After completing my grad program at UC – Berkeley, I took a gap year to pause, unplug and rediscover myself. Traveling, teaching, staying at orphanages and working with different NGOs has helped me develop a broader perspective on many areas of life. I wanted to live with the local families and spend as much time at the orphanages as possible so that I could help out with the best of my abilities – with my education or simply my time.
In Kenya, our day started with a morning ride in a “Matatu”, a 10-12 seat van with at least 15 or more people. Sometimes we would get lucky and get a Matatu that was equipped with sub buffers. With local Kenyan music blaring, even getting to our orphanage from our home stay family was an adventure.
The first chore of the day at the orphanage was helping the nannies with preparing porridge for the kids. Once the porridge was served we had to help clean and take care of the dishes. While one of volunteers would help in the kitchen, the others helped the kids with their daily Math, English or Art lessons.
There was one teacher who came to teach all the kids at the orphanage. The kids were divided into two separate classes. The younger kids were taught basic Math, English and Art skills while the older kids were taught advanced subjects that would be required to pass the test for high school admission. After morning study sessions, the volunteers would help in the kitchen to prepare lunch. The daily menu included mainly Ugali, a dish of maize flour cooked with water, rice and beans.
Staying at the orphanage helped me develop a broader perspective on many areas of life. It was fascinating to see that the definition of a normal family to the kids was an orphanage with 19 kids and 3 nannies that took care of them. All the kids played, were schooled and grew up inside the orphanage. I absolutely can’t wait to go back and see all the kids.