They have done it! > 2010 > Kenya
Workcamp at Ebukhaya Secondary School, western Kenya
August- September 2007
When volunteering in Malawi and Tanzania while at school and during my year out I developed a love of East Africa and soon felt itchy to go back. On discovering VAP I found a number of workcamps in Kenya and at far more affordable prices than any ’volunteer abroad’ organisations. I chose a 6 week workcamp based at a secondary school in western Kenya.
All workcamps are different, but this one was particularly unique as it was part of a special affiliation between a Japanese and Kenyan voluntary organisation and of twenty volunteers I found that I was the only one who wasn’t Japanese or Kenyan (for prospective volunteers this situation is very rare!). Our group included four local volunteers who spoke the mother tongue of the area and were indispensable. One local volunteer brought us fresh milk every morning from her family’s cow.
Our work was focussed on renovating a run down classroom in the school and we dug foundations, got caked in mud while brick making, levelled the ground and I even did some brick laying. The work was physically challenging and I certainly felt stronger when the 6 weeks were over.
Working together on the physical labour was only one aspect of the workcamp. Each day a small team of us would cook in the kitchen and make breakfast, lunch and dinner for twenty volunteers on open fires. In the afternoons after the physical work was done we would visit the homes of local volunteers or other members of the community, which usually involved the warmest welcome and a lot of food. The team also visited a group of under-privileged children on Saturdays and sang songs and played games with them for a few hours, and the Japanese volunteers attempted to teach them (and me) origami. On some weekends we visited the nearby city of Kisumu for precious internet access and cold beers (the community we stayed in had no electricity so the beer was always warm).
Aside from the physical work, the workcamp focussed on the exchange of Japanese and Kenyan culture and we had Japanese and Swahili lessons and encouraged pupils at the secondary school to join us. In the evenings we enjoyed ’cultural nights’ of traditional foods, games, songs and dances. I never thought I would find myself eating sushi in rural East Africa!
For me, these 6 weeks were the most wonderful experience which I didn’t want to end. Volunteering on a workcamp is a great way to see the world and simultaneously really experience a culture from a different perspective to a tourist. I loved being part of a movement which promotes international and inter-cultural understanding through working together.
Hannah E. from London