Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Concordia North South project in Kenya

Concordia North South project

Country and place: Ngumbulu, Kenya

Date: Summer 2007

Volunteer: Caroline Dudley

Writing a blog about my experience in Kenya has been no easy task. Having spent a month in Machakos, the Eastern region of Kenya, I have had so many amazing experiences that to pick a few key points is an extremely difficult thing to do. However, the fundamental point to convey is that, at the risk of sounding cheesy, choosing to volunteer in Kenya is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

The work camp I was involved in set about repairing roads that had been damaged by water during the rainy season. Although this was the principle reason for being in the village of Ngumbulu it became increasingly apparent to me that the cultural exchange between myself, the international volunteer’s and the local community was worth just as much, if not more, than the physical work of repairing the road. Spending the afternoons on home visit or sitting round the camp fire after a hard days work, so many ideas, values and perspectives are exchanged which inevitably broaden your perspective. During my short time at Ngumbulu I, for example, learnt how to construct a fairly decent fire, sang local songs and pick up a little Kamba, the local dialect. In exchange I assisted in organising and orchestrating an English culture night, taught many a song to the local school children and swallowing my pride whenever I was laughed at playing volleyball (which was often).

Furthermore, being involved in a highly diverse group of international volunteers I was pleasantly surprised by how well we worked together as a team and how rewarding being a member of a team can be. All volunteers were involved in every aspect of domestic life whether it be cooking, collecting water or having the sometimes unappealing task of cleaning the toilets. Such responsibilities were conducted in accordance with local practices which allowed me to gain ever increasing respect for the local culture as well as an appreciation for what I have in my own life.

After spending a month in Kenya it is my belief that international volunteering can be a great way to immerse yourself in a culture, give something to community and learn a great deal about yourself and the world around you. It is an experience that I will not forget in a hurry and one, which even on my return, demands that I question and broaden my ideas and perspectives.

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