We really enjoyed having Erin to volunteer with us in Kenya in our special needs program placements. Erin graduated from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, United States of America with her Bachelors degree in Health Sciences and her Masters degree in Occupational Therapy and decided to travel to Kenya after hearing other volunteers speak so highly of their experiences with NVS. “I was on a volunteer trip in Guatemala, and a lot of the volunteers I met there were raving about Kenya. I was excited to hear that Kenya had a special needs program, and as an Occupational Therapist, I new I could help share my skills” says Erin. She also added that she was quite curious about Africa. Who isn’t right?!
Erin notes that “Networks for Voluntary Services made my experience in Kenya absolutely amazing. They were passionate in placing me somewhere that I would have an impact, and were very professional. If I ever needed anything at any moment, they would go the extra mile to help me out. ”
Erin was able to work in three special needs schools and one had over 300 kids. “I was at St. Patrick’s School for the Mentally Handicapped, Joytown School for the Physically Handicapped and an autism classroom in a public school in Thika. I also worked for three weeks in an orphanage in Kayole.”
One thing to keep in mind about coming to Kenya is that things will be different from your home country. especially when it comes to availability of resources and equipment. Erin says “the kids, teachers and physiotherapists in Kenya taught me so much. I was making hand splints out of old flip flops, wheelchairs out of lawn chairs and bicycle tires. In the United States I’m spoiled with all the the rehab equipment right at my fingertips – I really learned how to adapt to what resources I had in every situation.”
When we asked Erin about the impact that her experiences had upon her, she shared a few thoughts that probably came with happy tears. She said that she thinks about Kenya everyday. “The joy and happiness I experienced taught me so much about myself and the world around me. I left with a little personal motto “pendo ni dawa” (love is medicine), which guides how I interact with people on a daily basis.” Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Erin!