Organization: Dago Dala Hera Girl's Orpganage
In May 2013, ASB returned to Kenya to work with the Dago Dala Hera Orphanage. The team of 14 members was excited to meet everyone involved, and especially the Odoyo family who started the organization.
Once the team arrived in Dago at the Odoyo compound, where they would be living for the next month they were welcomed with a thunderstorm. The team all crowded inside the Odoyo’s living room to drink Masala tea, a Kenyan specialty, and receive an introduction to the organization and a speech from Duncan Odoyo ending with the infamous words “feel free”.
The team did not hesitate to start working on their projects. The team dived head first into assisting local workers in building a granary for the Dago Dala Hera girl’s orphanage. While working team members were also able to interact with the primary school class while they were on break. The team played many games with the children such as duck, duck, goose and a favourite Odingo, which was taught to the ASB team by the children. Members were also presented with the opportunity to re-organize the library located at the orphanage and paint welcome signs inside to add to the artwork that was painted by a previous ASB team.
Once the building of the granary was complete the team was given the opportunity to weed an area of land and prepare it for farming. This would allow the orphange to grow more produce, which will then result in reducing their food costs. This job was tougher than the team thought and took some time but was completed, with a little help from some of the children, and together the team planted kale in the farm.
Not only did the ASB team work at the girl’s orphanage but they also assisted teachers at the school, conducted home visits, worked to help the opening of a computer resource center and ran workshops at Kick it With Kenya Youth Edition. Members who wanted to teach were given the opportunity to work with teachers in the subject of their choice, create lesson plans with a partner according to where the teacher had left off in the curriculum and teach 30 min. classes. Teaching allowed members the opportunity to work independently with their partners and experienced the realities of working in a classroom. Members taught many subjects such as English, Social Studies, Math and Science.
Home visits were a unique add on to ASB’s list of projects. This project allowed small groups of members to meet with a family who has been affected by HIV/AIDS and assist them on their farms. Members woke up at 5am and headed to the family’s house, they would help weed farms, plant fruits and vegetables and assist with daily chores. During one of the home visits Jeffrey Patterson, formed a connection with the family he was working with, Mama Mary and her children Christie, Edwin, Harriet, and (Oldest son, can’t remember name) He proposed the idea to build a stove and structure for the family, who previously cooked on three coals and an open fire in the house. Jeffrey along with his team; Joanna Manka, Catherine Melo, Arleigh Hack and Melissa Lopez, raised the money and worked with locals to build the stove and structure. Mama Mary now has a safer environment and tools to cook for herself and her children.
Another project that ASB members participated in was the re-vamp of the resource centre that is run by George Odoyo. The resource center provides affordable computer and internet services for the community and conducts computer literacy classes for children and adults. Team members painted and assisted in the grand re-opening of the centre providing free classes for members of the community. The opening was a huge success, which included a celebration and many attendees. ASB wishes George Odoyo luck and hopes all is working well at the resource centre!
Finally, during the teams last weekend, members ran workshops at the Kick it With Kenya Youth Edition. Kick it with Kenya is a soccer tournament that occurs in August with the adults in the community as an HIV/AIDS awareness project. However, this year ASB funded the first Kick it with Kenya Youth Edition and focused on health promotion, entrepreneurship and goal setting. Team members created workshops focusing on these three topics that were held in between games. Overall, the day was a huge success and it ended with a win and Dago being named champions of the tournament, congratulations Team Dago!
Overall, the trip was a huge success. Not only were members engaged in multiple projects throughout the month, but they also made strong connections with community members. Members spent their free time playing with children in the community, playing Kenyan poker with the Odoyo family, and spending time in the kitchen with Mama Helida, Mama Lucy and Mama PJ helping to cook meals or simply dancing around.
After spending four weeks among the Dago community, the ASB team had to say a tearful goodbye to everyone and make the journey back to Nairobi to come home. The team learned an immense amount from the community and will not forget their month in Dago.
ASB offers many thanks to everyone who donated to make this trip possible, InspireU International, Dani Dye, the Dago community and Odoyo family.
Mambo Sawa Sawa!
Organization: Dago Dala Hera Girl's Orphanage
In May of 2010, 14 students flew half way across the world to participate in a month long volunteer project in Kenya. Two planes and one ten hour bus ride later we arrived in Dago, a small rural village in the west. We slept in simple rooms forgoing running water and electricity and ate local foods cooked over an open flame.
Working with the Dago Dala Hera organisation was a dream as they encouraged us to choose and create our own projects. Together with the community we built two latrines, painted the inside and outside of a girls’ orphanage and as we had some very talented artists with us we painted inspirational murals on the interior walls. We taught English, math, science and social studies in the school, planted a garden and started ASB’s very first Girls’ Club. We also handed out donated school supplies and organized a community clean up. We had children surrounding us all the time who were priceless sources of daily inspiration and made every waking moment an absolute delight. We were challenged to soccer matches almost every day and spent countless hours in the homes of various community members learning what it is actually like to live in a rural village in Kenya; helping with daily chores, farming and taking care of the children. We felt welcomed everywhere we went and it wasn’t long before we embodied this common Kenyan expression: “Just Feel Free.”
The ASB team was also faced with many challenges, not only as individuals, but as a team. We overcame them with grace and maturity creating the perfect conditions for self discovery and personal growth. We worked selflessly alongside the community and opened ourselves up to a learning experience that cannot be duplicated in a classroom; pushing our personal limitations and expanding our comfort zones. We all became part of the community, gained new family and created lifelong friendships. The experience not only opened our eyes up to a new culture and way of life, but helped us understand the issues that communities such as this face on a daily basis forcing us to redefine our concept of crisis. The lessons that we took from this experience are with us every day and continue to inspire and motivate us in ways that are indescribable.