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 current Nyumbani Village volunteers, Mary Kate O’Leary, and her work in the Village.
Name: Mary Kate O’Leary
Hometown: Milton, WI
University: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Date of arrival in Nyumbani Village: January 12th
Tell us a little about yourself:
I studied conversation biology, global health & environmental studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated in May 2015. I enjoy reading, running and yoga.
How did you hear about Nyumbani?
I came to Kenya in August of 2014 with Susan Gold and taught HIV/sexual health education at Nyumbani Children’s Home and multiple Lea Toto locations. We visited Nyumbani Village one day and I was very interested in the sustainable aspect of it.
Why did you decide to come and volunteer?
The Village has both the health and sustainable components that I am interested in. I knew that I wanted to take a gap year or two before I went to graduate school and because of my previous trip to Kenya and familiarity with the Nyumbani programs, I decided to volunteer at the Village. I considered doing the Peace Corps but I couldn’t make that long of a commitment and I wanted to be part of a program that would go on with or without me. The sustainability part of it was really important to me because I want to help, but I want it to be done the right way.
What are your initial thoughts on the Village? How has your experience been so far?
The village has been very good to me so far! It is pretty much just as I expected. I feel fortunate that I had visited the Village before so I knew what to expect. I am really enjoying the simple lifestyle here at the Village.
What projects or activities have you been doing?
I have been working in the sustainability department and have done various tasks including working in livestock, greenhouses and the shambas (farms). I am learning a lot about organic agriculture in semi-arid land. I am also getting a lot of hands on experience!
What has been the most memorable story or experience yet?
My most memorable experience at the Village was probably my first real day of work. I was sent with an intern named Afrow to go to livestock and I honestly had no clue what to expect. I ended up walking the goats through the bush, milked cows (which was way more difficult than I expected), boiled milk, collected eggs etc. I felt somewhat at home because I am from Wisconsin and it was nice to be surrounded with familiar territory. It is a day that I will never forget! I got to be a farmer and got a real understanding of the circle of life.
What would you advice others who were thinking of coming to Nyumbani to volunteer?
Make the most of your time here. Explore, be prepared to go out your comfort zone, do every activity you can, don’t say no and also bring a solar shower, it is life changing! Make the most of your free time and don’t be afraid to get dirty.
Inspired to volunteer? Visit here to learn more.