By Enock Kamau
It was another great opportunity for the 29 Hope worldwide Volunteer Corps (HVC) 2019 drawn from Australia, Europe and America to serve in Embu, Kenya from 28th July to 10th August.
According to Nadine Templer, the HWW Director of Global Volunteer programs, the goal of a service project is sustainability and to have a long term impact wherever we serve. The ultimate goal is to go back again and build on what the previous groups of volunteers started. We want our HOPE Volunteer Corps (HVC) to make a difference, even if they only in the country for a short time. Nadine and her daughter Priscilla were among the participants in the team that was led by HOPE Global Service Interns Mark Llorens and Audrey Carvien.
Interaction with the school and community
Inspired by the HVC 2019 theme, “As I have loved you,” the participants accompanied by hope staff, ground zero campus team and Embu church disciples; they arrived at their service site, Modern Green Academy and were received by the eager students who entertained them with songs, memory verses, skits and a scout’s parade. Modern Green Academy is where last year’s HVC 2018 group renovated the nursery school playground and painted their walls. As part of the sustainability process and relationship building, returning to the same site makes sure that the community is served through several returns to the same site.
The HVC 2019 participants constructed 11 dining tables and 22 benches to be used in the school dining hall. Prior to this the pupils at the school would eat while standing. As they painted the walls, works of art were also incorporated into the painting. Similarly, the classrooms on the ground floor of the school as well as the outside walls on the first floor were painted.
Modern Green Academy housed the International Church of Christ (ICOC) in Embu for 3 years before the church started meeting at Kenyatta University last year. Even after the move the Church and school maintain a mutually beneficial relationship.
The volunteers hosted a career day for the students, and the educators in the group met with the teachers where they exchanged ideas and experiences. Additionally, the volunteers led five days of Vacation Bible School for 30 students from the school. A highlight of the trip was visiting several of the student’s homes. The families were welcoming, and the volunteers brought gifts for the children and their mothers. It was a firsthand experience as to how people live with so little but are so incredibly hospitable.
This was not yet over as the volunteers participated in a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) training led by Enock Kamau where the teachers, parents and disciples were trained on how to use water filters to ensure safe and clean water. The water filters were a generous donation by Wine to Water organization to HOPE worldwide and were shared with the school, parents, disciples and HWWK Embu Nuru 2 Project beneficiaries. Kakuzi PLC, a company that manages indigenous forests and natural resources, among other things, partnered with HWWK/HVC and donated 20 wooden desks to the school.
Interaction with International Churches of Christ (ICOC) Embu Disciples
HVC is always focused on building the faith of its participants and interacting with the local church. One of the highlights was a home visit to a disciple’s family in Kirinyaga County. This family had moved back to Embu area to help start the Church. The group was also able to visit the HWWK Embu office to learn how we serve the community in Embu County.
Every morning the HVC participants started their day with devotionals. In the evenings they reflected on the day’s activities. On Sunday the HVC members participated in leading the service. They threw in a few Swahili phrases which encouraged everyone.
Kevin Mambo, an Embu campus disciple studying at Kenyatta University main campus stated, “I had an amazing time getting to know disciples from other countries. The way our brothers and sisters from all over the world volunteered to come to Kenya, especially Embu, was inspiring. As they served the community by being involved in renovating the school, and spending time with the children, all of us local people were called higher in serving those around us.”
Kimanzi Tuli, the leader of the Embu Church of Christ stated, “We are grateful to the HVC organizing team, HOPE worldwide Kenya (HWWK), and the HWWK senior management for choosing Embu as a volunteer corps destination for two years in a row.”
As a closing remark, Kevin Oduor, the leader of Ground Zero Campus team stated, “This was an edifying experience that brought me closer to what true Christianity is. I realized that Christ called me to put the interest of others ahead of mine by serving and giving. Seeing children and families smile as a result of my service and the service of others was very fulfilling.”