This trip was the first volunteering service that I have done in my life, on my own and in a new country. My purpose was to look for a new perspective of the world which I have found in Kenya. Since the first day of arrival, I was struck by how friendly the people were. They were extremely welcoming and eager to help. I spent two weeks to volunteer at an orphanage which is the home to around 20 kids. I have also met the founder of this orphanage, who is an incredible mother to 5 grown-ups of her own as well as the orphanage kids. I could see that under her care the kids are well-fed, happy and kind-hearted. Through their hard work, some of them also achieved very good level at national exams and brought pride to this humble orphanage. The kids that I have interacted with were shy in speaking in English at first but they were very happy to get to know me (which evidenced through giving lots of hugs and kisses and making plaits with my hair). Towards the end of the programme, I have got to know the character of each of the kids and their confidence has also grown a lot since.
I felt that I was well looked after throughout the programme, always accompanied by some of the school/ orphanage staff to and from the host home. They also introduced me to the local rugby games, church, cultural food as well as the festive activities there, which were memorable. During the weekends, I also took a visit to Massai Mara for the safari and the attractions that the city has to offer.
Overall, I felt that my impact wasn't a lot due to it being already a fairly established orphanage and the school (co-located with the orphanage) was closed for the holiday. However, I went with a mindset to learn and so just being able to put more smiles on the kids' face, contributing to their meals and helping out with chores were satisfying for me. This is only the beginning to many trips back to Kenya to visit the friends and kids there!