learnt a lot from being in Kenya and seeing how close the communities are. Even though the children have very little, they always seem so happy and that really had an effect on me.
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.