Welcome to Kenya
I have fallen in love with Kenya. I have fallen in love with the people; the landscape; the culture; the food; the everything. 2 weeks was simply not enough and I already am so eager to get back as soon as I can.
I had varied expectations of the trip: I was nervous, excited and a bit uncertain of how it was going to be. I knew I’d love it, but I massively underestimated how big that love was going to end up being. If someone were to ask if I wanted to go back tomorrow, I would without even thinking.
I’ve been wanting to write this post since I got back and now 2 weeks back in the UK and I’m only just getting round to it! So many stories and memories were made that simply cannot be put into words. But I’m going to try my best!
If you could bottle up pure happiness you would get the children at Gladways Centre School in Kawangare near Nairobi, Kenya. The smiles on their faces and the joy from their laughter could make anyone so joyful. And that’s what it was: pure joy. Every single day us volunteers were greeted by children running up the muddy, rubbish filled path to the school. And every single day it melted my heart!
Whilst on placement at the school I was teaching English Class 6, 7 and 8, often, due to lack of classrooms, at the same time. My class room had age ranges from 11 to 17 which sometimes presented issues, but the school simply did not have the facilities to be able to teach the classes separate. Also due to the school being in the slums, some did not start school until a later age so there were older children in with the younger classes as they had never been to school before.
Having never taught a lesson in my life I was so nervous, but the children were so keen to learn I quickly relaxed. I was teaching English Grammar, most of the content I had no recollection of learning or it was so ingrained in my everyday that it was difficult to teach it. But I got there! The children seemed to enjoy my classes and every day I looked forward to marking their books and seeing my class again!
The Head of the School, Mary, is honestly the most inspiring person I have ever met in real life. A mother to 8 children she built and runs the school in the week and on the weekends she works as the equivalent of a Child Protection Officer in the Slums. On top of her 8 children she also has adopted some of the children at the school too as there are numerous orphans that attend. She was the most resilient and strong woman and it was a privilege to be able to have known her. It is lovely that we still keep in contact; she messages me with updates on the school and I get so excited whenever I see them.
Outside of our work placement we had the opportunity to do some excursions. As we were only there for 2 weeks we had just the middle weekend for our trips! We decided to do a Hell’s Gate National Park tour which was super fun. Hell’s Gate National Park, for those that don’t know, is where the Lion King films are based on! So we got to climb Pride Rock (FYI not the easiest climb so how the lions did it I have no idea!) and we all took a moment at the place where Mufasa was killed. This packed day consisted of a bike ride through the park (although for me it was a private bus tour because I tried the bikes and I am not a bike gal), a grove trek in the park which included some questionable rock climbing, a trip to the sulphur pools (my favourite part of the day despite getting a tad burnt) and a boat trip where we got to see hippos and giraffes!
What also made the trip amazing was the group we were with. The staff at Marafiki are honestly the best ever and I cannot recommend it more! They were all so much fun but at the same time super helpful for any problems that we might have! The group of volunteers were also great and it was really tough saying goodbye on our final day. We had all got on so well and its a shame we all live so far around the world, but I guess it’s an excuse for me to do some more travelling!
The sheer privilege I had to be able to go to this school and even to go to Kenya is something I am forever grateful for. The experiences I gained humble me and ground me. I was so fortunate to be able to attend the schools that I did, and to even have the chance to go to University. Currently the children at Gladyways Centre School only have access to a Primary School level of education, and this breaks my heart. So much potential stopped so soon, simply because they don’t have the resources or facilities to create a Secondary School.
This won’t be my last time in Kenya, I know it won’t. I need to go back to Gladways to see Mary and the children. I had the absolute best time and I highly recommend everyone to give something like it a go. It put so many things in perspective for me and I learnt so much about myself that another environment wouldn’t have given me.
If anyone has any questions about Marafiki and the work they do, or how you can do a trip yourself feel free to get in touch!!