Volunteer Reflections

 

 

I am Dorian Leppink,  24-year old post graduate student, who resides in the Netherlands, and the first born in a family of two. I am very passionate about helping the less fortunate and the vulnerable in society.

On February the 27th 2018, I arrived in the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport of Nairobi early in the morning. I was a bit nervous because I had never been in Africa before. I was going to volunteer for 5 weeks with Action for Children in Conflict. They arranged for a driver to pick me up from the airport and after two hours of hectic Nairobi traffic I finally arrived in the office. It was really nice to finally meet the people I had been emailing with. It was a really warm welcome, and  everybody was really nice! The first week I got to know everybody around and did some sightseeing in Nairobi and the surroundings. It was so amazing to finally see giraffes and lions in real life. I also visited both the Outreach Program for Vulnerable Children (OPVC) Majengo center and the Karibaribi center, that was still empty because recruitment would start in the coming weeks. On Saturday 9th March, we did an amazing hike in Mt.Kilimambogo and I had the best time. 

On the second week beginning 5th February 2018, real work started. We agreed that I should accompany Joseph who is a social worker when he was doing fieldwork. His job was to identify children, who are interested in going to the center. (An easy job I assumed. Which kid does not want to live in a center with a lot of farm animals and nice people, instead of living in the streets?). This was a little more complicated than I expected. The kids on the street are a bit distrustful and it takes time to win them over. In the beginning I was really shocked, seeing the kids in their bases, with dirty clothes, asking you for money. But when you get to know them, you see their fun personalities and can have a really good time with them. After a while we started to recruit the children and bring them to the Karibaribi center. This was a very nice experience. We would take kids from the streets, ferry them in a matatu and drop them off at the Karibaribi center.

Now there were kids, the Karibaribi center became one of my favorite places to hang around. It is so much fun to play football with the boys, help them to do their cooking tasks, petting the dogs or the goats, or just having long conversations where they tell about their lives and I tell about my life in the Netherlands. I spent most of my time either in the field or at one of the centers. The work in the field brought me to the less nicer areas of Kenya. We went to different neighbourhoods, residential areas and villages to do street work.That way I experienced the ‘real Kenya’ without luxury hotels and expat communities. And everywhere we went the people (and especially the street kids) were amazing.  I never felt unsafe or unwelcome anywhere.

Now my volunteership time is over and I am sad to leave this wonderful country and wonderful people. I will miss my colleagues and also the people I got to know in the streets. I would really recommend volunteering with AfCiC if you want to work with super nice people in a safe environment and get a good taste of the real Kenyan life (Try the chapatis, mangoes and avocados. They are delicious)  I hope to be back soon :).

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