Six months ago, before I visited Kenya, I chatted on the phone with the volunteer coordinator of Flying Kites Oasis. I didn't know then that our conversation would lead to a life-changing experience.
Not just for me. Oasis has changed the lives of numerous orphaned children in the greater Nairobi area. Helping tackle the poverty and day-to-day challenges many children in Kenya face - clean water and food, a bed to sleep in, a safe home - Oasis is linking up with children's homes in and around the slums of Nairobi to help create a safe and healthy environment for their children.
For me, it was wonderful that Oasis gave me autonomy to connect with the children's home for which I volunteered, St. Catherine in the slum of Kibera, because I could work directly with the home and children. Oasis set up the relationship and allowed me to foster it. While I was there, I taught classes to the kids directly; I helped organize details of a long-term sustainability plan involving the building of a greenhouse; I played football and danced and learned and spoke at an end-of-term ceremony; and I developed friendships with many of the staff of St. Catherine that will last a lifetime.
Oasis gave me the opportunity to do all that. I was never shackled by too many "rules," but I also never felt abandoned. The staff would check in with me and I with them, bouncing questions, ideas, jokes off of one another. We found occasion to be social as well. The experience was a holistic one because they allowed me to make it so. I loved the fact that I could work directly with the children's home to best serve its needs.
Perhaps the most important thing FK Oasis did for me was support me in my continuing endeavors with St. Catherine. As a result of my experience I committed to fundraising for St. Catherine to help them realize their dream of building a greenhouse and becoming self-sustainable. Oasis has supported me in this project, which has lasted and will last much longer than my "official" volunteer stay in Kenya. I am in continuous contact with Oasis, which is more than willing to work with me as I continue my own ventures with St. Catherine.
I look back on that phone call and marvel at everything that happened as a result of it. Life may be timing, and maybe I just happened on this opportunity -- but Oasis was there to answer the call.