This post was written by Emma Higham, a recent volunteer who came out and spent 2 weeks at The Good Life Orphanage. Thanks Emma!

I would be lying if I was to say I wasn’t a little apprehensive about my trip to Kenya and the Good Life Orphanage. I had never been to Africa before and on route to the airport, armed with so many TV fuelled pre-conceived notions; I did wonder if I would be met by a resounding sense of hopelessness.

As we pulled through the gates all of my apprehensions were immediately dispelled. We were met with the warmest welcome, the hugest hugs and the widest smiles.

The Good Life Orphanage is a bright and happy place. It has been very intentionally set up to have a home like feel to it, a far cry from the images of cold institutions that word Orphanage often conjures up.

You very quickly get a sense from the house Mothers and Aunties that they really do see this as a home and the children as their family, which is what makes their welcome all the more touching. Volunteering at the Good Life Orphanage is like being invited to share in someone’s home and life, playing, dancing, singing and eating with this wonderfully unique extended family.

Our days were spent helping the Mothers and Aunties with the children and chipping in with some of the daily chores of the house. We went into the school on site and ran some art classes with the help of the teachers (finger painting, collage and general mess making!) and most days organised some kind of wonderfully chaotic play activity once school had finished for the day.

You really do get to know each of the children for the amazing individuals they are and get a strong sense that this individuality is something that is both revered and actively encouraged by everyone involved with the Orphanage.

The early evenings were a special time; Sat on the porch in the warm evening air we would sing with and listened to the older children and learnt some Swahili to boot. With the little ones all tucked up in bed, we would drink hot, sweet chai and swap stories with the Mothers and Aunts about our vastly different cultures, a real and amazing insight into the rich a varied culture of Kenya, that you simply would not get stuck behind the gates of one of the luxury hotel complexes close by.

In contrast, our trip meant we also saw the other side to Africa, extreme poverty, disease and corruption that seems both ingrained in and routine to everyday life.

Certainly too, stories of the shocking conditions in some other Orphanages were a complete contrast to the caring and safe environment we found at the Good Life.

The scale of the problem in Africa is undoubtedly huge and incredibly complex, but the Good Life Orphanage is and oasis of light and hope. It is testament to the fact that you can make a difference to people’s lives and demonstrates and real and lasting commitment to both its children and the local community.

It is so hard to sum up my time volunteering at the Good Life Orphanage in just a few short paragraphs. But what I can say with ease is that it was an incredible, life changing experience and I can’t wait to go back!