Overall Rating:/ 10Arriving in Nairobi felt like a complete assault on all my senses. Arriving for what would be my seventh trip to sub-Saharan Africa, the overwhelming noises, colours and general bustling even around the airport reminded me of why it is that I keep hopping on planes back to the continent. This time, I was in Kenya to spend three weeks completing research for my MA dissertation and to spend some time volunteering in the IDP camp where I hoped to conduct some interviews.
The IDP camp is situated in the Rift Valley, about an hour and a half outside of Nairobi, near the town in Maai Mahui. Formed as a result of the 2007 post-election violence, a period that was the closest Kenya has ever come to civil war as the country was torn apart by ethnic rivalries and political instability, the camp is home to approximately 600 families. Whilst some have had houses built by NGO’s, others who arrived later still live in make shift tent houses even 8 years after the violence.
My time was spent largely in the school set up to educate children from the camp, which was set up by Marafiki Community International. Whilst most of my days were spent conducting interviews, I was lucky enough that the headteacher Edward allowed me to teach some lessons for the older classes including English and History, as well as joining in with PE lessons for all ages. I spent break times being hugged and jumped on, whilst the little girls practiced their hair styling on me and the older boys took hundreds of photos for me. It was a school that was filled with laughter and fun, from the baby class right up to the teacher’s staff room.
My time in Kenya exceeded all of my expectations and more. The camp was a place full of kindness and people that support each other, despite their hardships. I met some people who had suffered unspeakable violence and had come through it to survive. They were some of the most inspiring people I have ever met. My host family, at both the camp and in Kikuyu town were supportive and taught me a huge amount about the country and the violence I was researching. They genuinely felt like my family by the time I left.
My trip has left me with some of the vital research I hoped to achieve, but more importantly, it has left me with memories I will keep forever and friends and surrogate family that I will definitely keep in contact with and visit again. So to everyone at Love Volunteers, thank you so much for your role and support in this trip.