A Volunteer in Kenya

September 14, 2012 by  
Filed under News

Excerpts from a letter by SOLID volunteer, Karen Siu after her recent volunteer experience inKenya:

“I feel very privileged to have been allowed to travel toKenyaas a representative of SOLID, and I am proud to be one of the many supporters of the SOLID Exchange, contributing to the tireless work of fundraising for this wonderful cause.

This was my first trip toKenya, and my first volunteer trip.  I was a bit nervous about how things would go, as it was also the first trip for my traveling companion.

It turned out we had nothing to worry about as Lynda Turner, SOLID director had everything very well organized for us.  We were met at the airport by Lynda’s lovely partner in Dormer K learning centre, and taken to the complex that we stayed at for 3 weeks. There we met Marie McKay (love her!) who runs Keef, which gets boys sponsored for school scholarships. Marie was onSaltSpringIslandlast year talking about the goat gifting program.

We were soon busy buying items for the sanitary kits for the girls, and fair trade African giftwear to sell at home to continue to raise funds to support these projects.

Trips to different areas were arranged for us to meet with groups of women with HIV, and present to them the goats that had been generously donated by so many people.  The women were always gathered singing, as it was a very joyous occasion to be receiving a goat!

We also took buckets with the sanitary supplies for the girls to many different schools.  It was a bit like being Santa Clause!  The girls seem a bit shy at first, but were all smiles when they were given buckets containing sanitary pads, soap and underwear, enabling them to attend school every day of the month.

The trips to the schools to donate the uniforms were very special and memorable.  There were so many kids at these schools whose uniforms or clothing was in such disrepair that it was surprising that the items stayed on. The children were so happy to get their new uniforms that they would change into to the new ones right away!

There was also a trip to one of the local hospital maternity wards to hand out layette kits. This was a shocking experience as this was a very crowded and dirty small ward, with 2 moms with new babies crowding each small cot.  Some of the mothers were unable to pay their hospital bills, so they were forced to stay in the overcrowded and unsanitary wards until their bill was paid.  This all seems a bit irrational, but somehow it must work for the hospital, yet is tragic for the new moms.  When they got their layettes with their pads, soap, underwear and baby clothes in them they were all so happy.

It was very obvious that Dormer K is making a profound difference to these people and I was proud to represent SOLID as a volunteer. Kakamega,Kenyais not a place to go for a “holiday”, but the experience helping these people will stay with me forever.  I hope I am able to go again as it was a very rewarding experience! Karen Siu

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