Auckland International AirportMay 7, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C
Day 1 of my seven month trip around the world! I'm nervous, anxious but mostly so excited!!
Day 1 of my seven month trip around the world! I'm nervous, anxious but mostly so excited!!
After 17.5 hours flying from Auckland to Dubai, it was so awesome waking through the arrivals gate to Jadey-Pops with this huge smile on her face! It had been a really long flight but seeing her on the other side was the best part! I really enjoyed the flight, managed to sleep for most of it and enjoyed some delicious food. Our days were jam-packed and Jade was a fantastic tour guide!! We saw camels on the beach in JLT and then went to the gold and spice souks in Old Dubai. In between we ate so much food at the multiple restaurants - I was so surprised at how much food and drink costs and temperatures averaged 38+ degrees!Read more
Jade again played an amazing tour guide showing me all around Dubai and how to avoid the ridiculous heat by zipping from one air conditioned place to the next, using a Lexus Uber for a 500m drive!! I did one of her Black classes at Bare DXB which was awesome - I nearly died but it was so cool seeing her do her thing! We also went to the Palm Islands and hired bikes to cycle from the Atlantis to one side of the palm. This is definitely one of the highlights of Dubai because it was something Jade hadn't done before but also a really cool way to see the Palm and Atlantis while enjoying the 40 degree heat! We also went up the Burj Khalifa to floors 124 & 125 which was incredible. Luckily the clouds had lifted so I could see mostly everything from up there. I packed my bags and put on my Eliza Thornberry safari hat as I said goodbye to my little cousin who is absolutely killing it in Dubai. A truly fantastic way to start my 7 month adventure and some quality time with my girl!Read more
I arrived in Nanyuki after four hours on a matatu (shuttle van) from Nairobi - one of the worst experiences of my time in Kenya!! It was full of locals, squashed together like sardines with no fresh air coming through at 6:30am. At this point I started to question why I was here and how on earth I was going to last six weeks here. I met my host mum Jacinta, and sisters Lisanne (Netherlands) and Melanie (Denmark). I also met Jacinta's sister and family who were visiting for the day. It was at this point I felt comfortable with the house full of people laughing over a meal, just like home! I spent my first week getting to know Nanyuki, visiting the equator, running in the mornings like the locals and working at Vision Star Pre School located in the slums. I worked with middle class (4-5 year olds) who spoke next to zero English so I had to learn a bit of Swahili very quickly. It was exhausting working here, the kids were very loud, not disciplined and obviously the language barrier was tough which limited the amount of work I could do. I was well and truly in a third world country and out of my comfort zone!Read more
My second week in Nanyuki and I've started feeling more and more comfortable in this foreign country where you're referred to as a muzungu (white person). At first I took offense but as it turns out, the word is actually quite respectful and the children love having us here! I spent my days at Vision Star Pre School helping with the class, handing out books, sharpening pencils, teaching new games and ways to learn certain parts of the English language - we did the vowels every day for about three hours a day.... The children are great, full of beans, smiles and although they don't have much, you'd never know that!! I also participated in a medical outreach at a rural dispensary where we did free HIV testing. This was eye opening as I'd never done testing before and with HIV being such a prevalent disease in Africa, it was evident how much the disease was feared here. We had 1 positive result from 50 or so which was good but still heart breaking to tell the man. Friday was a day off so I decided to go to Neema Baby Home to try out a different placement. Here, orphans under 3 years old are placed and cared for until adoption. It was a completely different experience to the other places I'd been as the home receives funding from America and is quite well off in comparison. I ended up leaving quite angry because knowing the funding the home receives from a non-government organization, it was really evident the money was going into the pockets of those at the top and the children were suffering. The staff fed children from the same bowl of food and spoon, hence why every child was sick, they'd change their nappies then feed them without washing hands, outside playtime consisted of putting the babies in bumper seats in the direct sun for 45 mins without toys or shade. And then, to make things even worse, a two week old baby that had been found in a gutter was being fed by one of the staff. She kept falling asleep so the staff would shake her, swing her up and down to try and wake her up!! It made me so so angry seeing how poorly these children were being treated when they deserved so much more, at such a young age. I left Neema and decided I wouldn't be going back there while I was in Nanyuki.Read more
I was introduced to a new placement called Hope & Home last week where the school doubles as Rescue centre for street kids from all over Kenya. The place is owned by Mama Susan who has not very much money but the biggest heart! She has up to 40 children in her care now and she loves each of them equally, no matter where they've come from or what they've been through. I'd been okay working at Vision Star but wasn't feeling fulfilled or like I'd made much of a difference in my two weeks there so this week I decided to do two placements - Vision Star in the morning and Hope & Home in the afternoons. At Hope & Home, I did a lot of teaching classes 5,6,7 & 8 which is equivalent to years 5-8 in NZ curriculum however because the school is for street children, a lot for the kids are 2-4 years behind so there were several 16-17 year olds doing year 7 and 8 work. I introduced Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom movie to my social studies classes and we had some really great discussions around equality, freedom and human rights. Thursday was a public holiday in Kenya and instead of taking the day off, I decided to organize a cooking social at Hope & Home with the kids as I wanted to spend as much time as possible with them. The other volunteers came along and I also invited Jacinta too. We made chapati, pilau (spiced rice for special occasions), vege stew and the kids taught me how to cut cabbage the Kenyan way! It was so lovely because normally the kids wouldn't have eaten on a day like today and we were able to put on a huge feast for them!! Following lunch we had a dance competition and I sat there taking it all in, appreciating how little these children have and yet seeing how happy they are put everything in to perspective. A group of girls read a poem called "The African Woman" which highlighted the struggles of women in Africa - from child bearing, rape, circumcision to violence - it was very powerful and as a woman, it really affected me as I couldn't imagine ever going through these things a lot of the girls had been through. Then Joseph stood up and presented his poem "My Comfort". He spoke about walking from street to street, shelter to shelter, with nothing but the dirty clothes on his back and cut up feet, no mother, father, brothers or sisters to love him, until he found Hope & Home - his comfort. At the end of this I was so overwhelmed with emotion, the day had been absolutely incredible and I couldn't hold back the tears no longer. I'd been surrounded by kids who had been raped, abused, abandoned, battled addiction, forced into marriage and who were all under the age of 18. Yet none of them looked sad, none of them showed pity, none of them hated their lives but instead, they were all so full of love, joy, happiness, resilience and togetherness. This was the most special and memorable day I've had in Nanyuki and there's nowhere else I'd rather be at this point in time than with these kids.Read more
A spontaneous trip to Nyeri with Jacinta on the weekend was so great! Her sister Anne and family visited us in Nanyuki then invited us to stay at theirs for the rest of the weekend. The youngest boy Mamou loves muzungus and was super cute the whole time I was there. It was nice seeing a different part of Kenya (Nyeri was about 1.5 hrs away) and I got to try different foods and experience local Kenyan family life on the weekend too. The family also heard about Hope & Home through me and decided to clear out their house with everything they didn't need! We took six huge sacks of clothes and shoes, as well as bikes and toys to Hope & Home Monday morning!Read more
After walking around Hope & Home on my first day, it was evident how little these kids have. Their mattresses are an inch tall with holes in them, blankets are covered in mud and dust, clothes are barely recognizable and their personal possessions fit into a little tin box. I'd been contemplating climbing Mt Kenya while I was in Nanyuki and the three day hike was going to cost $650NZD. As I thought about Hope & Home and why I had come to Kenya, I realised I had missed the point and decided I'd like to buy some things for Hope & Home and save a bit of money for the rest of my trip. I set up a Givealittle page knowing some people from home would be keen to donate and though if I could get $500-$750NZD, we'd be able to buy some new mattresses for the kids. Never ever did I think we'd raise $2000!!! With this money I was able to buy 30 x quality mattresses that will last the kids years, 30 x blankets, boys underwear, sanitary items, school books, pens & pencils, soap, toothpaste & toothbrushes, laundry buckets, flour, rice, beans, oil and fresh veges! We had two truckloads of items and it was so so special delivering them on my last day in Nanyuki. One of the senior students Yvonne made a small speech and then I explained where all the money had come from and how thankful I was that I'd been able to come to Hope & Home and how welcomed they'd made me feel. It was so emotional!! Jacinta, myself and two other volunteers cleaned the rooms and made the beds up for everyone, it looked so awesome once finished and I know they'll all be sleeping well for months to come! I said my goodbyes, some students begging me not to leave, offering their bed to me so I could stay and asking if they could come with me. One memorable moment was when one boy Nahashon (15years, Class 6) came and gave me a hug goodbye. He'd been abandoned by his mother when he was young, having no idea where she went so he turned to the streets before finding Hope & Home. When I first met him, I could see the pain he'd experienced, he was guarded, reserved but very respectful and polite. I never expected him to come and say goodbye but he did and in that moment, I knew I'd given a little love to a kid that needed it. I waved goodbye to everyone, promised them I'd be back to see them when they're in high school and left Hope & Home for the last time, leaving a little bit of my heart there but knowing I've got this huge Kenyan family whenever I return.Read more
I can't believe how fast my time in Nanyuki has gone by. I remember when I arrived I wondered how I'd make it through to the end but now I don't want to leave!! I finished at Vision Star last week as I decided my time was better spent at Hope & Home where I could offer more to the kids here. I decided to help a few families at Vision Star by buying them some food supplies (flour, fresh veges, rice, beans, all the necessities) to last them a couple of months, plus some school tracksuits for the children. It was so humbling to meet the single mothers and see their gratitude and hear the pain they've been through. I'm not religious in anyway but they blessed me over and over again, thanking god for sending help in the form of me and blessing me with such a huge heart that's willing and wanting to help others. Knowing it was my last week in Nanyuki, I wanted to spend as much time with the children from Hope & Home so I surprised them in the weekend and we went for a walk to the river. It was super cool to have some one on one time with these kids outside of the classroom and really make a special bond with them. They're truly amazing people and I'm so thankful to have been able to form such strong relationships with them in such a short amount of time.Read more
Jacinta and I travelled to Nairobi together on a matatu. It was so much better this time as I felt a little more like a local and had Jacinta with me! We said our goodbyes after having lunch at her sisters place and it wasn't too sad as I know I'll be seeing her again soon. She has been absolutely amazing looking after me during my time in Nanyuki. I've learnt so much about Kenya, cooking, Swahili and life in general that she will be someone that I'll keep in touch with. In my last week, I was the only volunteer in the house and we formed such a special bond, she truly felt like my Kenyan mum and I'm forever grateful for what she has done for me. I arrived at Wildebeest Eco Camp for my first night with my safari tour group and the campground was amazing! Next time I come to Nairobi, I'll definitely stay here.Read more