My Favorite Memory: The simple things, catching butterflies, moths, and grasshoppers with the children. Going on a trip to Nairobi with the school’s futbol team and playing in the fields for hours. The ferry rides to and from work were always very relaxing.
I was surprised that….: The culture in itself. at first I felt like everyone was walking to close to me, not giving me my personal space. But I realized that that was the culture. The ferry rides were always packed full of people.
The most difficult thing I experienced was…: It was hard to see the poverty first hand. On any street you can find homeless women and their children, disabled adults, abandoned children, and teenagers and kids on drugs. It was really sad knowing that I couldn’t do anything for them. Also, it was difficult to watch parents not able to buy their medicines at the clinic due to the expense.
My best received lesson…: Smile J. The culture of Kenya is completely different from the US and takes some time to acclimate. But seeing the faces and bright grins of the children and the workers at the clinic brightens your day. There is no place for me to be upset or frustrated over something little, where the kids at the school aren’t allowed to complain. They love each other as a family. It is really something quite special.
Tip for future volunteers… (Clothing, travel, personal items, donations, sightseeing etc):
Clothing: Working at the clinic, I felt comfortable wearing long pants (such as hiking pants). I found scrubs to be hot and not breathable. It is very hot and humid in Mombasa all of the time. In Nairobi it is cooler, a place you will want a sweatshirt.
Travel: La Mu, Malindi, Holler Park, 40 Thieves, Nairobi. I went on a safari in the Masai Mara.
Donations: I brought donations from home. If I had to do it again I would bring money to buy donations in country. The medical supplies that they use are more basic than those in the states. The supplies I brought were too high tech for their knowledge and uses.
Personal Paragraph (Testimonial):
I have seen friends’ pictures from their trips abroad, full of smiles and children. But I never really saw into any of them, not seeing any stories behind the pictures. Coming to Kenya I have pictures of my own, with stories and memories plastered in my mind. With personalities glowing through their grins.
I came into this trip with no expectations, something that helped me a lot. There was no way to prepare for this trip, in terms of what to expect. The culture was something I had never experienced before. Being this trip was the first time that I had been out of the country, let alone by myself, I had no one to depend on. But that was what helped me adjust and experience the culture completely and fully. You literally are thrown into the culture, no baby steps. That is the cool thing about coming to another country.
I ended up working at the school and clinic, which is something I really wanted to do. The children and workers at the clinic were always full of energy and smiles. I always was welcomed with hugs and stories about their day. I was pulled into their classrooms begging to be taught anything.
It was such an awesome experience that I am still processing everything that happened. I am sure that this trip will be never forgotten.
How would you rate your experience working with the ABV staff, both in the USA, and in-country? Very good.
How would you describe your accommodation ( ie: host family, on-site, shared housing etc). Good
Are you willing to speak to other potential ABV volunteers? Yes
Shannon Volunteer in Mombasa, Kenya