What is your fondest memory from your time volunteering abroad with IVHQ?
Taking the leap to establish an effective and functioning NGO in Kenya, while living full time in Kenya, that has helped 150 kids receive life essentials such as food and education. This would have to be, my most valuable memory volunteering with IVHQ.
My original IVHQ placement was an orphanage but within the first few days of being in Kenya, the group of volunteers I was with were invited to meet a slum community located the outskirts of the town we were volunteering in. The community is locally known as the KCC slums. At that time there were 6000 people living there and the social worker who showed us around, suggested to us that we should consider starting a new project there for the children. There were kids everywhere. 100s had not even started school and some were getting to the age of 12. Hunger, malnutrition and sickness were rampant.
There was this pulsating curiosity to think about starting something new. It just made so much sense to start something and I will never forget the energy I felt when I started to process the idea. I knew instantly that this community was a place I wanted to work in. There were no projects and the people were ones that most aid agencies had passed by. When I shared the idea with our host, Catherine, to my surprise she had already been considering starting a new project for vulnerable children. It was then that we joined hands and began the process of setting up a feeding program and school.
Why should you be the IVHQ Volunteer of the Year?
I believe I deserve this award as I have lived, breathed, given and worked for the past three years in Kenya. With a small management team I have established programs, structures, logistics, marketing, budgets, accounting, human resource, admin and fund raising campaigns to keep the projects moving forward. Living in a country that is very different to New Zealand in culture and way of life, I have overcome many challenges and obstacles being a white in an African country. I have lived with the same host family and have helped over 150 of volunteers feel like Kenya is their second home. I’ve worked long hours for no salary, budgeting on the support of friends and family, often with just $250 a month to work with. I have worked through countless power cuts, slow internet, had enough “real” showers to count on my hands, seen my life flash past me on numerous crazy bus and matatu trips, been chased by African buffalos and hippos and eaten 100s of plates of ugali, rice and beans!
What benefits will the award money have for your designated project?
The challenge we have right now is sustainable funding. The benefits from winning this award would be huge. Our strategy is to invest in a new opportunity that has arisen for KCC. Investing in 17 acres of fertile ready farm land and a business proposal that is quite simply, one of the biggest opportunities KCC Slum Project has had to date.
The 17 acres is right within the area around the current ECD school and where the projects operate from. The farm land is currently commercially productive land that has water connected, pumps, a nursery, housing and office space, boundary planting a local labour force and more.
Our plans are to start growing cabbages, peppers, tomatoes, beans and then in time venture into strawberry farming.
The market for the crops are local buyers. Our produce will be sold to supermarkets, green grocers, hotels, hospitals, schools and the general public. All within Kenya to Kenyans, so this project will turn full cycle, right within the local economy.
The prize money will go directly into getting this farm set up including fertilizer, pesticide, land preparation, seed, manure, local labour much more. The beauty of this is that the money would actually be an investment. From the sales of produce, donations can then be generated for the projects.
This farming project will do several things:
- Employment - All the labour and staff will be straight from KCC slums and Naivasha town.
- Project Support - From the sales profits will be donated to the projects to ensure that current projects keep growing and impacting more people. This will also enable KCC to invest in construction, water and other big ticket development projects.
- Feeding Program - Crops will be grown for the food program from the staple red kidney beans to all of the vegetables and fruits.
- Kenya Support - This farming project will build greater local support as crops will be sold into the local marketplace, and thus build a charity where the local community will become a major contributor to KCC.
- Growth - KCC will grow faster and develop in ways not seen before
What is your long-term vision for this project?
The vision for KCC is this: an empowered, independent and resourceful human society. This means it is sustainable as much as possible. It is my vision that this project will be an example of sustainable community led development.
The vision will see the following objectives worked out:
- Construction of a full primary school, multi-purpose hall, kitchen, toilets, 2 dorms and staff housing.
- Buying 3 acres of land in close proximity to the new primary school for a playground and future developments.
- Drilling a bore hole for access to clean safe water.
- Increase the number of schools receiving the Sanitation Program with distribution of sanitary pads in all those schools.
- Extend the programs to reach 400 children in 5 years from other slums in the Naivasha area.