Luke Newman - 2014 Program Participant
Why did you decide to apply for an international program?
I have been concentrating on fundraising for charities in the UK over the last few years. I have seen footage on the television of deprived people living in awful living conditions for a number of years and I have always wanted to help, but I didn’t know how to. Although many people don’t have the same philosophy as me, I feel we are very lucky living in the UK.
Me and the children of St.Trizah's School in Nakuru, Kenya
Why did you choose African Adventures?
My brother and father had visited Nakuru, Kenya, in previous years through trips organised by Derby County Community Trust with African Adventures and they suggested that I join in 2014. After doing some research on African Adventures, I could see what they had achieved and wanted they wanted to achieve in the future. I had no doubt whatsoever that they were the right organisation to travel to Kenya with.
What was your favorite part about Nakuru?
Nakuru is a stunning city, with breathtaking scenery and impressive areas of interest, such as the Menengai Crater, Great Rift Valley, and Thompsons Fall.
What made your experience unique?
African Adventures provides consistent, long-term support to various communities in Africa. They don’t stop after one visit. I think that it is very important to give continual assistance, helping to build on the progress made by other volunteers and the African people; it helps give children the chance of a better future through more accessible education.
Just recently, seven students from St Trizah School in Kenya, the school that I have worked with, qualified for National Secondary Schools, the highest ranking schools in the country. This is an amazing achievement, helped by the support from African Adventures and their volunteers. African Adventures’ focus is on the volunteer aspect of their trips, and I think this separates them from many other expedition providers.
Me and the children of Nakuru, Kenya
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
Kenyans are fantastic people and the people of Nakuru are very friendly and warm. They know that we, as a group, are there to help them, to play, teach, renovate, and build. African Adventures does not send staff to work at their partner projects in Africa. All the projects that they are partnered with have been set up by and are run by local people, and this is very important to African Adventures; they do not want to dictate their needs, they simply want to support them to develop. The local staff at the projects are extremely welcoming and have become friends. They knew that we had no hidden agendas and we just wanted to help. We come as one into this world.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I would like to learn more about the culture of the Kenyans and learn more Swahili. I would also like to try to understand the Kenyan people more in general in their day-to-day life and how their religion helps them.
Describe a day in the life of your program.
After an early breakfast, a typical day involved us driving through the city to the location of St Trizah’s new school site, where we were constructing the building from scratch. During the short trip we would wave and greet the local people, looking at the beautiful scenery as we went. A day on site consisted of us constructing new classrooms using the different techniques, tools, and methods that the Kenyan workman are used to.
Lunch was delivered to the site and we would enjoy some down-time after working hard all morning. Mid-way through the afternoon, we would leave the site after a hard day’s work and normally stop back at the current school site to see the children, spend some quality time with them, and listen to their life stories and their hopes for the future. In the evening, we would have dinner and spend a lot of time discussing the day and learning from each other’s experiences.
What was one of your favorite things about the program?
I loved the interaction with the children I met in Nakuru, even when not at the projects. The children in Kenya have so little and yet they are grateful for what they do have. On my last visit I took 250 small teddy bears with me to give to the children, and seeing their faces when they caught a teddy was priceless and made me so humble; they were so happy.
Me with the children at St. Trizah School
What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?
Our accommodation had four walls, a bed, a clean toilet, and a hot shower, which was a lot more than I was expecting. It was a warm and comfortable room with electricity and malaria nets, and had everything that was required for our day-to-day living and needs. The local food was nice and fulfilling, and the social area for the evening was a fantastic size for the group to all come together to talk and learn from each other; this was a very important part of the experience for me.
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
I have completely changed as a person. I am more understanding and patient, but also very grateful for what life has given me. I have been through personal heartbreaks, but they seem like nothing compared to what the people I have met in Nakuru go through on a daily basis. I believe it is possible to educate everyone, everywhere, and I am committed to that. African Adventures have given me this belief and I am extremely appreciative for this and the opportunities that they continue to offer me.