Post Info TOPIC: My Expereince
Alice McGahey

My Expereince

I had no idea how rewarding teaching could be, until I started teaching in Kenya on August-September 2006.I have never met children who are so eager to learn. This eagerness really motivates you to try your hardest to find sponsors and donors to help the children's families pay for them to come to school, and for the school to carry on educating them. You know that you are living and working in a poor area, but until you actually visit some of the families you have no idea how difficult it is for them.





Hi Alice.
A few year ago, my husband, sister and I travelled and did some vacation work abroad in
My most memorable experience was going into the Mongolian countryside. We ate a traditional Mongolian BBQ, stayed in a traditional Ger and went horse riding. We met children at a summer camp, which was truly amazing. When we arrived there, they all looked so happy. They were playful and friendly and I didnt want to leave! I now feel that next year, I should make a trip back there to see how they are doing. I also want to ask from the officials if we can adopt one kid, and bring it, to stay with us.

Gemma Cavill, UK.

Yulia Holko


My name is Yulia Holko from United States. I took part in Kenya Maasai area in a Teaching program, in Novermber 2008.

The experience was very worthwhile. I've never been so immersed into a culture so different from mine. My mind was like a sponge, soaking in the traditions, the language, the colors of the Maasai clothes and the beautiful sunrises over the Ngong Hills, the smell of chapatis coming out of the smoky manyanta, the kids' laughter... and the poverty.

I learned to be more appreciative of the good and thinking of ways to help eradicate the bad. I learned to appreciate clean water. I saw the role of education in people's lives. I saw the government failing poor families and the education system failing the children. I saw civilization crawling deeper into the Maasailand and taking away the traditions that made them who they are for centuries. I've seen changes for the better and changes for the worse. Yet amidst that I saw kind, smiling people, happy with little, giving away the little they have to their guests, showing great hospitality and thoughtfulness, making me feel welcome, making me feel like I belong thousands of miles away from home.

I truly feel like I have another family in Kenya, and that I am missed, and that I am welcome back home, and it's a feeling I wouldn't trade for anything. This trip gave me lots of good ideas. I've been always interested in the work revolving around East Africa region, and I will be writing a lot about this, and possibly exhibiting photos, but in whatever work I do, this experience helped me gain focus. I've seen areas and met people that truly need a lift, and I've seen many others lying to take advantage of you.

Virginia took us to some really poor families, and mama Maasai in Nairobi took us to Kibera, and those are the two experience that will stay imprinted in my mind. Being around the school a lot, reading textbooks, talking to children and teachers, and reading Kenyan newspapers gave me a good overall picture of the state of education. I know that that's the area toward which I want to direct my efforts in the future and I hope my work will take me there. I met lots of interesting, inspiring people both in the Maasailand and in Nairobi, and among them was a group of friends working to build a school for children displaced by war in South Sudan, a project in which I got involved.

I was lucky enough to attend an Indian engagement reception and the Kenyan music week, do a mini safari through the Nakuru National Park and the beautiful Samburu. I've seen so many great places, yet I think those are the people I've met in Kenya that made my experience there truly worthwhile.

Thanks for everything, and thanks for being such a face-to-face expereince.



My friend Arthur and I had an absolutely wonderful time in last July 2008! Everything was great.....the few staff, local food, the wild-animal work at the Zoo, and tin forest.We really think its very important that these beautiful but venerable animals get the protection they need, and this project is the perfect way to do this. For me, volunteering there was a unique, unforgettable and learning experience as nature and animal lover.

Kate MacKenzie,

Maria Kallat


I volunteered for only one month in September 2008 with a rural human rights center. Although I feel this was a very limited period, I think I have been able to do many things, which will not only affect me as a person, but also improve the situation of victims of rights abuse s in Kenia, and people in my country of Austria.

Now that we are back in home together with Philip Darabos and Pröll Josef, having some time to reflect on this trip to Africa, there is no doubt that it was one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. We hope to ensure that we take these experiences and use them in our everyday lives in the future!

Ms Kallat
Sankt Pölten.

Katrina McBride


I enjoyed my brief period in Kenya at Gilgil orphanage. I cried my eyes out when I realised that my days of volunteering there were now over, and had to leave the beautiful children, and to return home. I had developed strong emotional attachment with them. Leaving them behind almost felt like a great personal loss. The last day, we had a lovely farewell party.  But I did not sleep that night, I felt restless, I was not at peace and my mind raced forth-and-back. It was like saying bye bye to my own brothers and sisters before going for a long trip for years. I miss them, I love them all.
One day, i will take work off to return and say hello to them, and bring some gifts with me.

Cheung-Meng James Pang


Dental Clinic Volunteering

Helping people is one of the main reasons for me to choose a career in dentistry. I've also had a deep desire to apply what Ive learnt at dental school to help those less fortunate than myself, and explore different cultures and 'make a difference to the world'. Hence my desire to leap at the opportunity to volunteer in Africa! I really wanted to experience a different way of life and see what the dental healthcare system was like. Having no experience of volunteering abroad I went using a non-profit volunteer organization Touch Humanity International Voluntary Services (THIVS) who did healthcare projects in Kenya.

Offering the entire dental school's students to come along, there was considerable interest from other students. Eventually it was a group of 8 other fellow Bristol University Dental students who agreed to go. I had not organized an overseas volunteering trip like this before so it was also a new experience for me to plan, organise and lead a group of fellow colleagues!

The flight took over 8 hours. Arriving in Nairobi airport we were taken to THIVS offices to stay for the night. Due to water shortages there was no running water for the toilet and we had to constantly be wary of mosquitoes biting us! We were introduced to THIVS coordinator James Mwangi and John Ngatia the next day. The coordinators outlined what to expect on our placement and looked after us. I felt glad to be with them since Nairobi can be a dangerous place! We saw a mugging on the first night we were there!! They warned us of being wary of people selling us things or offering to help since many were out to con or even mug you. Always be wary when abroad!

Later we went on a 3 hour coach ('Matatus') drive to Nakuru. We saw the beautiful countryside filled with grazing animals such as zebra and baboons just lying next to the roadside and the majestic Lake Elementaita. Nakuru is the provincial capital of Kenya's Rift Valley province, has roughly 300,000 inhabitants, and is currently the fourth largest urban centre in the country.

Volunteering at Nakuru Provincial General Hospital at the dental clinic, it seemed a world away from Bristol Dental Hospital with the latter having over 130 dental chairs here there were only 5 dental chairs split into 4 bays here! The head nurse from Bristol would probably have a fit seeing the levels of hygiene control compared to Bristol! Patients spat into the waste bins next to the chairs since there was a shortage of running water. There seemed no need to wipe the chairs between patients either. In the oral surgery area it was more like a factory process where it was give a injection shot, send them back into a waiting area, then quickly inject the next patient ready for extraction on the adjacent dental chair. Easily we managed each to see over 10 patients and did over 15 extractions in just one morning! I felt a huge sense of sadness that most people had to opt for extractions for even the most minor tooth decay. This was mainly due to the poverty of the people and not being able to afford restorations or keeping oral hygiene adequate enough to sustain them. An extraction cost 100 shillings, nearly the equivalent to a pound in the UK. Restorations start from four times as much, a considerable sum for the average Kenyan around this area. Somehow my gripes about the NHS seemed to disappear quickly after experiencing this! Further we saw oral diseases such as Burketts Lyphoma which would be really rare to see in the UK.

Trying to learn how to communicate with patients in Swahili was a challenge in itself! I did manage to speak some basic dental words in Swahili e.g. 'Open!', 'Close' and of course 'Sorry!' by the end! Necessity is an excellent way of learning. Going to work every day on three-wheeled autorickshaw (Tuk-Tuk) wasalso fun!

We stayed with a Kenyan host family to get the most out of experiencing the Kenyan way of life. Living like a Kenyan was a fantastic experience. We felt the warmth of their hospitality and generosity by allowing us to stay in their home and encouraging us to help prepare and eat traditional Kenyan food. There were some inconveniences such as no running water but that was all forgotten with the kindness of our host family. We also visited and greeted the neighbors, which caused a stir since they rarely see foreigners keen to volunteer.

We also visited an orphanage in GilGil, a town outside of Nakuru. We met with the workers who dedicated themselves to providing a home for the homeless children who would be otherwise be neglected. The children seemed very happy to be at the orphanage they called home. Before visiting we purchased lots of toothpaste and toothbrushes from Nakuru to give to the children. We had a session in the orphanage hall where all the children were taught oral hygiene advice such as how to brush and not rinse out.

Going to Kenya usually means going on Safari so of course we visited one in Nakuru National Park. Experiencing wild animals you normally only see on television up close is something I recommend to everyone. Seeing a sea of pink with thousands of Flamigos at Lake Nakuru in the park is breathtaking.

In summary, I set out to help people and volunteer my skills to those less fortunate than myself, which I did and gained a huge sense of achievement from it. I feel far more confident leading people on projects, going to different countries to volunteer. I really appreciate the things we take for granted such as the NHS in the UK now. I also know despite only spending a relatively short time volunteering, even just helping a few less fortunate than ourselves still makes a difference to the world.

*Also Published in Bristol Dental Alumni Association Newsletter 2009.

James Pang. Email:


Note: The water shortage has since ended. Today, both the Hospital and Nakuru town has adequate water supply for all. Thank you. THIVS.

-- Edited by admin on Thursday 4th of March 2010 11:00:58 AM

Chris Newell


The more i engaged with the local community, the more i was inspired, This made it hard for me to leave the camp, and reality as i know it!


Schell Maria


Me I worked with girls rescue house in a village.

I ended up working at girls safe house in kenya with young girls running away from forced young marriages and forceful traditional circumcision! This was most amazing experience and gave me a wonderful lesson on another way of life, indigenous local culture, and country. It was very difficult and trying emotionally at times especially when i looked directly into these disturbed girl's beutiful eyes for long, but all together a wonderful life experience. I did feel much appreciated and that my civil service work abroad was worthwhile. I know the girls at the rescue house benefited from having me there to play, sing, comforting, helping with house work, teaching art and generally be their be friend! i know if they get chance for education, they have good future.

Coober Pedy;
South Australia.blankstare

-- Edited by admin on Wednesday 14th of July 2010 01:27:25 PM

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