Volunteer in an orphanage in Kenya
We support two orphanages with volunteers, one predominantly being a nursery care opportunity, with additional volunteer opportunities for market gardening and renovation, and the other being primarily a teaching project.
The larger of the two is a care home that opened in 2005 and now provides residential accommodation for over 100 vulnerable children aged 3 months to 17 years old. Due to deaths associated with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses there are children who have been orphaned at an early age. In addition there are children who are deemed vulnerable and at risk in their family homes and who do not have extended families to take care of them so they live here.
Most of children are of school age and follow long school hours at external schools, 8am – 5pm weekdays, and 8 am – 12pm on Saturdays. On Sundays they have church until 1pm. The boys play football Sunday afternoon, while the girls have less organised activities.
In April, August and November the schools close and so there are a host of children at the orphanage without any recreational plan, other than the occasional trip to the beach. Volunteers can be of huge support when they can bring extra-curricular activities at this time.
As at March 2016 the orphanage was supporting 7 children aged 0-2 years old and one disabled child, all of whom would benefit from volunteer support during the day as they have just one nursery nurse to look after them while also performing other duties.
The project is trying to grow their own food and there is scope for a volunteer with some agricultural experience to work there and try and re-start their market garden. They previously had a volunteer who helped start growing vegetables, bananas, passion fruit. This would be extremely helpful in the long term, especially getting the children involved and if one could help transfer the skills necessary to sustain growing in the long term.
The girls dormitories burned down in Dec 2015 and there is an attempt to rebuild these, and improve what is generally a sprawling and somewhat dilapidated site. This would suit a couple of volunteers wanting to help in renovation work, painting and rebuilding.
By contrast the second orphanage we support is a smaller, brighter and more ‘attractive’ location, arranged in one large square, reasonably well kept and surrounded by beautiful flowers. It has a smaller, intimate feel.
It is a relatively small orphanage offering shelter to 42 children (2016), roughly 50% girls/boys. It has developed a community primary school, however, so while some of the residential children go out for their education, the orphanage offers a busy and colourful learning environment for some 50-60 children, (10 from the orphanage, the rest from the area), of which c.30 are in their early years.
The school provides the opportunity for volunteers to act in a teacher support, or teacher role, particularly for the large number of younger ones.
Volunteers staying for over a month are invited to work in both orphanages providing support in two very different settings.
Both orphanages predictably have limited funds or resources and volunteer help is needed to feed, educate and play with the children. The range of activities required means that multiple opportunities exist for a proactive volunteer prepared to roll their sleeves up and make a difference.
There is a large outdoor space but little supervision or provision of activities. Children mostly occupy themselves. Volunteers can really help by organising activities, teaching ball games, football, basketball, or group games but note there are few resources available, so bringing out a few items helps.
Similarly volunteers can help with arts and craft activities, with the forethought of what resources may be required.
There is a room with several relatively modern computers that can be used, so teaching IT skills is even possible, if that is something you have experience in.
Of course teaching at the nursery/primary level is also needed but support to the older children who may need help with homework to catch-up with their peer group is another requirement.
As is so often the case, the staff in this project do a good job in providing all the basics such as meals and basic education in a well-disciplined manner, however they lack the resources and time to make life a richer experience for these children, in particular those in the nursery.
Volunteers can really have a positive impact, but recreating some of the activities and clubs they might have benefited from in their own schooling, and by giving extra care and educational support to individuals where needed.
I think Outreach International is a great company for people travelling and doing volunteering work for the first time, Student, Kenya