Ely College students and staff have recently returned from a 10 day volunteer trip to Kenya where they were so moved by the poverty at the Jubilee and Ungana schools that many left shoes, clothes and personal belongings behind for the young people.
This latest trip took place over February half term and over the last several years, students from the college have developed a close connection with two schools in the slums of Nakuru, Kenya’s fourth largest city.
Following the success of their trip in October 2017, many students immediately vowed to return and the college reported that over the last 16 months, 24 of their students made a big commitment to fundraise for the Kenya Projects.
As well as the usual cake stalls and sponsored swims to raise funds, students looked to the people of Ely to support their efforts. The community and local businesses responded by sponsoring students or contributing to the mountain of shoes, clothes and school supplies that students took with them as extra luggage.
According to the college, “the children of Jubilee and Ungana, staff and parents, were delighted to be gifted even the most basic supplies which we take for granted in the UK. Having something to call their own made the world of difference and this was all thanks to generous donations from our wonderful local community.”
Since returning from their 10-day adventure, which in addition to classroom renovations and building new toilet blocks incorporated a wildlife safari, students have reflected on their experience and the stark contrast with our own lives.
Teacher Sheila Branch, who jointly led the trip, commended the students for their hard work and compassion: “Not one of our students complained about the desperately poor conditions. Despite each one of them giving their every effort, either labouring to improve the site or teaching the children in class, at the end of trip they still felt like they wanted to do more. Many chose to leave their own clothes, shoes and personal belongings.”
Lauren Burrows who also led the trip commented: “We are so proud of the students who have volunteered this year. There is a real sense of continuity and lasting legacy with each visit, adding to each building project to improve the resources. We have built a strong relationship with the staff in Kenya and they have been warm and generous hosts.” As Ely College bid farewell for another year, Kenyan staff and children gave each volunteer a locally made personalised bracelet; a memento of a life changing and humbling experience.