There are many reasons. For starters, I wanted to become a better person. I wanted to learn more about myself. Through my journey, I saw many lovely things and was moved by many scenes. When I landed back in my country, I knew that I had become better. I also love children very much. Children are very important. Truly, I hope that every child can have a happy childhood. I want to see children smiling and laughing out loud, I don't want to see them crying, trapped, and with no hope for the future. Children need to receive love from this world, as well as the right care and a sense of safety and belonging. I know how hard it would be when someone feels totally helpless, and I would like to be a shoulder to lean on for those in need. I want to do my best to help others and to make this world a better place.
Why did you choose Love Volunteers?
I wanted to be a better me and I wanted this world to be a better world: so I chose to go to Africa to help the children. Helping the children in Africa is one of my dreams. I can remember clearly when I was still a little girl, one day I saw a picture of the poor children in Africa. I couldn't believe that they were so thin, their arms as thin as sticks. Looking at that picture, I could not help but cry. I knew how important children are. So I decided to help them one day, as much as possible. So I chose this program because of myself, because of children living in poverty, and because of the unjustness in the world.
What was your favorite part about Kenya?
My host country was Kenya. It is a land of poverty and hardship. But still, my favorite part about it was the people there. I must mention how well my host family treated me. Vegetables might be the best food a normal family can offer. Everyday, my host family tried their best to present the best food for me. Jennifer, one of my host family’s daughters, helped me several times. When I needed to charge my phone but the electricity went out, she asked her neighbor for help, she even let me use her computer to charge it. There were so many small things like this. To my ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ in Kenya, Jennifer and Mary: thank you for showing me how sincere African people are!
What made your experience abroad unique?
The children. I am a Chinese girl, so making friends with the African children was fun. Nearly all of them asked me about Kungfu, Jackie Chan, and Chinese movies, which seemed to create a bond between them and me. If there was one thing that lit up my whole experience, it was the shining children.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The volunteer coordinator picked me up from the airport and took me to my accommodation. Meals, bed, transportation, and connections were all provided: they did all that they could do to support me. James and Mary, who were in charge of the program in IDP, where I helped the children, helped me a lot. Not only with the program, but with my safety. Thank you, to everyone I should say thank you to!
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I should have brought my local food there. They have only have things like potatoes mixed with onion, green vegetables mixed with carrot…How I wish I had taken Chinese dumplings there. I could have taught them how to make delicious food.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
In the morning, after having breakfast with my host family, I went to the school. Approaching the school, the children would run to surround me and accompany me the rest of the way. I held a talent show, with singing, dancing, comedy, and rapping. The children had their rewards. After that comes their favourite hobby in their spare time - football. During the football games, I played with those who were not in the game. In the evening, I had dinner with my dear host family, then I chatted with the daughters of the host family before sleeping.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
I drew pictures and kept my diary. I like drawing pictures of the children and writing about what I had seen and felt.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
It looked simple and poor, but there was so much warmth and love from people. I liked the food! Even though it was very simple and sometimes I honestly could not stand it, I enjoyed the time spent together with my host family.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Ask about Internet access. Although helping others is a good thing, don't forget your own family. Only when I arrived at the host family did I realize that I had no internet! My family thought that I would connect and talk with them everyday. Thankfully, I asked the daughter of my host family to send an email to my family, and it worked. So internet is very important!
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
I become stronger in my mind and I now have more positive energy, which can help me believe more. I love my life better!
Would you recommend Love Volunteers to others? Why?
Yes. Love needs people. I will definitely tell my friends how good and meaningful this organization is, so they will have more volunteers and more love.
Kaiman Lan, or Kate, is from China. A student at Shenzhen University, she is majoring in English teaching. Kate has been to Seattle, Norway, and has volunteered with the Bring Me Hope Foundation to help orphans. She has many part-time jobs; she works as a tutor, singer, dancer, translator, and writer.