Hello, Im Sarah, Im a primary teacher with 7 years experience, and Im taking a sabbatical year from my job in order to volunteer in Kenya.
Its just over a week until I leave, and Im a mixture of nerves and excitement! Im still packing as Ive had to move out of my flat as well as packing my suitcases, but things are definitely coming together now. I am really excited to get to Nairobi, settle into my accommodation and get started at the pre-school where Im going to be based.
The pre-school is called Mahali Pa Watoto, which in Swahili means a place for the children. It is located in Dagoretti, a village on the outskirts of Nairobi where most of the inhabitants live in poor condition housing with no electricity, water or sanitation. It is funded by a UK charity, the Seedsowing Network (www.seedsowing.co.uk) and teaches reading, writing and arithmetic with only basic facilities and equipment. The children are also provided with breakfast and a hot dinner each day, which is very important as their families may not be able to feed them enough.
My role to begin with will be to observe and understand how the school day and the curriculum work, and to assist the teachers. From my weeks of observation I will hopefully be able to pick out the strengths and weaknesses of the teaching as it now stands, and make suggestions as to how to raise standards this is the schools aim as they are hoping to attract a certain number of fee-paying pupils in January so that the school starts to become more self-funding.
My main worries are coping with leaving my family and my boyfriend behind, and building relationships with the teachers. I dont want to seem like I am coming to tell them what they are doing wrong, and I know that I will have no effect unless I can gain their trust and friendship first. I hope we can get on well and know that we all have the interests of the children at heart.
The children are going to be the best part of my trip. Having visited the pre-school earlier this year, I know that they are absolutely amazing, so eager to learn and so full of joy. I know I will gain more from them than I can possibly give back. I hope to have my attitudes challenged and changed by my experience of living in Kenya and getting to know the children and their families as well as the school staff.