Our volunteers have come over the years from differnt walks of life.
Here are a few highlights...
"Little did I know when I got on the plane how big an adventure I was really on. Headed to Vipingo to volunteer at Future Hope from three months was in fact only just the beginning! People say that you either love or hate Kenya. I certainly loved it. The sounds, smells, vibrant colours, the beautiful sing song greetings of Swahili and the open kindness of most people you come across far out weighed the crazy roads and laid back Kenyan time keeping. I most certainly appeared to be a fish out of water as the only 'muzungu' (white) girl in the village but Carol and Peter, the children and staff at Future Hope very quickly gave me an anchor, before I knew it Kenya and Future Hope had become home. Every moment for the next few months (and even years to be honest!) was such an experience. I kept a daily journal for a while...here are some of my favourite entries;
I have never arrived anywhere and had a warmer welcome than I did at Future Hope. As I climbed out of the car I was greeted by so many little smiling faces. It was like walking through a sea of hands; giving me high fives from every direction.
During break time a little boy who kept seeking me out was crying. I went over to him and picked him up for a cuddle. It was such a strange sad moment when I realised he was unsure how to be cuddled. He sat rigid on my knee as I stroked his back, then he took a big sigh leaned into me, relaxed and fell asleep in my arms. I knew I was smitten from then on. It costs nothing to give a hug.
A spontaneous singing session turned into me singing with over half the school!! Even some of the teachers came over to learn a new song. The children loved it. It’s a truly amazing feeling to look at so many happy faces and know you helped put those smiles there!
A trip into Vipingo for a tour was wonderful. Children peeping out at me waving and calling ‘jambo’. As we walked along one, then two, then three children and soon many many more started following us ‘muzungu in Vipingo’ was the chorus as we walked. I felt like the pied piper!!They were very friendly, just curious to see who I was. It was refreshing that they didn’t ask for anything, they just wanted me to smile and greet them.
The tour of the village took me to other local schools...they were in a bad state, crammed full of children, with barely any resources. Future Hope really shone after that. I knew it was a lovely school, but to see it's comparisons made me realise why the children at Future Hope are so happy. They know they are lucky.
I gave them all a stamp on their hands with a felt tip stampers (a firm favourite as if one child has a stamp they all want to have one!). Just seeing how excited they got about a stamp, put things into perspective; such small things can give so much pleasure. I didn’t want to leave school for the weekend today.
In fact...I didn't wan't to leave at all. I stayed for five years!! When I used to email new volunteers, I would let them know that it is very easy to get stuck her and so they should come ready for anything!!!" Sian
"George and I travelled to Future Hope School without much knowledge of what we were to expect. We had both just finished school and were excited and nervous in equal measure but in honesty, nothing could have prepared us for our time out there. We turned up at the village, both of us virtually see-through after an English winter and working night-shifts to be welcomed by the sound of the sea, a local football match and Simon; our wonderful host. Simon showed us our houses that we were to be staying in (very safe and clean and about a stone's throw from the school) and took us for supper at his restaurant. The rest is really a blur. Two months flew by as we got stuck into teaching classes, putting on a play, travelling up and down the coast on weekends, working at a game park through a contact with a teacher, doing midnight beach patrols for turtles...oh, and the Tuskers. Always the Tuskers. Teaching the children was an incredible experience and I can't recommend it enough to anyone. We mainly taught I.C.T, English, Sports and Drama, although it feels like a lot more when you are there! The school is fairly small and set around a lush, green, play field, with a climbing range, sand pit and more dotted around. To be honest, the days are full on and unlike many other experiences I've heard from people who have travelled and taught, you are not left around twiddling your thumbs. The school is very well-run and the children want to learn so there is always a way to contribute. Having said that, the teachers don't just throw you in front of a class of 40 and expect you to get on with it. The classes are usually no bigger than twenty and all the teachers were fantastic in easing us in and getting the most out of us. Vipingo as a village is brilliant, you can get bikes for your stay and bike about twenty minutes to a completely deserted and stunning beach, think white sand and turquoise water. There are countless small shops to get bare essentials in the village and a couple of places to eat, drink, dance and of course, watch the football (in the butcher's living room). In terms of getting around, we mainly used the local bus service and it's very simple to get to towns up and down the coast. There is also a strong sense of care from the village for you. One time we were coming back late at night on a bus and got off at the wrong stop in the dark. Although we didn't think that we knew anyone on the bus, within minutes we were getting texts and phone calls from everyone we knew asking if we were alright because word had got around. I know a lot of friends who went off and worked or taught as part of an organisation and while I have never experienced that side of things and thus can't exactly compare, from what I have gathered Future Hope is a totally different, and far more meaningful set-up. There is no molly-coddling from Team Leaders who are making sure you get home safe with a few stories. You are not led around the village by hand and set to a specific time-table. There is no sense of turning up, getting an 'experience' and then leaving with a bag full of photos. Future Hope is a school that is run by people who deeply care for the children and the village and when you work there, you become part of the family. I personally wouldn't recommend anything less that two months; it takes a while to learn the language to a very basic level and in honesty, the children deserve more than people popping in and out after a month. Future Hope is an incredible school run by amazing teachers for truly remarkable children. As a volunteer working there, I can guarantee that it will change your life." Hector
"This is two wonderful weeks in October 2012 that will stay with me forever, a very special time. My first visit to Kenya, my first visit to the school, my first massive Kenyan welcome. My daughter Sian had gone out to Future Hope as a volunteer a year previously. I had been so inspired by her enthusiasm for the children and school that I wanted to add my own contribution.
To cut a long story short, a successful grant application I made to the Arts Council of Wales had given funding to run a Musical Call & Response across the World, namely between Future Hope and two Welsh primary schools. This happened over several months, and with much zest. Many children in Future Hope and two schools in Wales were making up songs for each other, having them recorded, giving musical responses to each other, asking each other questions, talking and singing about their lives, sending each other photos and videos, all through the medium of dropbox. Sian was the coordinator in Future Hope, myself in Wales, a big undertaking for both of us. The idea was to make the CD we now of course have as a result of this project.
There was a real buzz to the project over that year, and nearing its end, when I came to do music sessions in the school, we built on that lovely enthusiasm. I also had the opportunity to record some further music and harmonies for the CD. Over those two weeks, I worked with every class, every child, with every teacher. Sian had organised a whole schedule for me to make sure no child missed out. She had brought some small instruments out to the school already, I brought more with me, and we also used what the school already had. We did body percussion, rhythm games, songs, musical activities, rap, beat box. I played my fiddle and the children danced and clapped. It was a lot of fun for me as well as the children. Working in the heat was quite a challenge, and trying to remember everyone’s name, and learn some Kiswahili too!
I was welcomed so very warmly and enthusiastically by the children, by the staff, by the cooks, by everyone I met there; Mama Sian who had come all the way from Wales and who was going to put their songs on CD. The cooks, Zawadi, Esther and Purity sang a great Swahili song to me and let me record them doing it, That too is on CD, likewise an uplifting short song by teacher Anthony.
On my last day, I gave a short concert for the school, outside with everyone on the grass. Issa set up the PA and I used my loop station to build up songs and tunes as I played. This was very well received and caused quite a stir—not an everyday occurrence! I was sad to say my goodbyes when the time had come. I left feeling very ‘full’ and very warmed by the whole incredible experience. Asante sana.
The CD ‘Kenya Cymru Call & Response’ has raised over £3000 for the school so far. It is timeless, uplifting, a real credit to all the children, and still available from the school or through the website. I highly recommend it."
Tony and I felt so very privileged to be a part of this amazing school and were welcomed so warmly by all. My lasting memories will be of the lovely ladies in the kitchen working over charcoal and smiling as they worked to feed all 120 children to the teachers who delivered such fun learning experiences and the care given to the children who were not well and given medication and, more importantly love and support, to the incredibly talented football skills (without shoes) of the boys. I can honestly say it was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life and one we intend to repeat when we can."Maryann
"When I volunteered at Future Hope School I was made to feel very welcome by the staff and the children who all so friendly. The school had a wonderful atmosphere and it was clear to see that it provides a great education for all the children it supports which is a credit to the charity, management, Headmaster and teaching staff. Sian settled me in and was on hand at any time for support. I helped to organise and carry out activities, joined in with a variety of lessons. I had endless fun and it was such a joy to see the children so happy and striving in a positive learning environment.
The accommodation was basic but clean and comfortable with a fridge, fan and electrics. I feel extremely privileged to have been a part of such a wonderful and for filling experience. I had only originally booked six weeks and extended my stay to three months and would love to return." Nicky
"Future Hope Montessori School gave me hope for the future too. Kenya and especially the life in the village was such a special experience, that it is nearly impossible to describe it. In the first weeks it felt like your entire world is turned upside down. All these "new" things to learn, the language, the way of living, the considerably few things you have compared to your home. The beautiful landscape. And of course, the most lovely people I have ever met. They offer such big hospitality and live with pure joy in their lives. Even though sometimes it hurt a bit, the pain ended up in excitement about the things you learned, and the experiences which you will have for the rest of your life. Becoming part of the whole staff team and making friends with all the children didn't take long at all. On the one hand you will always be the "mzungu", but you are still a part of the community. And that's what it's all about. Getting to know a total different world." Benno
"The time in Kenya was magical.