A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Coastal Call

13 hours of a bus journey later, I arrived from Kampala back into Nairobi, and got to catch up with a group of Irish volunteers working with an organisation called Suas (the Irish word for ‘up’)

Suas, based in Dublin, works with a number of educational organisations in India and Kenya. Each year they also send volunteers (mostly university students) to work with their partner organisations for the summer months. The programme is designed to promote youth leadership and global awareness among young people in Ireland, while at the same time providing a service to the schools. Over the last few days, I have been meeting the teams in Nairobi and Mombasa.

The programme is a challenging one. Given the large class sizes in Kenya, volunteers can find themselves in front of 100 children, and are required to look for ways in which they can have an impact. It is interesting to talk to both the volunteers and the teachers as they learn, discover and face the realities of education in Kenya.

It can take a few weeks for the teams to settle in, but volunteers are now at a stage of seeing the scope which is available. They take some of the slower learners for extra-tuition, they organise sporting activities and summer camps. They see the potential of a particular child and try to nurture it. All the time their perceptions are being challenged and are changing. It can be a formative time, and a catalyst for many to expand their career, and life, horizons. (I have a slight invested interest in the Suas programme, as I was the programme manager for two and a half years prior to embarking on this project!)

I am now in Mombasa, beautiful Mombasa, and will be in town for a few days. Here the muezzin marks the hours of the day, as the call to prayer to chanted from the minarets around the city. The weather warms. The bright colours of jacaranda bloom line the roadside. The beach, white sands and tropical palms, is in sight from the rooftop. Unfortunately a bout of food poising put a buckle in my wheels for a little while, but momentum in building again, and frankly, there are worse places to get food poisoning!

I am moving South from here- to Tanzania and on to Mozambique, until I reach Capetown for the end of August. Exciting times ahead.


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