Surviving the challenge!

34519_406221194071_7120050_nMarcus is no stranger to our communities in Kenya and we miss him quite a bit! Marcus shares his story, but first, you might want to grab some popcorn and a soda. It is that kind of story!

“When I was in my late twenties, I travelled to East Africa to volunteer in Kenya to see what I could learn from a new culture and in exchange, offer my skills, time and resources. In this time, I co-founded an NGO to benefit vulnerable at-risk children and youth in Kenya, who live in an informal settlement (slum).Living and volunteering in the country for seven years, I invested my time and resources to the start-up phase of Kitendo Children’s Charity Programme. The years and resources I invested were productive.

1471990_10152043037693115_150295718_nWe built and established an early childhood development school with a programme incorporating early year education, feeding programme, health and psychosocial support, life skills and sponsorship for vocational and primary education. We also operated a women’s empowerment project, medical camps and sustainability projects. These projects are still operating 9 years later and are self sustaining!

Providing local jobs to our community members and volunteer opportunities, the charity directly supports 200+ vulnerable children and their families, with a total reach of 6000+ within the wider community.

However, bringing this kind of project into existence is never straightforward. Persevering through numerous setbacks and challenges, I devised solutions to problems while keeping an eagle’s eye on the big picture. We developed simple models that overflowed with impact.

Where others saw the impossible, we saw differently and took risks that caused inroads into community transformation. This work was all things challenging, rewarding and life-changing.

In late 2016, I moved to the UK after living in Kenya for just over seven years. From 2009 to departing in late 2016, I was a key member of the team leading and supporting the start-up phase of the charity.

It was an incredible period and one where I learned a huge amount both professionally and personally. Through it, I experienced almost every kind of challenge that a developing country can throw at you, and survived.

Most weeks I worked 60 hours and volunteered through these years to get things set-up and established. I was able to sustain my outgoings for the time I was there from the generous support from friends and family and a local living allowance.

Last year I took a career break while transitioning back to the UK as well as looking and applying for permanent work. From my seven years experience I have built up a strong skill-set in communications, programmes and fundraising and am looking to transfer this experience into the non-profit sector in my home country.”

Marcus has been instrumental in the change process for what is now known as Kitendo Children’s Charity (KCC). You can visit them on FACEBOOK or on their WEBSITE to learn more about the program. You can even DONATE directly to them.

Marcus earned a very special award from IVHQ called the Volunteer of the Year Award in 2013 for all of his hard work in establishing the KCC programme! Of 20,000 volunteers who were nominated for this award, Marcus takes the title! Congratulations Marcus!

So many awesome things have come from the volunteers and this is one more to appreciate! Thank you Marcus for all of your years of service to Kenya!