A volunteer’s story – Amanda’s visit to Kenya

Arrival in Mombasa

Off to Mombasa! Well, After a long flight to Mombasa I was picked up by a really lovely gentleman, and driven through the suburbs of Mombasa. Already you can see the major contrasts between the UK, where we live and where they live. It was so different.

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My bedroom at the volunteer house.

I arrived at my new home which volunteers and some of the project staff share together. It was fairly close to our standard of living, but amazing to the way the Kenyans around me were living. I was welcomed by one of the nuns, Sister Emma, the security guard and Eileen my house sister who prepared all my meals, and showed me around Mombasa.

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Amanda with one of the boys she taught at the project.

Sister Emma spoke about the project and gave me a run-through of how everything worked. The next day was Friday and I was showed the route to the project and how to take the right Matatu (little mini buses which are like taxis, they go when they are full).

Teaching for the first time

On arrival at the project I was greeted by all all the young people and sister Roberta. Sister Roberta spoke in depth about the young boys, and their tough backgrounds. Volunteers are needed to help the boys used to routines and study again, perhaps for the first time. I taught English and practised a lot of informal education and youth work games. I had no teaching experience at all before arrival, I simply googled how to teach and managed to get plenty of ideas that way without any difficulty.

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The boys enjoy Amanda’s ‘biscuit’ challenge activity!

Having fun is what counts!

I taught them about adjectives and nouns and tried to make it as interactive as possible. For example I asked them to stand up and describe each others clothes using adjectives. Then I used pictures from magazines, and had them write sentences using adjectives. They love being tested and their work being marked. They all speak pretty good English and like sweets being brought in although I used them as an incentive rather than just giving them as gifts. I tried a variety of different activities, from creative writing and spelling tests. I even included a biscuit challenge which they enjoyed. I concentrated on English as I am not a lover of Maths and there is a lot of material and ideas online for the primary school age group so you needn’t be short of ideas.

It’s not just teaching though, volunteers can also take the boys to the beach and to the fields for sports.

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The boys overjoyed with their new DVD player which Amanda bought after arrival in Mombasa.

Amanda raised money to buy things in need

I also raised a bit of money to take over for the young people and after asking what they were in need of I bought the boys new shoes, creams, coal, food, a DVD player, and lots more. The boys are so welcoming and amazing. They really respect you, and they have been through alot and need our support. I also took part in street work which was rather upsetting as I met young children begging in the streets, homeless people etc, but not once was I scared. The housemasters go to the streets regularly to encourage the boys to leave the streets, but they have to come  to the centre voluntarily to have a greater chance of success.

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Amanda bought special meals for the boys to break up the usual routine.

I bought everything for the boys there in Mikandani where the centre was, as everything is a lot cheaper. I do feel it’s good to raise money and use that to buy things when you’re there, which is so much easier.

I travelled alone to Mombasa, and I loved it. After work I was at the beach everyday, where I spent the afternoon at a hotel and had a buffet lunch for only around 6 pounds. I visited fort Jesus, a slavery museum, where the Kenyans were so helpful showing me round. I couldn’t miss out on a safari, I arranged my own 2 day trip and stayed at a lodge, it was amazing!

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Amanda spent many afternoons at the beach enjoying the Indian Ocean.

Amanda’s impressions of Kenya

I basically lived and travelled the way Kenyans did. Knowing the beach is just there is amazing too, as the Indian Ocean is beautiful! There are so many things to do, and you can work and enjoy yourself.

I would recommend anyone to take part in this placement as not only are you learning alot about the young people but also about the culture. The Kenyans are so friendly and it is a really safe place to visit.

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Stunning Kenyan landscapes whilst on safari.

I flew when it was kicking off in Nairobi, please do not let this put you off. Mombasa is beautiful, the young people and the people are beautiful. I have come back as a new person.

If you would like to get involved with the street kids in Mombasa – go for it!

Whether your interest lies in sport, teaching, social work, health education there is a warm welcome in Mombassa for everyone who would like to come and make a difference to the boys lives.

 

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