Katharine Lewis - Care & Community in Kenya
Arriving in Kenya
When I arrived in Nairobi, myself and another volunteer who I had met at Dubai International Airport, were met by Projects Abroad staff and taken to a hotel to spend the night. The hotel was extremely comfortable and very traditional so we were able to experience the Kenyan culture right from the get-go.
The next morning, we took a four-hour drive to Nanyuki which flew by in no time – there were so many new sights and smells to experience. It was definitely a surprise to look out of the window and see a baboon just sitting on the side of the road. When I arrived in Nanyuki, we were first taken to the office where we met all the staff as well as some other volunteers. We were then taken on a tour around the town before stopping for lunch and experiencing Kenyan cuisine for the first time. I must say, I was not expecting it to be so delicious.
My host family
After having our town induction, we were taken to our host families. I was staying with three other volunteers with whom I became very close and am still in contact with now. For the first week, it was just my host mother looking after us and she was incredible. She always made sure we had enough to eat and that we were comfortable and felt at home. She also made a point to ask us about our lives and our countries, as we all came from different places. I found this really interesting as I not only learned about her life and culture but also those of the other volunteers staying with me.
My Care Project
For the two weeks, I was placed at a school and home for street kids. Whilst there, we interacted and played with the kids, ranging from 3 to 18-years-old, but our main project was building a drainage system to improve the hygiene levels.
Both activities were extremely fulfilling and fun and to know that you made a difference as well as physically leaving something that would hopefully improve the lives of so many was a real sense of achievement. Every one of the kids was happy and smiley the entire time which was incredible to see despite their troubled backgrounds. It really reminds you that life is made up of the small moments and to appreciate what you have.
We worked here every morning and in the afternoons we did other activities such as traditional dancing. On the final day, we also stayed at our placement for lunch which we helped the kids prepare. It was lovely to sit and eat together. It was an amazing end to an incredible two weeks and it was devastating to have to say goodbye to everyone there.
During the weekend, we went on trips in Kenya. We took a safari and were able to see all the animals up close, without fences like a zoo would have. It was unbelievable. We took a trip to the Maasai village and to an animal orphanage. The Maasai were amazing people whose lifestyle is so different to anything I’d ever seen before. It was incredible to see a different way of living and to see how cultures can change so dramatically.
Food in Kenya
I must say, I was worried about the food before I went on the trip as I knew it would be very different to what we have in the UK - but I had no reason to. All the food was really good and I was even able to experience a traditional African dish called Ugali which was brilliant fun as you have to eat the whole meal with one hand which was very amusing to try and master. I also ate a lot of pilau and chapatti which is also very common in Kenya.
My trip as a whole
Overall my trip was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. Everyone I met and everything I did had such a great impact on my life and I hope that I was able to help those who I met as much as they helped 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.