My Kidogo adventure in Kenya

Have you ever considered volunteering in Kenya?

This was my first long-haul flight and independent travelling experience, but I felt a great sense of security by being part of a programme; both in terms of structure as well as safety. I went with Kidogo Adventure because their ethos struck a chord with me; ‘Kidogo’ means ‘little’ in Swahili, and I felt this encapsulates how some actions may seem small but can have a great impact.

The first thing I noticed was the chaotic nature of the roads. A hubbub of beeping, people running across at any point, and overloaded motorbikes weaving through. There were speedbumps every 100m, which was the only indication of a safety system. The roads were in poor condition so we would be thrown around in the car, and our driver would joke saying this is an “African massage!”

One of the projects was a Baby Home with children aged from a few months to four years old. Many of them were abandoned in a similar way; where the mother would ask someone to hold their baby as they ‘go to the shop’ but never return. The child is taken to the police or put in bags on the side of the road. They also provided childcare for children of young mothers who needed to go to school, hence why it is called a home, not an orphanage.

I formed a particularly special bond with a three-year-old girl. This started with her watching me feed her friend and when I looked over at her, a singular tear ran down her cheek, which was heartbreaking. I went over to feed her, and she kept stroking my arms and asking for hugs. She clung to my t-shirt and kept touching my hair, possibly having never felt this texture before, as volunteers did not visit during the Covid pandemic. The effect of Covid was also prominent when a fascinated boy told me, “You have eyes like a cat!” as he wasn’t used to seeing someone with blue eyes.

Volunteering at the Baby Home – Alice Watson

We helped in a Children’s Home and School, ranging from four to eighteen years old. It was so interesting talking to those who were eighteen, as we were similar in age, yet our daily lives differ enormously. They were preparing to move out and live independently. Having grown up in such a sheltered and nurturing place, there was an atmosphere of nerves and excitement.

Some particularly memorable moments include their outing of the week which was to go to swimming lessons. Their resilience shone through as they were afraid of putting their heads underwater, but not one of them gave up. Secondly, we made jewellery out of beads, and when I made a mistake, they said, “well at least you now know how to do it.” Their attitude was so refreshing, and I admired their positivity, considering their circumstances.

We also got to experience Graduation Day! This was such a happy day, full of song, prayer, and pride as they danced their way up to receive their prizes. There was a moment of self-prayer, where we volunteers, bowed our heads in silence. We were surprised to be met with a hum of individuals praying and singing aloud. Christian faith was very prominent everywhere we went, from greetings to the children writing “Thank you God for the visitors,” when we painted with them.

Graduation Day – Sophie Holcroft

Painting – Sophie Holcroft

I also taught in a slum school, swarmed with two-hundred and fifty children aged from three to sixteen years old. This was the most rewarding project for me, as I felt we could make the most difference. I was so inspired by their enthusiasm to learn. They would shout “Teacher, teach us!” Who knew how much joy marking their books with a smiley face could bring? They jumped up and down and showed their friends, who would ask if they could have one too! I helped with English assessments where they had to understand the questions and then answer. One of the questions was, “have you ever seen an accident?” I thought this was a shocking choice of question and the fact only two of them said “no,” was upsetting as they were only eight years old.

I taught lessons based on life skills, such as ‘how to look after your plants and animals.’ I was asked, “how do plants grow?” and I thought of photosynthesis instead of a practical view. Their favourite thing to do was to perform, sing and dance to us. We taught them ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen, which was a great success! Kidogo Adventure set up the Girls’ programme for the school holidays, to keep girls safe from dangerous situations at home and off of the streets. We brought them cupcakes to decorate, read books, and played with balloons. The smile on their faces is something I will never forget. The Girls’ Safe House is an incredible project, housing the most vulnerable girls and is lead by such an inspiring lady. She lives there with three of her own children but also looks after the seven girls in the Safe House.

Eager to learn – Sophie Holcroft

We were based in Nairobi but also got to see and learn more about Kenya through various activities. We went to feed giraffes which was top of my bucket list, as well as see orphaned baby elephants at David Sheldrick’s Elephant Orphanage.

Feeding the giraffes – Sophie Holcroft

The trips exposed us to different aspects of the culture. We visited a workshop employing three-hundred and fifty women from slums, who make handmade painted jewellery out of clay. The Massai markets were a complete sensory overload, as we were pulled from pillar to post by sellers! We also ventured into the countryside to visit a tea plantation which was a contrasting experience compared to the buzz of the city.

Hand-painted beads – Sophie Holcroft

Tea Plantation – Sophie Holcroft

The highlight for me was going on a safari in Amboseli National Park at sunset and sunrise. The backdrop of these magnificent animals was Mount Kilimanjaro, with the beautiful burnt orange sky and the sound of birdsong early in the morning. This was my ‘pinch me’ moment, as it looked like a greenscreen.

Safari – Sophie Holcroft

Being exposed to such a different way of life was such an eye-opening experience. I have so much admiration for how strong these children are considering how little they have, and the experiences they have gone through. My appreciation for the fact I have a supportive, loving family and receive amazing education has grown immensely. I cannot recommend volunteering enough and if it is your first travelling experience, the support of a programme is a fantastic idea! I look back on this adventure with a full heart and to sum it up in one word – unforgettable.


Featured image by Sophie Holcroft

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