Lucy Sellen

Eighteen year old Lucy Sellen from Chelmsford, Essex spent two week volunteering with Naturally Africa Foundation, in July 2011.
Lucy told us all about her rewarding experience.
"I spent two weeks with an organisation called Omwabini based in Western Kenya in a rural town called Kimilili. The project compound included an orphanage, which accommodated 200 children, a primary school, secondary school and health clinic. The organisation provides housing and food for orphaned children and educates them to the age of 18 so that the young people can find employment and become self sufficient. However, the impact of Omwabini could also be seen in the wider community where they built mud houses for poor families, water pumps, handed out food and provided information on HIV and AID’s awareness.

During my short two week stay at Omwabini I was able to participate in many different areas. On the first two days I was shown around the compound and local community by the project managers Mary and James. I visited a farm that the project uses to grow maize for food, a water pump built by the organisation and a small fish reservoir that the organisation planned to use as a source of income by selling the fish to the local communities. In some ways these two days were the most eye-opening as I began to take in both the Kenyan lifestyle and landscape. The lack of electricity and running water, dirt track roads and mud houses all came as a shock initially. However I was also amazed by the enthusiasm, generosity and friendliness from all of the local people and felt welcomed into the Kenyan culture and Kimilili community immediately. On the third day I began building a mud house for a widowed woman whose own house had collapsed. In order to make the mud walls we had to walk with a bull and cart to collect water which took six people two hours. The men worked endlessly in the heat and seemed enthusiastic which I found very admirable. In the evenings I helped hand out the children’s dinner and wash the children’s clothes in a bucket which was surprisingly back-breaking work! At the weekend I had free time and was lucky enough to take a trip to the Masai Mara safari park.

At the start of the second week I spent time in the Compound's primary school. The classrooms were made from mud and wood and were very small. The children were taught English, Swahili, Maths, Life Skills (such as hygiene and safety) and Science. Whilst in the school the children were sitting their yearly exams which I helped the teachers mark. I also had the opportunity to visit a public primary school outside the compound. The classrooms were again very small but accommodated up to 115 children per class with only one or two teachers supervising. The children were all very excited to see us and we exchanged stories about our own countries. I also spent a few days working in the health clinic at the compound. There I saw how they tested for malaria and typhoid on children from the orphanage who were feeling unwell. The clinic appeared very basic but the children are lucky to have such healthcare as both treatment and medicine are unaffordable to most people in the community.

Although I only volunteered at Omwabini for two weeks, the positive impact of the organisation was clear. Omwabini not only provides food, water, education and healthcare for the children and wider community but it also restores a sense of security and love for the orphans. During my stay I met some fantastic people, was immersed in the culture and had an unforgettable experience.

I would recommend the Omwabini project to anyone!"