Social work and healthcare volunteer dealing with sexual abuse, gender based violence and healthcare
Our unique contacts in Watamu region have established a range of opportunities for volunteers interested in community healthcare and social work. Volunteers would focus on one project or a combination of organisations during their placement, depending on their preference, experience and duration.
One community based organization (CBO) focuses on social work, human rights, sexual abuse and gender based violence; issues that are all too common in many parts of the world including Kenya where the abuse of minors by family members is a recurring issue.
Led by one local who received basic legal training, the project continues its attempts to grow by educating community members to reach into wider sections of the community. Training, administering and supporting them in this setting remains a challenge. They seek to educate women and children in particular on their basic rights, the law and the system that is there to support victims.
They promote intolerance of issues that too frequently go ignored, training teachers and community members on how to spot signs of abuse and educating victims and leaders on what they should do in such instances.
They work with local authorities and rescue centres on intervention, providing residential care, counselling and rehabilitation services, helping victims move back into the community and using vocational training as a means to developing a brighter future. This is particularly relevant for those girls who become pregnant through abuse and for whom reintegration is challenging.
But all of this formal sounding structure is humbly delivered and led by a small number of dedicated community members who lack experience, resources and capacity. Volunteers with skills and experience of dealing with these issues would be especially welcomed, as would volunteers who have an interest in this area of community work and who can add capacity and general skills to the project (e.g. basic IT).
A separate community based organization takes a similar approach to educating the community on preventative healthcare and family planning, using community leaders to educate women and children on basic hygiene, sanitation, vaccinations and the proactive use of clinics for standard check-ups and early interventions.
They have a focus group that works on educating people on ‘jiggers’, a flea that invades your feet and lays eggs to disastrous effects, which can be dealt with by some simple preventative measures, or healed by use of simple herbal remedies.
They are supported by the Toms for shoes programme and so for 2 months of the year are desperately trying to distribute volumes of shoes to the community (one of the simplest ways to prevent jiggers).
Volunteers with experience or interest in public healthcare are invited to support this varied programme of activities, to lend experience, skills and/or capacity to the endeavours of the current team.
Volunteers may wish to focus on one CBO or could potentially work across the two.
The role of volunteers will depend on their experience, interests and aptitude, and the varied activities and schedules of the separate CBOs.
Those with more experience may be suited to take on a mentoring role to the project team, providing advice and transferring knowledge and skills after gaining an understanding of the challenges and context of the programmes.
Less experienced volunteers will undoubtedly be able to lend their capacity and basic skills, such as IT know how, in a variety of ways.
There are few formal roles in these loose community groups, just a shared vision of what they are trying to achieve, and a genuine openness and desire to adopt the knowledge, energy and support of committed volunteers who share a passion for their mission.
Many of the activities undertaken by these small community groups are basic but relatively bold and progressive when seen in their local context.
The skills, capacity and interest of international volunteers brings a degree of real and perceived credibility to this type of project and helps accelerate the progress of the projects, both the outcomes and the profile of the project.
Be prepared for anything, no-one can explain the shock of seeing the project/poverty for the first time and no-one knows what each day will bring, so throw yourself into it and embrace everything –, Student, Kenya