|By Anjali Bharadva|
Volunteering is an opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others and give back to the community. I had the privilege of volunteering at Kapiyo Secondary School, a mixed day and boarding school in Bondo, a quaint little fishing town in Siaya county, roughly 72 kilometres west of Kisumu.
On the first day, a Friday, my teammates and I engaged in a mentoring session with the students where topics such as hygiene, self-respect, self-worth, education, nurturing talents, and having dreams and goals were discussed in-depth. Many students at the school struggle with academic performance, a complex issue whose long-term solution would require not just resources but more importantly, a change in mindset and attitude towards education. Later that evening, the School management granted us the joyful pleasure of planting trees around the girls’ dormitory. We happily got down to work, some of us giddy at the excitement of trying out something new. Later on, I smiled at the beautiful coincidence, that is, tree planting, that aligns with the University’s theme for 2023: Sustainability – Caring for People and the Planet.
The experience was greatly enlightening for me; it opened my eyes to the challenges faced by the students. One of the most pressing issues I noted is the lack of resources available to the students; resources such as sports equipment and consistent water supply that have impacted the students’ access to recreational activities and hygiene. Female students, in particular, face a major challenge in accessing sanitary pads. To help address this problem, the team of volunteers I accompanied worked with the school administration to distribute sanitary pads to the female students. It was a small act but it made a difference in the lives of the young and jolly girls.
On our second day at the school, we painted a classroom that will be used as a computer lab, which not only improved the learning environment but also helped us engage with the students, who kept us company as we painted the walls. I was deeply impressed by the big dreams and ambitions which the students shared with us despite the seemingly endless challenges they encounter in their day to day lives. I was awed at the numerous talents that the students showcased; from singing, dancing, poetry and more. I hope that they will find meaningful ways to put their gifts to good use.
Come Sunday, we were ready to rest and recharge. The day could not have been better, a welcome respite from the hard work and a great way to end our adventures in Bondo! We enjoyed a hearty lunch at a restaurant overlooking Lake Victoria and in no time we went swimming, the water refreshing our tired bodies and minds. It served as a great reminder of the beauty and potential Bondo held.
My time spent volunteering in Bondo was both inspiring and humbling. It helped me understand better the challenges that students deal with, making room for reflection for the privilege I had and appreciative of the students’ resilience, and hopeful of the bright future that lies ahead. This is an experience I would like to recommend to all in the University. Sign up to be a volunteer with the Community Service Centre by using this link.
The author is a Diploma in International Relations finalist; she will start her degree in Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies and Philosophy in April.