Friday, 14 September 2012

The Final Countdown

Just a little of my last weeks in Kenya....

After being postponed several times the trip to Uganda finally took place! My backpacking friend Vincent and I set off on our short trip to Uganda in order for me to complete the sponsored Nile High Bungee Jump, with a few adventures along the way, and of course some dramas! These include calling Jinja 'Jinga' which means fool! This defiantly summed up the place in some ways!! Going to see the waterfalls at the source of the River Nile and being told 'they have been moved!' But you can still pay to see where they used to be!! Arriving in Jinja getting a motorbike and being taken round the whole of the town; to be what he thought was the bungee jump, actually turned out that he thought we wanted to go and swim! A bit of a breakdown in communication there, the policeman were like 'you fool!, you don't even know where your leading these people!' But we made it in the end to the Adrift Centre where we were beginning our adventures! We stayed in our 'backpackers' dorms 'Big Brother' eating looking over the beautiful view of the Nile in the morning and at Sunset was truly beautiful, trekking like 15kms around the town to Vinny's way of 'really getting to know a place!' realising the town is actually quite weird as it doesn't have eating places, there is all this random stuff, looking at hotels all very interesting experience! Oh and not forgetting to go and look at Lake Victoria to be taken to this back end of the town where they load boats full of supplies on the lake, trying to take pictures of the view, then people are abusing you as they think your taking photos of them, and then being told you cant, to which become very irritating and replying 'its a natural landscape created by God, how can you tell me I can't take pictures!!' Traveling to Kampala was also interesting! It took so long to get there to alight in this crazy city trying to find our way to the bus station that no one knew of! We made it in the end, was sure a mission though, as we were yet to eat and had very little money we found this place but they gave us moldy sausages that were not even eatable and tasted disgusting, certainly wasn't pleasant that's for sure!
And that was just some of our crazy moments of our time! We can laugh at it now but it did become all a little frustrating at the time!


So the actual jump was pretty mental! When we first got to the site and see the tower I was like that's not that high, didn't feel panicked or anything, after waiting for hours the time soon come! When I started walking up all the staircases to reach the top of the tower I begun feeling sick, and was like what am I doing!! When I got to the top I looked down and realised how high up I really was! Now it was in a completely different perspective! The tower is built on high ground so in actual fact before it didn't look that high but that wasn't the reality! I was now higher than satellite towers, trees, houses, everything!! WOW!
I was to sit in the chair whilst they tied my feet together with the rope, and talked me through the jump, at this point i kept looking down and was just like oh my word, i cant do this! I then had to stand up and waddle to the edge of which was hard without falling over, just felt like I could fall off anytime! As I was getting closer I could just see the height of the drop and was saying to the instructors I cant do this, wanting to turn around they were like 'you are doing this!' I had to get my feet over the edge and when my feet were hanging off the edge I had to put my arms on the roofing of the tower, then I had to move further forward taking my arms down and putting them out as if I was flying! I then was like I cant, can you not just push me, they were like we can you just need to get your feet over the edge! The instructor held my waste as I put my arms out, he let me go saying 1,2, BUNGEE! I jumped! I was going in slow motion flying then all of a sudden i dropped so fast touching the water and being sprung up and down several times, being flipped in the air! I can certainly say my heart was in my mouth, was an incredible indescribable experience! These 2 guys were waiting in a boat to release me were just laughing so much! Saying 'catch the paddle' when they were miles away! After getting out of the boat, my heart was still racing so much and my legs were like jelly I could barely walk! Was sure a crazy experience kind of surreal! But all in all I did it and most of all I did it for the home which was great, raising funds that have helped in the set up and running of the home great stuff!

I think that whole week was crazy as at the weekend I had been in Mombasa, came back to work for a couple of days then Headed to Uganda, arrived in the morning then travelled to Mombasa in the evening and spent a couple of days in Mombasa to head back to work for my final few days at work before my leave in Mombasa. All a bit mental but was just so much to do before I left, the main thing being getting and setting up the house!

Last days at work :(

After having a few days off leave for my Uganda trip, I headed back for what was my last days at work where I had to finish a big water tank donation with Kambui school, finish up on reports, bookings etc, organise everything for my handover to Maureen, say goodbye to the projects and much more!
On the Tuesday I was to have a meeting with Maureen my colleague and Carmen my manager (of my department) it turned out to be that our meeting was a surprise lunch date. We went to this lovely restaurant, which was a thank you lunch from our department and just reflected and talked of the year which was a great thing to do, it did make me begin to feel sad as so far reality hadn't hit me that I was actually leaving with being so busy! The friday was my final day at work, where my all of my work colleagues held a surprise leaving party, although I have to say I did find it all a little odd when everyone was not in the office and then Eve told me to lock the office at 3pm in the afternoon! Although it was a surprise indeed! Carmen gave a speech and thanked me for all I had done listing everything and saying all these lovely things, my general manager also which was really nice! Giving me a beautiful leaving present of african hand crafted jewellery kuzuri beads which were just beautiful! Petty made a cake, which was like the best cake ever!
All in all it was very sad to say goodbye and to know that I was actually living, it was the end of what has been an incredible journey. I have learnt, grown and developed my character, skills and abilities in so many ways through the work I have done it has been a great year, I just wish I never had to leave.

One of the hardest things about leaving my job was leaving the projects I have worked with for the last year having to really have gotten to know these people, watched them grown and develop in so many ways has been one of the hardest things. On Wednesday I went to the Power Women's Group which is support group for HIV/AIDS in Kibera Slums, it was so hard to say goodbye. The ladies went round each giving words, verses, encouragement to me which made me so emotional, i then shared my testimony with some of the ladies it was a real great way to end our time together. These women are amazing, they are inspirational in terms of the faith they have, the way they live their life, just truly incredible women it has been so great working with them having seen them grow and develop in so many ways, they have encouraged and impacted me in so many ways. I will truly miss these beautiful women.

My last time at Kambui school for the deaf was also emotional the kids were leaving to go for half term, seeing mixed emotions across all of the children's faces, it was hard to say goodbye to the children I had worked closely with and really see a change in the kids with special needs, such precious children. I loved this school!

When I came back from my leave, the day I was flying home I went to Angels centre for abaondend children, I have to say this was the hardest goodbyes and hardest project I had to leave as they really didn't understand I was leaving. The day I went 2 of the children were being collected by the German families they were being adopted by, it was a sad day for the home, a life changing day for the children, it was many mixed emotions! I had seen these 2 children grow and develop so much especially one of the boys who was so undeveloped, had HIV and a lot of health problems to now see him walking, happy and health is the greatest thing of all. All these little children are so special, they are so young but seeing how intelligent they are, seeing their own personalities shinning out at such an age, this children are amazing I have so much love for them, I just pray they all find loving families like Nate and Martin. I have seen these children develop in so many ways over the last year, was probably the closest project I worked with and defiantly had a big impact on me! Especially one little girl Joy (who I have previously mentioned) I would have loved to have adopted her, and as people have always said I never chose her, she chose me! I will defiantly miss her so much, it was so hard leaving her in a way I feel like she knew as she cried so much when I left and to walk away from her was the hardest thing ever.

My last 2 weeks

For the last 2 weeks in Kenya I spent most of it in Mombasa, it was pretty busy the whole time traveling back and forth trying to sort out the logistics of the house, moving in, starting work and all the rest of it was pretty mental! Especially the last 2 days! (More of this in  ) My last day was shopping for items, work at the house, setting systems up, was crazy nearly missed the bus to Nairobi being stuck at ferry, no transport,. quick goodbyes all a little mad! But amongst all of that was good to see people and spend time with them before I left especially some of the boys, a last time at the beach also, so was some good times in all! But very sad to leave Mombasa, is home to me. It was very difficult leaving the home in such a stage, wanting to be there in the set up, being there to deal with all the logistics, being there when the first child comes and all the rest of it, really being there. It was defiantly hard to leave, to trust the team I have, and to trust God with all he has given me to know that it will be ok. It is defiantly challenging but I know God has provided me with great people to assist so I have to know all will be well, not to say there wont be challenges along the way, but the greater the battle, the greater the victory! But very exciting times ahead, looking forward to seeing what happens, but a lot of prayers needed!

My last day went so quick, being very busy! Trying to check in, saying good bye to Angels, trustee meeting, trying to pack within hours of having to be at the airport, saying goodbyes, all a little weird really! I didn't feel like I was actually leaving even at the airport! Saying goodbye to Benson (driver at work) was very sad as he has been such a good friend to me, we would call each other best friend! He is one of the most humble, nicest people I have ever met! Such a great guy! My flight happened to be delayed, we wern't able to land, circling around in the air for a while but it finally was it I was back in England......

That's it, the year is over and now I am back in England! Sad face! The last few weeks have been very challenging and difficult, it has been hard adjusting back to the western culture, lots of changes and challenges that have taken place, friendships and much more. Adjusting back is hard, preparing for final year of uni, so not ready to study again. Its all hard at the moment, I am sure I will get there, sometimes it doesn't make sense as to why God has put things on my heart yet now I am back in the UK I dont get it but sometimes things are back to front, its not the ideal way, but thats the great thing about having faith! I know Kenya is on my heart, it is home to me, now I have to see what the future holds, its out of my hands and for us humans i think that is the hardest thing!

All in all it has been such an amazing year, one of the greatest years in my life, it is so hard to sum up into words but it has been a year that has really grown and developed my character in so many ways in my personal life and in terms of my course. I have seen outstanding things happen that have really stretched my faith and relationship with God, to truly depend on him. There has been challenges, hard times sure but its all strengthened me and made me stronger! I have gained so much its really broadened my mind, passion in ways I could not imagine! It wasn't just a placement year that's for sure! God does extraordinary things in ways we couldn't believe, and so much more! I believe its just the beginning of a greater adventure!

Follow  for updates on the home!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The last 5 months of my life in Kenya

5 months have passed and this is the first time I’m blogging since being back, wow have these last 5 months flown by, I cant believe how quick they have gone, the thought that I have such little time left is a hard thought… so lets leave that one for now!

What have I been doing over the last 5 months? Well….

Coming back just felt like home but I come back to so much change at work moving offices, new staff any my manager deciding to step down from her role all made things very different, and with this I was given more responsibility in my job role which has been good for me and taught me so much.

Over the last 5 months at work we have had some challenging and difficult volunteers which has been so frustrating that you want to quit your job and pull your hair out especially after investing in them and organising so much for them! The most recent being a sorority group we had which were difficult to say the least writing awful feedback making me in tears and stressed at the end of it, boy were they hard work! You see the good, the bad and the ugly for sure, it for sure gave me a dislike towards Americans! But you then get the good volunteers who you stay friends with, one of which is already planning on coming to London!

I have really learnt a lot in my job role, and gained so much experience they say that after working in this industry in this job role, you can really say you can work with people! You can be tested to all lengths for sure! I learnt more than I ever could in a book including working with projects, and theory really seeing the life scenarios happen that you read about especially with volunteers and within the projects with development, working with and not for, the “hand out” mentality and much more! Reading “Helping Hurts” taught me so much and I really have seen this come to life which has grown and developed me so much in so many ways really know the right way to help and to empower many people within a community, and how to really help Kenyans, and what they need from outsiders. You see so many volunteers come and after trying to educate them they still don’t get it, think they know best don’t help but actually cause so much damage when they think they are helping, its far from it and it happens so widely, people really need to learn the culture, build relationships and get to know people first it’s the key!

It has been great to see the projects growing, building stronger relationships with the children within the different projects. God has really deep rooted such a love in my heart for these children and children generally especially those in poor and needy situations, who are less unfortunate.
Me & Joy
One special girl is Joy at Angels which is a centre for abandoned children. Joy is nearly 2 she is a child that wont go to anyone she will select who she goes to. The home has 10 nannies and out of them all there is only one she will go to, out of all the visitors the home has she wont go to anyone, I am the only person she will go to when I come she comes to me and if I leave her for a minute she follows, or wont let me. She knows if I have to leave she will grip on and hold me so tightly or pull on me so I cant let go, she will then cry so much when I leave, sometimes when my colleague goes there she comes looking out the window for me, she calls me mum and when the nannies ask her who mum is she points at me and then wont go to the other nannie she likes even. She gets very jealous if I’m playing with the other children they sit on me, hug me or hold my hand she starts crying.
Everyone keeps telling me I have to adopt her, she has chosen me! I have grown to love her very much. She is so young but yet you know her behaviour is rooted from how she was abandoned and being left. The day I have to leave her is going to be so hard knowing she wont be able to understand.

Free Spirit Logo
When I went back home in December I felt something being stirred in me about starting a home but I thought it was a long shot and such a big idea that was impossible and it wouldn’t be until way in the future if it was to be. When I came back I felt really stirred and having such compassion for street children. I was also reading the book “Compelled by Love” at the time and it really stirred me wanting to have that passion and faith with God, being about the poor I knew it was my passion to work with the poor and yearned to see the power of God break out amongst the poor in Kenya. I then kept getting ‘break my heart for what breaks yours’ it was like God was really breaking my heart for street children. It was then that I knew God was putting it on my heart to start a home for street children, but how it was just impossible so I just pushed it down, but I just found myself having this yearning inside of me and just thinking about it all the time. One lunch time I was talking to Maureen who I work with and she said you have all this in your hands, so what are you waiting for! It then begun! Going for endless meetings, gathering information, making plans and so that is how it all begun! So I am in the process of setting up a home called Free Spirit ‘ A home of freedom in the transformation of new life, you can follow the blog for Free Spirit for more information on where the home is at etc! But it’s a working progress! Working hard for funding, sponsorship, fundraisers etc to fund, set up and run the home long term.

The home has been the main thing that has been filling my time and keeping me so busy, it really is all in faith not knowing how it will all work out, and with so many discouragements along the way, but I’m trusting God knowing its done for him and his children.

Another big thing was that I became sick with malaria; wasn’t a pleasant experience to say the least, at one point I felt like I was dying but thank God I am now well and recovered. I still feel tired and weak at times, but it can take a long time for your body t recover so I’m just bearing with it, but otherwise I am well.

I was meant to do the bungee jump, it was postponed several times due to work commitments, then I became sick so it was postponed again, I am hoping to do it before I leave! Eeeek!

I got to go to Encounter Mara which is camp my company's camp that is based in the Masai Mara one of the seventh wonders of the world. My company paid for me to go on safari there all expenses paid which was such an incredible blessing and amazing experience. I was so blessed and it was a great time including many dramas! Running from lions, nearly being trampled on by an elephant which resulted in me hurting my back, cutting my arm and cracking my camera screen least it wasn’t worse! Animals at night hyenas scratching at your tents, hippos, lions, buffalo as well! No experience like wild animals at your feet!

Me & Martin
We had this group come for 2 weeks that worked with our outreach project a school for the deaf. During this time I was in a class with 2 of the volunteers, in this class there was 3 boys with special needs. The teacher had put them at the side of the class and excluded them from the rest of the class letting them sit there doing nothing. I begun working with these children really seeing when they were invested into and helped they could do such good work and were so creative. One of the boys ‘Kevin’ had been known as being naughty and bad by the whole school due to the teacher, she spoke badly of him, made him cry, laughed at him which only discouraged him further. I then told her the reason he was behaving this way was because she had excluded him from the class so it was like he wasn’t one of them, making him think something was wrong with him he needed to feel equal. We moved the boys and mixed them up with the rest of the class, within hours there was a magnificent difference Kevin was now so attentive he was finishing before the other kids, doing more was so creative, helping others and loved to help me, one of the other boys Martin also improved, with guidance he was just at the level as the others. 

Me & Kevin
There was another boy who has more extreme difficulties, he was unable to hold a pencil or anything everyone would say oh he cant do anything leave him, they never knew his name even they would call him Vincent, Benson after persisting I found out his name was Stephen we soon see him holding a pencil he does need a lot of help but he got so excited and was so happy. Being a deaf school was so hard to communicate but it was great to spend time with these beautiful children, such children are rejected, looked upon and disowned by their parent and society for being deaf but these children are amazingly talented, being deaf doesn’t stop them being able to dance, play instruments when they cant hear sound and so much more! They are incredible! I love working with the school. I became to have such a love for Kevin with the friendship we built, by investing into him really see such a difference, he would always want to be with me. Just shows what a difference it can make by investing ‘time’ into someone, this is what so many needy children need, and someone to love them. 

Class 3 working with @ Kambui school for the Deaf

 Being with the boys in Mombasa is always good, although its been hard due to the difficult circumstances, but we have celebrated birthdays and had some fun times together despite all the difficult situations that have taken place along the way. But I still continue to love them, and to invest into them seeking God for a lot of grace and forgiveness along the way!

Summing up 5 months is not easy, so many things have happened but this is just a few stories about moments that have impacted me, grown me and touched my heart.

 Oh and riding camels!

I love Kenya, and I just don’t want to leave that’s all I can say……..

Saturday, 10 March 2012

3 months on...

It's been 3 months since I have last written a entry, what's new, what's happened? Well....

My last month in Kenya

My last month at work was a very busy one dealing with bookings, inquiries, volunteers and the volunteer house. For 2012 the volunteer housing was changing; a new house which meant a lot of budgeting, and a whole lot of hard core bargaining to furnish the house with a grand African theme! It was endless; so much hard work (harder than it sounds) working crazy hours to get it finished before I left, just hours before I headed to the airport I was still chasing up furniture etc! Was sure one Kenyan experience! Kenyan's were shocked at my bargaining quoting "your better and get it cheaper than us!".

Knowing I was going soon I tried to make the most of my time with the boys in Mombasa where we went on outings, had a lot of fun playing practical jokes which involved a lot of water, by where I kept being told it was my birthday (in Kenyan culture when its your birthday you are drenched in water!) really just making the most of our last moments, also involving a lot of sadness when it came to goodbyes without them knowing when i would return....

Before I knew it the time flew by had to be the quickest month ever! The day I was flying home I went to work having not packed or really realised, "oh yeah I'm going back home tonight and then it hit me!" my last day was a work function by where we celebrated eating cake, planting trees and being called to dance in front of everyone! We then headed off for a Xmas/end of year lunch with everyone which involved a whole lot of meat! Your seated and they continuously bring round different types of meat even crocodile! going round and round your table, makes you feel kinda dizzy with it all and the amount of meat! Next thing i knew i was rushing to pack and then suddenly on the plane felling so surreal and so many mixed emotions about going home, but I really didn't want to go, and wasn't ready to go....

Culture Shock 

People always say when coming back from a very diverse country, or more so when you come back from a developing country you get great culture shock. Knowing what to expect still doesn't stop it from happening especially coming back to such a western country at Christmas time where everyone is rushing around spending so much money on things that seem so meaningless and losing the real meaning of Christmas and seeing how such things never make people happy at Christmas or anytime of year. " Money can't buy happiness" spending the last 6 months with such humble people who have barely anything are rich in faith and spiritual blessings more rich and happy than a person who has great success and all the wealth and possession you could imagine. Simple seems to be the best way and seeing the real meaning and values to life. England seems so far from it all and people are missing the point they are just blind to it all. Such sadness. This is hard to be embraced by; and to not fall in to such ways but to grasp on the things that have such great value and meaning, to what my eyes were opened to and the changes that have taken place within me which can have a life changing impact and for the future...


When I was away so much changed circumstantially, within myself along with my surrounding and everything that took place during those 6 months. Amongst it all you think home is still the same but when you come back, you realise that so much has also changed at home within church where lots of new people new things that are going on dynamics, friendships change, people change. Great to see so many exciting things happening but at the same time was so hard to relate and connect to people and what was home now feeling so detached from it all. However it allowed me to reflect on who my true friends where, what this means to me and seeing the bigger picture. It has actually allowed me to be more free; and not feel so attached to one place as much as I love Bournemouth, the people and Citygate it just didn't feel quite like home anymore, and I have a feeling this is because of what maybe in store for the future.....

Nevertheless it was great being back to see and catch up with people, spending quality time with them and really appreciating the opportunities we had. Along with having to get my placement portfolio done and out the way, before I knew it it was time to fly back! All happened a little fast!
Most people were unaware I was coming back to Kenya for another 6 months and that I was back for good, so was a bit of a shock, but seemed more normal that I was away now, was all very weird being able to txt, call and see people when ever i wanted to!

So just days till i was due to go away I lost my passport, had no idea how I was getting to the airport, had no malaria tablets, no organisation at all had so many things to do in so little time. Thankfully it all worked out just in time and within hours to go...

Next thing I was at the airport staring the plane straight in the face, last minute phone calls and crazy banter with Charlotte before I jetted off! This is it another 6 months, KENYA here I come! Let's see what's in store this time...

Goodbye England!