Original Volunteers is urgently recruiting volunteers to work with a street kids project in Mombasa, Kenya.
The project is managed by a branch of the Catholic Church but they are desperately short of volunteers of any Christian denomination. They also welcome the non-religious and other donominations too including Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist.
We have been working with the project for nearly 10 years, sending volunteers of all backgrounds and skills and have noticed a drop off in the number of volunteers due to the annual media coverage of political and terrorist events in the country over the past few years.
Volunteers were an integral part of the project's work, motivating the boys and providing creative energy so that the local staff can focus on more immediate areas of need such as housing, food and health needs of the boys.
All the boys come off the streets on a voluntary basis when they are ready themselves to try to turn their life around. It is not always easy, some return to the streets, some will return to the project again and again until they are ready.
It is not easy for the boys to get back on track. After a life on the streets where they have been independent, probably with their own money from begging or selling at traffic lights, it can be hard to be treated as a child again.
Most boys do have family somewhere, perhaps in the countryside or a slum in Mombasa itself. Most leave for obvious reasons, neglect, lack of food or abuse. Some leave in order to improve their life to be able to help their brothers and sisters they have left behind to move on with them.
The ages of the boys can vary greatly, from 7 to 18. Often one of the boys will disappear from the project only to return a day or two later with a younger brother with them. This is often to remove their younger sibling from their home when they know they are at risk of abuse or neglect. They wanted to check out the project for themselves before bringing their younger sibling with them.
To ease the boys back into mainstream society they must get used to daily routines, trusting adults and starting or returning to learning. Volunteers help by motivating the boys through fun and informal Maths and English language sessions. The emphasis is on engagement and encouragement rather than hard academic learning. The aim is to encourage a love of learning without being too formal and intimidating. Some of the boys may be learning to read and write for the first time if they never went to school before.
If the boys are successful they move onto the sister project to take the Kenyan national exams and the non-academic boys learn vocational skills such as mechanics or carpentary and help to gain employment.
No experience is required to get involved with the street kids project. It is more about engagement and human contact and praising the boys efforts to come off the streets than hard educational targets.
All volunteers fly to Mombasa, ideally on a Monday and not during a Christian holiday (Easter, Christmas) where they are met on arrival.
Most volunteers stay 2 or 3 weeks then return home or travel independently, perhaps taking a safari before flying home.
Longer stay volunteers are welcomed.
The usual routine each day is informal classes between 10 and midday followed by a break with sport and other activities of your choice in the afternoon. The boys enjoy football and havebeen introduced to cricket and baseball. It is best to bring equipment from home as local equipment, if you can find it, will be of cheap quality and will most probably break quickly.
In the morning the classes are in small groups around a table with one or two volunteers taking a group of between 5 and 8 boys. Volunteers usually bring what they can from home for classes although paper, pens and chalk for the blackboard can be bought in Mombasa.
Volunteers live in either the project centre itself or at a hotel a minutes walk away as preferred.
The project is in dire need of funding for clothes, bedding, food and help with monthly bills so any fundraising before travel would be most appreciated. We encourage all fundraising volunteers to take money with them and buy directly what is needed after they have assessed the need, spoken with the boys and spoken to project staff.
To find out more about the street kids project in Mombasa and how volunteers are helping please visit the website or enquire by email below.
Email: contact @originalvolunteers.co.uk
Tel: 00 44 1603 280702
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