It all started in 2011 when I took a group of Sixth Formers to volunteer at the Good Life Orphanage.6 trips later and I’m still coming back for more!

Now retired, I have my lovely husband Peter to share these very precious times. Volunteering at the GLO is such an amazing experience and so rewarding. It’s not just about the little things we accomplish whilst we are there but the wonderful human contacts we have built over the years that make us come back each year. This year we set off on New Year’s Day and spent 3 months with our GLO family. This time felt extra special having been away for 2 years due to Covid. We were welcomed like Kings!

Peter is a welder and built a welding workshop back in 2019. He taught all the older children from St Bernadette Mary school to weld. This was met with great enthusiasm by the students and the staff who were also keen to learn this useful skill. Some showed natural talent like Caleb, Victor and Frank. These teenagers are very good with their hands.

Caleb ended up doing a welding course and now has a trade he can use. Victor is still at secondary school but will no doubt become a welder, which will help him support his mum and siblings. Frank has just started a vocational course in mechanical engineering.Jackson, who used to work as an ascari ( security guard) at the GLO now has his own business welding thanks to his training with Peter in 2019. He now trains Victor and Frank on Saturdays.

My career was in secondary education. This led me naturally to focus on St Bernadette Mary school,which is a part of the GLO. This time round, my role was to do a mini ‘inspection’ so I observed all teachers and gave them feedback. It was heartwarming to witness how they have improved since the last lesson observations I carried out in 2019. As a result of their more pupil centered teaching, students now enjoy lessons where they participate actively. I also helped with staff interviews as we had to appoint a new Head Teacher and a Deputy Head Teacher. The school should continue to thrive in the good hands of the new appointees Samuel and Jessica.

When I’m not busy in school, I spend time with the mamas and aunties who have become great friends. These ladies are wonderful human beings, often living far away from their own families to dedicate their life to the wellbeing of the children. They have taught me how to make mahamri ( Kenyan doughnuts) and samosas and I cook spaghetti bolognaise for each house. They all love it. I showed them how to make aubergine fritters and aubergine curry as they always have an abundance of them in the shamba.

I am sometimes moved to tears by pure moments of joy: watching Michelle react to being serenaded by Peter singing’ Michelle ma belle’, watching Kevoo walk around unaided despite his disability, seeing Lawrence use his specially adapted bike to get to school. I love the friendship we enjoy with all the staff and the trust the children have in us, sharing their excitement or troubles.

If you’re thinking of volunteering, don’t hesitate! You will not regret it, like Peter & I you can visit one of the beautiful beaches nearby to recharge your batteries as it’s busy but very fulfilling.

We plan to come back each year whilst we’re still in good health. A big Asante Sana to all the wonderful staff and the beautiful children at the GLO for making our volunteering experience so rewarding.

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