Volunteer overseas teaching in an orphanage in Kenya
This is an urban orphanage offering the most basic care and schooling to orphans, street kids and children from the local area. The mission is “to support, encourage and give skills to orphans and vulnerable children in the community, to be of value to themselves and society”.
The project started in 2005, when a local church group worked together to provide some care to orphans from the slum. They started with a handful of children and now teach 125 children and offer full time care/accommodation for 75.
The orphanage is led by Jacinta and Pastor Joseph (although there is no strong Christian mission) and Moses is a kindly head teacher who has been there five years.
There are 12 classes, from primary school age to secondary school. They have only 2 full time members of staff and 6 local volunteer staff, meaning there is always a gap in teaching resources. The volunteers do not get any meaningful salary, and inevitably move on when/if they can get a paid teaching job elsewhere.
The conditions are clean and basic, but challenging. The orphanage and classes are all crammed into a small location in a very poor area. Classes are in dark, cramped spaces and the children’s sleeping area is a tightly packed set of bunks. Nevertheless, the children are being offered education. They are positive, very courteous and engaged, and welcome the schooling and interest of international volunteers who help fill the gap in teaching resources.
Any student volunteer who has passed through a good education could help lead lessons in this school. It will suit gap year volunteers or teachers who have a mature approach and a reasonable level of independence.
The volunteer will teach to primary and/or secondary school children. Volunteers lead lessons, particularly in English and maths, but also in other subjects. The programme for each volunteer will be agreed locally with Moses and Jacinta, based on their experience and confidence levels, and volunteers will be accompanied in lessons to start with.
Lessons are to small class sizes in 30-45 minute sessions, typically delivered from a text book. The head teacher shares what exercise they are focusing on and the volunteer is able to lead the class through this.
Few people have discretionary time to give these children – creating games, activities and playing sports in the available break time and after school will quickly bring a smile to the faces of children who have a lot of challenges in their lives.
Volunteers with relevant experience can also offer ideas to the staff to develop the school.
Volunteers directly support and enhance the children’s learning by leading classes and giving 121 coaching. You add capacity to the teaching staff helping all the classes have lessons and giving the children more time to learn and develop. Volunteers give the children confidence through their engagement and encouragement and importantly you can make their lives (and yours) more fun through recreational activities.
This is not a holiday! It’s an adventure, a learning experience and for me a once in a lifetime opportunity. If given the chance I would go back and do it all again, Student, Kenya