2020/2021 winners reports
Kenya - Shona Starks
Dear Mr Mason,
I would like to thank you once again for the contribution that the scholarship fund made to my term volunteering at Pembroke House School in Kenya. The three months I spent there were some of the most incredibly rewarding and educational months of my Gap Year. It taught me so much about myself and the beautiful country of Kenya, and this would not have occurred without your generosity and support. Therefore, I have written a report to you describing everything I learnt from my trip, with continual thanks.
Upon arrival in the small town of Gilgil, we got to the school and I was assigned to teach in the Pre-Prep. It was very daunting at first as I had no prior experience dealing with children, especially those of such a young age. However, I quickly came to love teaching them. It was amazing to see their development in such a short space of time, knowing that the fundamental skills they were learning- reading, writing and drawing- formed the foundations of their future education. My favourite part about my work in the Nursery was the extended time spent outside in nature, experiencing the African outdoors. It became very clear that the 4 year olds knew more about the dangerous Kenyan wildlife that I did! I also enjoyed reading them stories, painting, and teaching them phonics by singing songs. Although the children were taught in English, they had fundamental Kiswahili lessons which I was lucky enough to sit in on. I managed to pick up a few phrases, aided by my informal language lessons from my lovely Kenyan colleagues, and of course the children themselves.
As well as working in the Pre-Prep, I coached the year 6 netball which I thoroughly enjoyed. Teaching them sports was so rewarding and I remember getting a bit too invested in their first ever win! I also occasionally helped with the rugby, running the lines for one of their biggest events of the year- the nDume 7s tournament. Being on the other side of school sports, as opposed to playing, was something I’ve always wanted to experience. I saw more of the older year groups, not only during sports, but in their boarding houses where I had supervising duties. In the morning at 7.15, I would have to wake them up for inspection and ensure their beds were made and their uniform tidy. I learnt to love these early wake ups as the children’s high spirits would always set the tone for my day. I also often put them to bed at night, helping with their mosquito nets and reading bedtime stories.
Aside from working at Pembroke, I had some free time in which I would visit Restart Africa. This is a centre which offers abandoned Kenyan children a safe haven away from drugs, violence and homelessness. It was a very eye opening initiative to be involved with, which truly exposed the struggles that a lot of the Kenyan community face. Playing football and watching them laugh and have fun at Restart was extremely inspiring. I hope to return in the near future and see the how far the children have come. Also in my free time, I managed to explore other areas of Kenya and it’s diverse landscape. I spent lots of time in Soysambu conservancy and Lake Elementatia, observing the amazing safari animals. We visited the cities of Naivasha, Nairobi and Nakuru, whilst also spending some time at the coast in Watamu and the mountains in the Abaderes.
I feel extremely grateful to have experienced Kenya in such depth, and it goes without saying that without the fund’s support I would not have been able to do so. I left my trip feeling like a different person, with a new interest for things like East African History, Wildlife Conservation and education in general. I hope to take these passions into my studies at University in a few weeks.
I hope from my report you can see how amazing my time in Kenya was. Life at Pembroke was extremely fulfilling and I will miss the whole entire Gilgil community. I cannot thank you enough for your generosity in facilitating this unique experience.
I have attached some photos of Gilgil, the Mara, Watamu and some of the Children I taught.