My name is Innocent Ochola Owuor and I chose to return to Kenya to volunteer with IHF. Initially, choosing how I would spend my summer break was a conundrum. However, one thing was certain, I had to spend some time in Kenya. The last time I had been back home was 3 years before. Working with IHF gave me a way to go back home and also contribute to a cause that was just. Currently, I am a sophomore in St. Lawrence University in Canton. The two years spent abroad made me feel disconnected from Kenya. Therefore choosing Nakuru as the center to apply to was an easy decision.
I arrived at the center in the darkness of the night. The bright blue houses, the smiles of the children and radiance of the sun were nowhere to be seen. However, the warm welcome was still there and it stayed all the way through my stay at the center. The center itself is not impressive but the individuals within it are; each with a unique personality that drives the center, spanning from the children to the staff. This diversity gives the center incredible character.
Spending the past few weeks at Nakuru has been a great insightful experience. I got to experience the joys and troubles of running a childcare nonprofit. I got to meet altruistic individuals who endure difficult conditions to make education possible for the children here. The continuous work ethic is inspiring. I have learned what it takes to selfless and to put one’s pride aside. I have learned that working with the disadvantaged is not about pity but about deference. It is about taking time to meet new personalities and appreciate them. What I’ll remember the most is not what I did but who I met as well as the stories and the jokes they told me. I came to appreciate that despite a person’s socioeconomic status they still possess interesting and pertinent stories to hear.
I encourage others to volunteer with IHF because you will encounter individuals and have an enlightening experience. You will learn that the lack of wealth or education does not make another person unapproachable. In fact, it will expand your perspicacity.
I enjoyed my stay with the children in Nakuru and I learned much more than I expected.