Karibu to Kenya! – How I spend my Volunteer Time Off
By: Diana Terry, Director UKI Solution Engineering, Salesforce
I’m nervous preparing for this trip to Kenya, news stories and worst case scenarios run through my head making me both anxious and excited.
We land and it’s not as hot as I imagined. A long journey awaits for our weekend safari before getting started at the Karibu Centre. Karibu means welcome in Swahili.
We’re treated like close friends at Kirafu House. It’s a thrilling and unique experience in a luxury location that sleeps 12 people in the middle of 64K acres, the Lewa Conservancy. We see endangered black and white rhinos, cheetah brothers, elephants and their new born, lions and lionesses and much more. Bumping along in the jeep like wondrous children with wide smiles.
We are sad to leave the exquisite Kirafu House with their wonderful friendly staff and impeccable service and I’m not sure what to expect of the week ahead of us as we arrive back into Thika and the Karibu Centre.
At the Karibu Centre
The kids have torn clothes, some have no shoes and grime on their beautiful little bright faces. They run out at me with little hands to touch me. Are they wondering if I feel the same? I lose count of the high fives as they whirlwind around me.
We are welcomed and feel like family. Nobody warned me just how incredibly warm and caring Kenyans were.
Luke and the team of 20 staff work across multiple areas to assist this community. There’s a daycare for babies so their parents can find work; pre-school to ensure when ready the children can pass the entry exam for their local primary schools; after school care they call STEAM like STEM except they’ve added arts for the local primary school children to broaden their horizons. Along with this there’s social assistance for parents and community members. All 100 preschool children’s parents get a social worker visit from Steve or Florence every term and there’s a parent club to help discuss important topics like hygiene and communication.
The centre runs mostly on donations and resides on 10 acres. Luke had a brain wave and started to grow Aloe he calls it #AloeforEducation. They hire up to 50 parents from the community to harvest the aloe and produce high quality soaps to sell hoping to become a social enterprise. Along with Samson milking the cow each day and Nelson harvesting the vegetables and fruits that all go towards feeding the children and staff.
We took part in multiple areas. Dami and I worked hard to create a V2MOM and a social enterprise business plan with Luke and Troy focused on getting Salesforce up and running with a project register for future volunteers.
We had help every step of the way with Steve and Flo the lead social workers, Kelly who protected me from the mean geese. Mary, Josephine and Baboo who took such wonderful care of us! Deliciously prepared food every day. The teachers who let us join the classes, teaching the kids how to play memory with a deck of cards. The carers Flora and Joanne who let us cuddle the babies and taught me a local song and some interesting dance moves!!
The last day came and we all sang, danced, hugged these people we now call friends. They thanked us and we thanked them for their hospitality, patience and sharing their world with us. The terrible realisation that we could do so much more streamed down my face with the tears as we drove away.
Since coming back home, many have asked me ‘how much can you actually do in a week?’ The answer is simple – a tonne of good in SO many different ways!
We’re already planning our trip back next year! What’s your plan?
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