From the moment I arrived at Mombasa airport and was met by Abbas I knew that volunteering in Kenya was going to be an unforgettable experience. Upon arrival at the orphanage I was introduced to each house and the family I would be staying with (Kilroe house). Mama Tuta was most welcoming, labelling me as ‘her new son’ and making me feel like part of their family. I was pleasantly surprised at the facilities for volunteers, the volunteer house is very clean and has a large fan to keep you cool and mosquito nets.
Most of my volunteering was done at the school which is connected to the orphanage via the farm, and educates around 300 children from the orphanage and the local area. The teachers I worked with were keen to help me out wherever they could and gave me some tips about communicating with the children (Kenyans struggle with the scouse accent!). The school building is fantastic when compared to other buildings in the local area and it is wonderful to see the educational impact it has had on the local community.
My roles at the school involved coaching P.E sessions on a daily basis and working with the school’s sports team to prepare for their first tournament. The students are impeccably behaved and it is clear to see how much they appreciate the education they are receiving.
When I was not working at the school or the orphanage there was time on Fridays to visit the local market in Mombasa, which I would recommend any volunteer to go and see. You can find every fruit and vegetable imaginable and as in most cases in Kenya the prices are negotiable. I managed to get more fruit than I’ve ever bought for the equivalent of a couple of English pounds, bargain!
Sundays are also a very good day for volunteers. In the morning I went to church with the family, it was really good to see how religion provides such a sense of togetherness especially in areas of poverty.
In the afternoon you can then go to the local feeding station which provides food once a week for up to 2000 children (that’s a lot of food!). Depending on how many volunteers attend it can be hard work, so be prepared to put a good shift in. This was one of the most eye opening and rewarding experiences of my trip and would recommend it to everybody that is visiting the GLO.
The children and babies at the orphanage are all a pleasure to be around, they are extremely well mannered and will always keep you occupied by playing games and singing songs. It is clear to see what a fantastic job the mamas do in caring for the children, and their dedication is reflected by their non-stop hard work and love they show for every child.
My last day at the orphanage was quite emotional as I had become part of the Kilroe family and it was not easy saying goodbye. The children sang goodbye songs and prayed for me to have a safe journey home and visit again in the future.
Volunteering at GLO was undoubtedly the best experience of my life and I know that I will return to see the families and staff to relive the experience in the near future. The hard work and Kevin and Mary in providing a home and education for so many children is truly inspirational, and anyone that has the opportunity to see the positive impact they are having on the community should take it. Asante sana!