Volunteering for this project changed how I see the world, and I don’t think I can give it a bigger rap than that.
If you are looking for a grass-roots organisation where you can make a tangible, visible difference every single day, this is it. This was exactly the type of volunteer experience that I had searched for for almost ten years – a small but powerful organisation where I could play a hands-on role in actively helping people, especially children.
Every day at Gabriel’s was different, and the variety was so stimulating, and gave me a really broad sense of both the problems at play in the Kaptembwe slum and their possible solutions. From teaching songs about frogs to the children in the school, to cleaning out the house of a man who had lost his wife to AIDS, to being part of the most beautiful and powerful women’s meeting with the sewing students, every task or activity was rewarding.
There was an incredible sense of community around the centre, and I felt not only safe but treasured. I can’t speak highly enough of Susan, the director, and Christopher, the operations manager – they are caring, wise, incredibly knowledgable about the local situation, and have the trust and admiration of the local people. They were able to show us how to use our time and money to literally change the course of people’s lives, and were adaptable and accommodating of our areas of interest, and how we wanted to spend our time. They encouraged us to travel and see the country, which in itself was a gift. On one of our trips away (to our utter disbelief!) our group successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
I cannot wait to return, and am particularly excited about the possibilities that will be opened up when Gabriel’s moves to its new premises, where we will have the opportunity to help change the lives of even more women and children, and to develop ongoing and meaningful relationships with them. As well as more classrooms and school facilities, the new building will house a rape and refuge centre for women, and volunteers will be able to stay there as well.
There isn’t a day that passes when I don’t think of the Nakuru Kenya Family Project – of the lessons it taught me about humility and generosity and the huge amount that can be achieved when good people have the resources to reach out to people and places that would otherwise be forgotten. If you are even vaguely considering volunteering here, I urge you to take the plunge.