Two Chichester College Group staff members made an emotional return to Kenya last month (October).
The college group has a long-standing relationship with The Walk Centre in Nakuru, working with African Adventures to support the running of the school.
Led by efforts at Chichester College since 2011, nearly £100,000 has been raised to build school facilities and the college group has sent volunteers to the school every summer for the past decade – until Covid-19 hit and all international travel was grounded.
For more than 18 months, no volunteers have been able to visit the school which has meant donations of school supplies, clothing and other essentials have also been limited.
But last month that all changed and Lisa Humphries, Group Director of Student Services & Pastoral Support, and Beth Hutchinson, Student Experience Co-ordinator at Crawley College, became the first volunteers to travel from the UK to the Walk Centre since March 2020.
They loaded up cases with much needed donations of clothing, shoes and stationery and spent the half-term break working with the students at the centre. They also fundraised before they travelled to be able to buy additional resources, such as food and kitchen products, during their time in Kenya.
Lisa said: “The team at the Walk Centre are my second family, so it was almost like going home. I think we all shed a few tears.
“It was amazing to get back there and to see the children, who have grown up so much.
“It’s unthinkable to imagine how hard the past 18 months have been for them. They rely so much on the volunteers who help maintain the school, as well as the donations which pay for things we take for granted – electricity, food and water.
“The impact we make really hit me when we arrived at the school, as they have been operating on extremely limited resources.
“The centre has been part of my life for the past 10 years, since our first volunteer trip in 2011. To not be able to visit has been hard, but they were delighted to see us and showered us with love.
“There were 300 kids waiting to welcome us, and it filled me with pure joy to just be there with them.
“Despite their difficulties, the pupils at the school have been progressing well with their studies. They have their first set of exams in the spring, so they’ll soon have their first results to show the difference the school is making to the local community.
“The children live in some of the poorest areas of Nakuru and through the Walk Centre they are able to get an education, giving them opportunities to learn and thrive. It changes their lives and it’s our privilege to be a part of that – we’re the lucky ones.”
The Chichester College Group is planning two volunteering trips to Kenya in 2022, in April and then in July – as long as travel restrictions allow it.
They are continuing to fundraise and are actively seeking donations of clothing, shoes and school uniforms to take out to the school, as well as sponsorship. To get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org