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Friday, 31 December 2010

Volunteering with IHF in Kenya - Page 2

Written by Chris Heinrich
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You would think this work would be appreciated by the government and authorities – that someone else cared and provided for its most vulnerable people.  You would be wrong.  Threats to close the center were regular, and demands for bribes were just as frequent.  Several times the center's electricity was cut.


My year abroad brought me in contact with the worst of humanity.  There were those who thought only of their own gain, even when they had plenty, and they took without thought or concern from the mouths of children to feed their already swollen guts.   Before food could be distributed in East Pokot, chiefs demanded their favorites receive extra.


Then there was the best of humanity.  There were directors who worked long hours to exhaustion to assure that the children were cared for as best as possible and that enough money was raised to support them.  They paid for their own airfare to the center and received no money for their work.  And there were the children themselves who had suffered so much already in their lives but were taking advantage of the opportunity given them to make the best of their lives.


I went abroad to make some difference in the world.  I think I did that.  The children were healthy.  Their English improved.  They progressed from never before touching a computer to being competent typists.  But more than any good I personally did was the good done to me.  I learned a new appreciation not just for little comforts like flowing tap water and safe roads but the things that are not so obvious, like a society that conforms to rule under law.  I learned a new patience when things don't go according to plan.  And, of course, there were the children who shared with me their tribal songs and dances and invited me to join their games.  They came to visit and talk with me at the end of the day and let me know through their mere presence and smiles and hugs that the work I did, even if they didn't fully understand it, was appreciated.


Should you be interested in voluntourism yourself, consider strongly the International Humanity Foundation.  It takes seriously its mission to “educate the educated about the poor.”  Its six centers throughout Indonesia, Thailand and Kenya each offer a unique perspective on poverty and its myriad forms.  Spend a month with IHF and learn about the realities of urban poverty in Jakarta or tribal poverty in northern Thailand.


IHF is run entirely by volunteers and has no administration costs to assure that all donations go toward those who most need them, the children, and to keep voluntourist fees low, making it an affordable option for everyone.  Furthermore, IHF is flexible in visits by voluntourists.  You can stay for as little as a week or make a longer commitment.  To learn more, please visit



©Chris Heinrich

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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