My first volunteer trip has come to an end, I have bittersweet feelings about leaving Kenya. Life is a lot different than it is in Canada and it took some time getting used to but once I got over the culture shock I found such beauty in the land, culture, food and people. My life got touched by so many beautiful people. I got to live with the best family who took me in as their own and showed me the Kenyan way of life. It was the most authentic way to travel Kenya.
Kenya landscape is breathtaking, the red soil, the flat top Acacia trees, the abundant wildlife, breathtaking! Even the small shops on the side of the road were full of colour and life. I loved walking along the railway tracks and seeing chameleons and baboons. I got to go on some hikes in Ndeiya with friends and it has to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Big open plains, surrounded by hills with red soil. Maize fields for miles, it’s so quiet and beautiful.
Kenyans are very laid back, it was a hard adjustment when I first arrived. It was weird adjusting to taking more breaks and relaxing. North American culture is so much about working long hours with minimal breaks, it was a treat once I got used to it. You can also guarantee that you’ll always be served tea and biscuits when you go to someones home, they’re very hospitable. You personally greet every person when you walk into a room by fist bumping, it’s intimidating at first but it’s a nice gesture when you get used to it.
The food is amazing (except ugali ha ha), everything is bought and prepared fresh everyday, my favourite food was Mokimo- which is mashed potatoes with corn, pureed pumpkin leaves, and diced green onions. My least favourite dish was Ugali, which is maize flower and water mixed together to make something that looks like mash potatoes but tastes like nothing. They have a stew like dish with chopped up potatoes and green bananas, I would have never put those two foods together but it’s amazing! They get so creative with what they have.
I loved the work I got to do, from redoing a classroom for special needs kids to teaching at Mutuini Hope Centre. I learnt so many new skills and passions that I’ll continue to nurture throughout life. I loved the kids at the Hope Centre, they were so full of life and playful. They sing everything, my favourite was when you tell them to spread out during PE and they start singing “Free space, my space. Free space, my space” they would sing forever if they could. I also loved when I’d walk into the classroom in the morning and say “good morning” they respond with “good morning teacher Leah, how are you?” in unison, it’s so darn cute!
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I think everyone needs to go to volunteer once in their life. You learn so much about life in another country and get to help those who need help. It’s so fulfilling. It’s the little things like talking to someone about what life is like in your country and them sharing how it’s like in theirs, you learn from each other. I’ve grown so much and learnt even more. I’m so thankful for my experience, so thank you Because All Children Matter, Deanne and Johnson for the opportunity!