Words cannot begin to describe how kind, loving, grateful and humble Kenyans are.
I had been to Kenya before, but with my family in a very different setting. I was welcomed to the community of Enelerai in the Masai Mara with the ‘Jumbo’ song and immediately felt at ease and at home. For three weeks I became extraordinarily close with the community – the children who attend the primary and secondary schools, the mamas who bead and make congas to generate a source of alternate income whilst maintaining their households and walking miles multiple times every day just to collect water for their families, Masai warriors as well as those in my group also experiencing the amazing community.
We spent the three weeks digging five foot foundations for the dining hall of the new boy’s secondary boarding school (apart of the Jenga project) which will soon be completed. When we visited the Kisaruni Girl’s Secondary school, the girl’s passions truly showed as they spoke with us about their plans for the future, the dreams of becoming engineers, therapists and teachers. Building a school that would have the same impact on young men was truly rewarding.
We also visited and learned about the Baraka Health Clinic, stayed two nights in traditional Boma huts, living as many Kenyans do, shopped at a traditional roadside market, visited the local farm, learned swahili, warrior training and had multiple modules discussing the issues we saw in more depth. It feels uncanny to put these life changing things into list form: as words cannot describe the people I met, nor can they describe the experience I had.
I am forever grateful for the relationships that formed in Kenya and the experiences I will never be able to have again that came as a result of this trip.
Friends has, for a long time, had a strong partnership with God’s Love We Deliver. The annual holiday bag decorating for those who cannot cook for themselves or supply their own food for their families has always been a highlight of my service learning at Friends. It allows us to have such an immediate positive and loving effect on our NYC community.
This year, along with a few peers, I volunteered at the God’s Love We Deliver Youth Internship Program. We met many Sundays to learn about the business side of the philanthropic organisation as well as operations and client services. We were also able to help with hands on work such as chopping hundreds of vegetables for the daily soups and other meals whilst enjoying the company of the volunteers who come from all over the city to give back.
I have thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to experience a committed and loving organisation in depth. God’s Love really has an incredible amount of passion everyday when it comes to helping those in need. I would like to thank them for everything they have taught me and for the wonderful experience I have had there this year.
This year I went to the Head Start organization twice to work and play with children. My experience with Head Start was the most exciting, interesting and enjoyable service I have done at Friends. Despite the children being very sweet, it was fascinating to see how they interacted with one another and their teachers.
During our time with the children, we read to them, played games and sang with them. I loved being able to see a community other than friends, especially when I was helping and giving back. I think it is important to have these interactions with people around the city, and even the world as it expands our social knowledge and makes us aware of how fortunate we are. I will definitely be returning to Head Start next year.
My YPI Experience
This year in history we did a social issue project. Working with a group called YPI, each class broke up into groups and chose a social issue to find out more about and present it to the grade for a chance to win a $5000 grant for our non-profit. My group chose teenage pregnancy because we were all keen to work with children and on an issue that impacted the NYC community greatly. The organization we worked with is called Covenant House. It is a small but national, Catholic organization that helps homeless youth. We looked further into the Mother and Child Program that Covenant House have. During our site visit to Covenant House, we saw all the amazing work that they do. Firstly, the girls are very safe in the house where they stay. They are all there with their child/children for only about a month, but everyone still knows everyone. The girl that took us on the tour of the building kept stopping and saying hi to all the mothers and their terribly sweet children. We learnt an incredible amount from the interview we had with Renatta, the head of the Mother and Child Program. We then took all the information and the experience that we had with Covenant House and made a presentation to teach everyone about teenage pregnancy and how teenage mothers need a huge support system that most do not have.
For me, the most challenging part of this project was to convince the audience that we had how serious teenage pregnancy is. Throughout all of our work, we all came so passionate about our project and we wanted everyone to join in and feel the same way. During our presentation, against all of the other groups, the toughest part was saying why Covenant House is so important and why teen pregnancy is such a prominent issue. On the flip side, spreading our knowledge for teen pregnancy and our organization was extremely rewarding. Simply knowing all the information made me so excited to be apart of something that I really think everyone can help. Despite how sad the social issue is, it is so fulfilling to be able to spread the information and be so passionate about something. The YPI project was an amazing experience and I really hope that I can help and spread the message of Covenant House more in the future.