Volunteer Story by Nima Daivari
/VOLUNTEER /TEACHING /MOMBASA
Read Nima's Story from a teaching project:
I volunteered in Mombasa, Kenya at the Dickson Children's Centre. It's located in the less opulent part of Mombasa in between two areas known as Migadini and Port Reitz. From town you can take the Port Reitz mutatu and it will drop you off directly in front of the children's home.
The children are amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I went back a second time in the summer of 2008. I was there for 6 weeks in the summer of 2007 and then for 5 in 08. The days were totally different both times because of the school sessions the children were in. The daily activities ranged from teaching pre-school to trying to help the older kids with math problems that I most certainly was incompetent to do. I haven't done algebra since age 15 and now I was supposed to help them? Impossible. But the kids were gracious and thankful just to have us around. Also, Dickson is the sister project to Onesimus Boys Centre where teenage boys are rehabilitated from living on the streets to enter productive lives.
Volunteering is draining. Mombasa can be a very challenging city. Kenya can be an extremely frustrating nation. However, the experience of doing something so profoundly important and beneficial to these peoples' lives is immeasurable. Ultimately, you will reap significantly more benefits than frustrations. I have never experience the graciousness and gratitude that I experience in Kenya.
Read Nat King's humanitarian projects:
Natalie King lived in Kenya, working on various humanitarian projects throughout Africa. Once over there she realised the need for volunteers to help the poverty stricken communities in the slums.
Building a school:
Nat King lived with an african family in the Hilton slums a district of Nakuru. It was only a short walk to the school. With a group of volunteers, they managed to dig up a school floor, lay concrete and construct classrooms for the children living in the dumpsite. Alex and Ken managed The Walk children's church project, trying to get the children from the dumpsite into a school to be educated. Nat also enjoyed creating artworks, singing and dancing with the children. Each school i worked at was very different with their teaching techniques. I found at this school, the children really learn if they are taught their lessons through songs and participating in group activities.
Building a chicken house:
After building a school, she soon realised the children from the dumpsite were unable to concentrate due to lack of food. She soon bought all materials needed and gathered a team to help build a chicken house. There was 200 children whom lived in the dumpsite that were going to this school. With 300 hens, it enabled them to all have protein from the eggs in their diet and sell the remaining eggs for rice, maize and vegetables.
Climbing Mt Kenya to restore homes
After visiting the homes of the children living in the dumpsite slums, or shall i say a room no bigger than a car space built from sticks and volcanic rock with a sheet of tin for roof. I was devastated by the environment in which these children were living in. The children were covered in flies and soaked in urine. Many of these homes had leak roofs from the worn holes in the tin. Many families commute to this dumpsite daily, as the government is unlikely to take their homes from them if they are living there.
Myself and two warm hearted volunteers, Paul and Kayleigh trekked for 5 days up Mt Kenya raising funds to restore the roofs of some of these homes in the dumpsite. It was tough work building in the african heat with the flies and smells of the dumpsite, but seeing their happy faces appreciate what you have done is worth it all.
Fundraising Event and Loading of a container bound for Africa:
There were many months of planning and organising before i left for Africa. I found a large fundraising event was the best way to raise funds for building materials, children's school supplies and stationary, for food and mattresses and for shipping over a container to Mombasa, kenya filled with children's supplies. It was a very successful event after getting on radio and in newspapers, Nat was able to fill the container of children's clothes, books, computers, sewing machines, shoes, toys, stationary, uniforms and sports equipment in only 2 days thanks to the Eastern Suburbs and Hills district community of Sydney.
Humanitarian aid container project:
Her hardest project was the delivery of a 20ft container filled with children's supplies, although everything was paid for and all documentation was handed over to customs and clearing agencies. Nat soon saw the corruption of Africa with her own eyes. The wanted bribe money to release my container from the port when it was a donation to the orphanages in Mombasa. It took 6 weeks to finally get the container through after trips to Nairobi, daily visits to the port, clearing agency, customs and many phone calls to the high commissioner of kenya in Canberra. It was a nightmare and wouldn't recommend this as an option. I would try to buy everything over there if you can. Not to mention the hire of security through the chief, the unloading, sorting and distributing to the orphanages, schools and hospitals as a white girl. Many sleepless nights was worth it in the end, especially seeing children walk for miles to come and receive their first pair of shoes. Want joy on their little faces.
Natalie volunteered at New Hope Orphanage in Mishimoroni slums, teaching english, swahili, reading and writing to the young orphaned children. The days were also spent sewing children's torn uniforms, sorting the beans from sticks and dirt and fetching water. Many of these children had either lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, came from abusive families or had sick families who are unable to support them. These children have the warmest hearts filled with joy and they simply love to sing and dance for you.
Community aid work:
After delivering the container of children's supplies to orphanages, schools and hospitals around the Mombasa area, Nat found herself in a horrific children's centre. There was 59 children with no food and sleeping on concrete floors with no mattresses in one room. Mama Freda had taken those young children off the streets, although see didn't have much she thought they would be safer in her home, rather than sniffing glue or prostituting themselves. She had local residence educating these children daily. As Nat arrived at the centre delivering boxes of books, stationary, aid, clothes and blankets, she realised the need for urgent supplies. The next day she was up at 6am, hiring a truck and off she went to the local markets to purchase 3 months supply of beans, rice, maize, vegetables and mattresses. "You should have seen the look on Mama Fredas' face when i arrived at the centre, i could not help but cry with joy for them too. It was the first time i saw the children smiling, giggling and rolling around on those mattresses." says Natalie King.
She also traveled around the country doing community work for various orphanages and children's centre's such as Mission in Action- Nakuru baby orphanage, Namibia street boys, Faith children's centre, MOYO children's centre, Restoration and a children's centre in the slums of South africa.
Volunteering at the Lion Park just outside of Johannesburg was a great relaxing experience working with the white and tawny lion cubs at 4 months old. Nat did this wildlife project as part of her holiday, after working on all the above projects. It is not as rewarding as helping the children, but it is fun playing, feeding and caring for the cubs each day. You work with a great group of local south africans and get to educate the tourists about the lions, cubs, cheetahs, giraffes and hyenas.