Volunteering In Africa in a special needs school
Join one of the few special needs school in Kenya, striving to provide education and vocational skills to children with who are deaf, or suffer from intellectual or physical disabilities. The intention of the school is summed up in the school motto “disability is not inability”.
It operates as part of a mainstream school, but with a severe lack of funding and resources. The initial struggle in Kenya is to bring children with special needs out into the open, as so many are hidden or contained in the home through a misplaced sense of shame. Schools such as this one are helping promote inclusiveness, attracting children from 100kms away to receive education and join in life more fully, but there is a long way to go. Volunteers joining this programme can do a lot to boost the profile and approach to disability.
The children are resident, living in sparse conditions, with the girls lacking a proper dormitory and being forced to sleep in a cramped classroom. The boys have recently had a dormitory built for them by the state, but have not had the toilets and washrooms constructed, so continue to live in challenging conditions.
However, the positive energy of progress fills the school, fed by the commitment of the staff and the natural buoyancy of the students. Local sponsors help supplement the diet of the children, and the provision of a few computers and an internet connection helps create new horizons for the children.
But they need help. When we recently met with the teaching staff they were enthused by the prospect of volunteers coming to help them and identified a wide range of needs that volunteers working in Kenya could satisfy.
Volunteers with professional knowledge of teaching deaf children or speech therapy for deaf children would be welcome.
Volunteers with modest art skills would be a huge hit. The teachers would love to have key learning aids painted on the walls of the school, as well as providing lessons and art recreation to the children.
A volunteer who could help teach the children (and staff) about the internet and some basic IT skills would be particularly relevant. Computers and the internet could be a lifeline for the deaf children in particular, yet the teachers do not know how to use a computer and so the children just ‘play’ on the donated computers without understanding the potential.
Any volunteers who can bring vocational skills such as baking, arts & crafts or tailoring skills could help transfer skills that will potentially provide an alternative form of income in later years.
And any volunteer who can help enliven the students during their day, after school and during the weekend would be warmly welcomed. The children are living away from home, in sparse conditions, with caring teaching staff who just do not have the resources, time and energy to provide a broader programme of activity that engages the children in sport, games and hobbies.
Volunteers on a placement for 2 months or more can combine their volunteering experience in Voi with working at one of our other projects on the coast at Watamu.
The wide range of potential volunteer activities means there is huge scope for volunteers wanting to work in this special needs school in Kenya.
Volunteers might work alongside teachers, or work more independently providing their own activities, both during the normal working day, or after school and at weekends.
This is the sort of grass roots initiative that is entirely flexible and welcoming of the impact a volunteer could make.
This project is a true example of volunteering in Africa at its best – where the proactivity, commitment and modest skills of volunteers can overcome some of the local challenges
This humble school is starting to deliver education to the children with special needs. The children are resident and you can play a huge part in enriching their school environment and learning, providing stimulating activities that teach new skills and create a more vibrant atmosphere.
The school has a very real limit to their resources (struggling to buy food) and so the capabilities and talents of a volunteer in any capacity give a welcome boost to the children and staff. If you are able to transfer any skills or knowledge, from art, to IT, to sewing, then you can help make a better future while volunteering in Africa.
A report on the progress of a special needs school we are now supporting in Kenya; an opportunity for professionals in special needs, artists and those with IT skills, sewing and baking to volunteer abroad
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