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Testimonial ++ Volunteer ++ Kenya

Away From Germany for True Journey: Volunteer Teaching in Kenya

"Sad yet excited; being away from home was never really a thing for me but I was so curious about what the world had to offer. Sometime later, I was a volunteer teaching in Kenya, and I didn't regret it."

The First Impression

After having endured the turbulent flight to Nairobi we finally arrived at the airport late at night. We were picked up and brought to our host family. Nairobi by night seemed to be really nice; the streets and the buildings reminded us of Europe. But the more we departed from the city (our host family lived about 45-minutes-drive away from Nairobi center), the more we were able to see the real Africa: streets in a really bad condition, deep pot-holes, chaotic traffic, run-down huts, rubbish everywhere. On the other hand, I was shocked about the housing conditions being even worse than I’ve imagined it to be – on the other hand I was fascinated by the crowded streets full of Kenyans trying to sell food or transporting heavy things on their heads. I felt like having entered another world – like wandering around in a dream.

Life as Part of the Family

Our host family welcomed us very friendly. When we arrived, the dinner was already prepared and we were bombed with questions about our travel and about the German living conditions – but that was exactly the thing I loved about my host family: very open-minded, always a smile on their face and very interested in the German culture. Before starting my trip I really worried about the security in Kenya – especially in the poorer regions around Nairobi; lots of friends were very concerned and you can find a travel warning in almost every guide book. But our host family managed to make us feel secure as they always accompanied us leaving the house; so we were never on our own. The flat we lived during our stay was really nice equipped and we felt comfortable from the very beginning. Furthermore, the welcoming surrounding by our host family really helped us to immerse into the Kenyan culture so that we could get used very fast to . . .

The Food (Ugali, Shabati, Mandazi, and Co)


Different eating time schedule (In the morning and by noon, you hardly eat anything, while for the dinner, you would have a big feast)


Different Drinks (You only drink Kenyan tea)


Different Hygiene


Terms and Conditions ('Toilet' means a hole on the ground, 'Taking a Shower' means pouring yourself a bucket of cold water over your head)


Different form of religion (in Kenya, most people are part of several sects and live right after the rules of the same)


Different Climate (There's a permanent change of temperature up to 10 degrees Celcius)


Different Culture and Living Conditions (rural and urban)

Teaching at School

Since we had no guidelines on how to teach these kids I just enjoyed the school so much doing riddles with the kids, playing several games, teaching them German songs. The children were so enthusiastic and always asked us at break if we’d come to their class next. They were really looking forward to seeing us every single day, touching our skin or stroke our hair. That just touched me in such a deep way and now – two weeks after my return back to Germany – I’m missing the kids, their lively cheerfulness, their singing, and dancing. According to that my farewell was really hard; on the last day some of the children had prepared a little performance for us and every teacher had given a short speech. As most of the kids can’t even afford to buy their own exercise book we bought one for each of them in the end and gave them some sweeties. Some of the kids sang “Viel Glück und viel Segen” in canon (which we had learned them) to farewell us – it was very sad and moving for all of us.

Conclusion

This experience had been a lot of ups and downs for me. There were a lot of moments where I felt like not being able to cope with the foreign culture, the huge amount of distress I saw or the lack of security (especially in the week of the assassination and the hostage-taking of Somalia terrorists in Nairobi). Nevertheless, it definitely was the ups that predominated my stay in Kenya: I’m just incredibly grateful and happy for having had the opportunity to gain such an experience. I really had the feeling that I really achieved something and above all: the gratefulness of the kids will let you forget every negative experience as well as all the little worries of life.

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