Jambo from Kenya!

Wow, where do I even begin. We arrived in Kenya on the 9th of January after a long flight but it all went very smooth. First weekend was about getting to know the area and establishing rules. The area we are based at is called Diani Beach and we live in very nice villas (which was a very comfortable surprise) only a few minutes walk from the beach.

On the Monday the games were about to begin! Every week we have visited three to four primary schools. The children are so amazing and lovely and you can tell they are so happy we are here to assist in developing better sports programs. Monday through Thursday each school have a morning session for the younger children and an afternoon session for the older children. The sessions consist of social work where the LSO staff communicate the theme of the week, such as respect, anti tribalism, gender equality and teamwork. They also go through Red card and Yellow card which are cards that will assist the staff if any child behaves badly. With the younger children we have mostly played games where they have to be active. I even taught them a Swedish game called Gingerbread which turned out to be a big hit. I just love seeing them run around with a big smile on their face. For the older children the session normally begins with a game as a warm up and then they jump straight into a sport. So far we have played football (or soccer as you may call it), rugby, netball and the last week will be volley ball.

Some times the sports have turned out to be a bit difficult to explain as the Australian rules may differ slightly from the Kenyan ones but never have we given up! The most important is that they get to be active and that we give them some new and exciting games to play, which I believe we have done. And not to forget, WE have learnt a lot from them as well.

When not working at the schools we have still managed to be pretty busy. On the second weekend we had a guided tour in Mombasa which was very interesting. We also went to the local pubs/clubs in the evening together with Karen, the manager of the place we are staying at, and her cousins and had a typical “Kenyan night”. These people sure knows how to party! I woke up around seven the next morning to go for a run on the beach – the people were still partying next to the pool! Not my style but it was interesting to see at least. I thought Australians were bad!

The weekend after we went on a two-night-three-day safari at Tsavo East. We saw so much; elephants, lions, birds, giraffes, buffalo, impalas… the list goes on forever. It was one of the most exciting things I have ever experienced. By the time we got back on Sunday it was time for…AUSTRALIA DAY. We organised a BBQ with the typical things; corn on the cob, sausages, bread rolls, salads, potato and lots of fruit. We invited the LSO team and it turned out to be a great night with lots of cheering and laughter.

The week that we are at is our third week. As I mentioned earlier, seeing the kids waving and smiling when we drive into the school yards makes my day. I have also noticed the children are more comfortable around us and not as shy as they were in the beginning which is great to see. I hope they continue to behave as good as they are when we are away as well.

Last weekend is on our fingertips. Today we visited a local village and got to go in to the chiefs bedrooms(!!). Apparantly he had two wifes and therefore his house needed two bedrooms, one per wife, where he spent three days with each and Sunday was a day “to be single”. Very interesting religion. For the afternoon we prepared ourselves with a massive lunch and then headed to the mines where future LSO coaches are trained. It was time for some competition but man, I think we underestimated them… Three legged race, spoon race, pick the object, tug of war and sack race. We won 2 and they won 3 which means they got the trophy. But hey,we had loads of fun and plenty of exercise and that’s what matters.

Tomorrow we are heading out for some snorkeling and Sunday will be a day to relax. Next week is out last week at the school and  I will be so sad to go but I also know that I will be back in the future. I hope the children and LSO have appreciated this experience as much as me and the other volunteers have. It has been amazing and I wish I didn’t have to leave…

– Johanna, Volunteer Kenya: Sport for Better Futures in Kenya 2014

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