First I’m going to say that I’m so thankful for this volunteer opportunity, it’s given me such an authentic Kenya experience. Getting to live and work in communities completely different to what I’m used to, getting to live like a Kenyan with bucket showers, hand washing clothes, squat toilets, fresh Kenyan food and so much more. I’ve learned more than I ever could have thought.
Even though I’ve loved my experience I’ve also had a tough couple weeks. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety my whole life, and unfortunately I couldn’t hide from it in Kenya. My mind started playing tricks with me and telling me that I wasn’t doing any good and I was being more of a burden than help and it started to make me spiral. I didn’t want to go to work or leave the house. I started questioning if I really should be in Kenya or if I should go home early.
I went on a last minute getaway to Mombasa to figure out what I was going to do, I talked about it lots with my parents and friends and everyone said the same thing “go home if you want to but you’ll regret not finishing your volunteering and commitment to Kenya”. As hard as it was I knew they were right and I tried to use my time to try to find things I appreciated about Kenya rather than focus on the things I was having problems with. I love the hospitality, the colourful tuk tuks and buildings, the food, and all the people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
When I got back from Mombasa I went back to Mutuini Hope Centre and felt like I was back at home. All the stress and hesitation I was feeling vanished and I felt like I was back with my people, doing jobs that I felt like were actually helping a community. I’m now assistant teaching a PP1 (kindergarten) class and back to delivering lunch to the seniors and I’m so happy.
I always thought the saying ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ was sappy and generic but it’s so true. I was ready to throw in the towel and head home but I stuck it through instead and now I feel like I’m more thankful for my opportunities and I’m working harder in my jobs to do the best I can. I’m happy that in a country that is so different to what I’m used to I’ve found a home where I feel welcome and comfortable.