I am a 17-year-old student from the United Kingdom. This was my second time in Kenya, although my first was just a stop off for one day on the way to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro. Kenya is the friendliest place I have ever visited with a lot of people coming up to you in the street just to say ‘hello’ and ‘welcome to Kenya’. Projects Abroad made the travel very easy, organising flights and setting me up with other volunteers on my flight.
I met the other volunteers on my flight at Heathrow airport and we started to get to know each other over a Starbucks breakfast. When we landed in Nairobi a Projects Abroad member of staff met us and took us to the guesthouse where we would be staying for one night before travelling to Nakuru. In the morning we met more volunteers who arrived during the night. They were mostly from the UK with a few other nationalities scattered in amongst us. They were all very friendly and likeminded people who were around my age.
The journey to Nakuru was about a four-hour drive in a minibus where I was able to chat to some more volunteers and get to know them better. In all, our entire group was about 20 volunteers who all got to know each other very well by the end of the two weeks.
Once in Nakuru we went to the Projects Abroad headquarters where we were given a briefing and taken into the town to get any essentials like phones, sim-cards and to exchange money. Once everyone was satisfied with their purchases, we were taken to our host family. I was nervous about this part as we found out whom we were living with for the next two weeks.
My Host Family and Placement
My fellow volunteers – Ramy and Tank - and I were staying in the same house and felt welcomed by our host mother very quickly. We were shown around the house and made to feel at home. Our room contained a bunk bed and a single bed and was very clean. The house was fitted with all the essentials - western toilet, hot shower, hot food for two meals a day and mosquito nets. Our host mother had four sons, one of which was living with her while we were there and a grandson living with her permanently. They were both very friendly and I am still in contact with the son.
Our placements were very interesting and varied, which was not what I expected. I thought we would be in the same hospital for the two weeks but in reality we went to many different places including state and private hospitals, maternity hospitals, schools, orphanages and more.
Our involvement varied depending where we were. For example at a school we played with the kids who ranged between three and ten years old all day and treated them for ringworm, minor cuts and also gave them quarterly de-worming tablets. In the hospitals we mainly shadowed doctors but also got hands on - one of the volunteers in our group got to weigh new-born babies who were minutes old. In the maternity hospital we witnessed three births in one morning and even one 16-year-old girl who gave birth on the way into the delivery room.
During times when we weren’t on placement we were taken to tourist attractions such as Lake Baringo, the Lake Nakuru national park and a Masai market. The trips were all very well organised and were very enjoyable, giving us a sense of both the real side of Kenya and the tourist side.
The natural beauty spots that we went to were stunning - from the wildlife in the national park to the view into the crater in which Nakuru lies. The Masai market contained all the souvenirs you could shake a stick at, at reasonable prices (after a bit of bartering).
In conclusion, I enjoyed my volunteering experience very much and didn’t want to leave by the end of the two weeks. I have made friends that I hope to keep in contact with for a long time and would recommend the trip to anyone who likes a bit of adventure. The experience taught me life lessons that I hope will come across when I speak throughout my interviews to study medicine.
If you get the opportunity to go on one of these trips, seize it, as it will open your eyes to a whole world full of experiences that you just can’t see from the comfort of your home.