Our Nyumbani programs in Kenya welcome and depend on the wide-ranging expertise and willing enthusiasm of a hardy corps of volunteers from around the world. Read about one of our recent Nyumbani Village volunteers Carlota!
Hometown: Madrid, Spain
University: Comillas Pontificial University
Date of arrival in village: 29th June 2017
Tell us a little about yourself: To start with, I always like to describe myself as a normal person. I love hanging out with my family and friends (and also my dog!) as I’m very familiar and outgoing, but I also need to spend some time on my own. In addition, I am a curious person who’s trying to understand the chaotic world in which we live a little bit better. That’s why I like to travel a lot and meet people from different backgrounds. Finally, just mention that in my free time I’m a lawyer
How did you hear about Nyumbani? Through friends who had already volunteered at Nyumbani; through Amor Solá, the former president of Nyumbani’s Spanish Board and through my university.
Why did you decide to come and volunteer? I’ve always wanted to volunteer abroad because it makes you a more open-minded person but, most of all, because it raises awareness on oneself. Only by becoming aware of the world’s real problems, can we actually do something to try to solve those problems. I feel that in Western societies we take many things for granted (ie. water, electricity, food, healthcare) and focus on more superficial problems. I speak for myself, but, let’s take the example of having the “need” to buy the latest trend in fashion. These needs aren’t real needs in the majority of countries. And what’s more surprising? That those in many countries, with less, live happier and less stressful lives. You learn to realize that we don’t need the majority of things we own in order to have a satisfactory and fulfilling life.
What are your initial thoughts on the Village? I could never imagine that the Village was so big. Literally, it’s a huge village owned by the NGO. There are over 1,000 kids living there, plus stuff! It’s totally incredible what Nyumbani has achieved. The experience cannot be anything but great; I’ve never felt so happy and so self-fulfilled. I really felt like I was needed there, and I had never felt that way before-nor in my job! It’s impossible not to be always happy-just by looking at those smiling and happy faces you feel automatically happy. If these kids can be happy under these hard circumstances (being orphans and some of them having, in addition, HIV/AIDS) why can’t we be happy too? You learn to relativize what we consider “problems”.
What projects or activities have you been doing? Primarily, I’ve been an English teacher in Hot Courses Primary School and in Lawson High School, as well as a beauty teacher in the Polytechnic. Also, on Tuesdays I helped with the distribution of food to the susus (grandma’s).
What has been the most memorable story or experience yet? I’ve had several, I’ll stand out the following:
In Lawson High School, I taught students to write informal letters. I made the students write their own letters in groups and then they had to read them out loud to the rest of the class. Some students wrote letters dedicated to me saying that they weren’t good at English but that, with the help of my classes, they were sure they were going to pass their next English exam. Also, they wrote that they were going to miss me very much when I left for my country. It’s incredible to see how thankful these kids are! I could also develop and enhance a strong and personal relationship with some of them, and I was very happy to know that they considered me a friend.
A couple of years ago I friend of mine volunteered for a couple of months. He really liked to play with a small boy called Chalo. One day, I was playing with some boys and, when I asked their names, one of them said “Chalo”. I showed Chalo a picture of my friend and he said he remembered him (he was a practically a baby when my friend went!). Later, I sent a video of Chalo to my friend where he asked him to come and visit him. When he saw the video, he couldn’t believe how much he had grown up and how he had improved in English!! This was very sweet and heartbreaking at the same time-it’s incredible to see how can we impact the lives of the children.
What would you advise others who were thinking of coming to Nyumbani to volunteer?
You have to always go with a positive and open-minded attitude, and laugh about things, as the hygiene conditions are anything but Western. That said, it is important to stand out that this is the most enriching experience I’ve had in all my short life. I absolutely recommend it!
As it’s usually said, while volunteering you receive more than what you give. These children have stolen a piece of my heart, and now we are attached forever.
Thank you Carlota!