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Caroline Jones

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Caroline's trip to Kenya

Caroline volunteered in several orphanages during her time in Kenya, as well as at the IDP camp near Maai Mahiu. We hope her experiences were useful for her upcoming PGCE; her stay in Kenya was certainly useful for us and the people she helped.

I spent 4 weeks in Kenya on the orphanage programme. I stayed with Susan and her two adorable girls Linda and Sylvia, and living with them was one of the highlights of my trip because I got a real host family experience. Susan was so welcoming and I really enjoyed our conversations, she taught me so much about Kenyan politics and culture and I was so grateful to her for sharing her life story and her hopes for the future with me. You will also never go hungry, her food is AMAZING! Schools in Kenya don’t teach art so I did lots of crafts and drawing with Linda and Sylvia who had lots of fun, the flat was certainly never dull with them around!

I worked at Destined Children’s Centre, half an hour away from Susan’s, which had around 40 children, many of whom were under 10. The orphanage had three classrooms on its site where the children have lessons and then all gather to play, eat and sleep. The kids were adorable and I know as I teacher I shouldn’t say this... but it didn’t take long for me to work out my favourites... there really were some characters! We had lots of fun at playtime especially with bubbles and they loved taking pictures with my camera (even if one boy did manage to delete them all, meaning that a mad dash to the shopping centre, for the generous use of their free wifi, was needed to recover them!). Lunch time was always amusing not only as Sarah, the 13 year old matriarch of the group, managed to get them all sat down in three seconds, but also because it never failed to amaze me how much such tiny little people managed to eat! It was quite astonishing; no wonder they were all so strong! The kids enjoyed practising their English with me and they taught me some Swahili, even if I was pretty rubbish! I loved my time at the orphanage and Esther, the lady who runs it, only opened it two years ago - to look after the number of children she does with very limited funds and resources after such little time is truly inspirational. Going to the IDP camp was a lovely experience too, the Southern Cross Academy school that Agape has worked hard to develop is really taking shape. I took loads of children’s clothes with me to donate and it was nice to go and visit the families that live there.

a real, unsugarcoated volunteering experience... Be brave and go for it - you won’t regret it!

Tony, Izzo, Gee and Jessie – the volunteer coordinators in Kenya – did an amazing job keeping us occupied at the weekends. We climbed a mountain, visited animal sanctuaries, and trekked through Hell’s Gate National park, which I came away from feeling totally invincible... and covered in mud (beige shorts were not a good call). Hats off to Gee for coaxing me up that wall - even if he did admit afterwards that he got scared when my teacher voice came out half way up due to my utter terror; and also to Jessie for carrying my bag all the way round.

Going on safari was one of the most magical experiences of my life and one I would massively recommend, especially as Agape charge less than a third of the price of normal tourist rates. If you are lucky enough to have Magical David (god of the Mara) as your driver – he knows literally everything, the man is a legend – then he might let you drive the van... I must say, I didn't think my first experience of driving an automatic would be in the Maasai Mara, in a van, with nine people, while desperately trying to avoid clipping a wildebeest!

I would wholeheartedly recommend volunteering with Agape – they don’t nanny you, but the team are there if you need them. They provide you will a real, unsugarcoated volunteering experience which I was very thankful for. Be brave and go for it- you won’t regret it!

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