Tell us a little about Flying Kites and your role at the company.
Julianna: Flying Kites was started when a little boy living in an overcrowded orphanage in the slums of Nairobi challenged a small group of volunteers to see him as a child, and not as an orphan.
Orphans need bowls of rice. Children need families, people to invest in the quality of their education and the possibility of their dreams. They need nourishment and inspiration and adventure and security; they need to be shown that the world cares about who they are and who they will become.
At Flying Kites, we believe in children.
And so, in the Aberdares Mountains of Kenya, we have built a Home and Leadership Academy for orphaned children who would otherwise have nowhere to turn. Through our emphasis on exemplary care, education, and compassion, children who have suffered the devastating effects of poverty are being empowered to change the world.
Believe with us.
How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?
Julianna: Three years ago, I began working in the field of international volunteering as the Volunteer Coordinator for Flying Kites. Since then, we have transformed the volunteer program from one of short term engagement and limited impact, to one defined by the deep, long lasting dedication of participants and community- altering impact. Our ambassadors literally drive the organization forward and upward and it is a privilege to work with them.
What makes Flying Kites unique?
Julianna: Flying Kites is unique in its acheivement of creating a home- in every sense of the word- for children who had no where else to turn. The children at Flying Kites are loved, nurtured, and educated to the same degree you'd want for your own children. They are given the opportunity to be unique, to adventure, to be curious and active and compassionate. Flying Kites may care for orphan children, but it does not run an orphanage in any typical sense of that word.
In your experience, what characteristics make a good international volunteer?
Julianna: First and foremost, humility. Alongside humility, you must possess a vast openness and eagerness to learn. International volunteers absolutely must be ready to serve others- to truly put others' needs before their own and do so with a sensitivity to the limitations of their knowledge. Someone I respect greatly recently reminded me to be a learner and always listen when told you don't know anything. I think that is an incredibly important attitude to maintain when volunteering, and especially when volunteering abroad.
What does the future hold for Flying Kites?
Julianna: The future of Flying Kites is as bright as the smiles of the children we care for. I believe that Flying Kites will continue to strengthen it's ability to deliver family style care and high quality education to orphaned children, and within the next few years, be able to expand its reach to more children in desperate need of a home, support and opportunity.
I also hope Flying Kites can continue to strengthen its Oasis network through which many childcare institutions in Nairobi, Kenya have begun to share their best practices, explore new funding resources, and work to a higher standard of care in partnership with each other.