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Volunteering in Ngong, Kenya

Ever wondered what a volunteer holiday is like?

Ever wonder what a voluntouring holiday is like? Corinne Taylor of Bucket List Travel Adventures shares her experiences with a group voluntouring in Ngong, Kenya. From volunteering at an orphanage, hospital and a school in the slums they experienced a wide range of activities and emotions.

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Emotions run high Volunteering in Ngong.

My name is Corinne Taylor and I own Bucket List Travel Adventures, a company that specializes in small group escorted tours. Over the coming months I'll be sharing stories from our many adventures. Starting with our Voluntour and Safari Adventure in Kenya. Hopefully our experiences we will inspire you to get out there and do some voluntouring of your own.

helping others as a voluntour grouphelping others as a voluntour groupRecently, I was fortunate enough to take a group of 10 people to Ngong, Kenya with Rachel Clark who had volunteered in this area for several months in the past. Rachel's knowledge of the area and her local contacts enabled us to volunteer at an orphanage, visit a school in the slums, work at the local hospital, go on safari and live a day in the life of a Maasai. All of these were adventures in themselves and look for separate articles in their own right which you'll be able to enjoy over the next several months.

Our volunteer travel group

We were a very diverse group of 10 people, 26 to 73 years old: retirees, a working mother of teen aged boys, a Canadian Idol finalist. This diversity helped us mesh as a group and allowed us to offer so much in all our volunteering projects. One person had carpentry skills, which were perfect for measuring and figuring out where and how the shelves would be put in the closets at the orphanage. "Sho Sho" or Grandma in our group was great at mending, working away at fixing the children's school uniforms. Another participant loved to garden and took on hoeing, watering and planting as her project. A retired teacher enjoyed supervising and aiding in the homework time. Our performers were always in demand to sing songs or share a dance move while others were just happy to lend a hand wherever was needed scrubbing walls, washing clothes and dishes.

It's this willingness to help and diversity in skill sets and personalities that makes it hard to predict the personal outcomes on a trip like this. We planned the activities and basically hoped for the best when we arrived. This year again I was not disappointed.

Our group was the most kind, generous and hardworking bunch we could have asked for. They experienced the hardships and poverty and listened intently to the stories of struggles from almost everyone they met.

Emotional moments for all

Why volunteer? Here's why!Why volunteer? Here's why!It's normal for there to be moments of tears and feeling overwhelmed. Instead of letting all of this get to them, they asked how and what could do to help.

We found these questions had some varying answers depending on the circumstances. At the orphanage one evening the question was where will we get money for us to buy bread and milk for breakfast tomorrow? Another night it was food for dinner. Another time we were asked for money to keep the kids in school or take a sick child to the clinic. They needed a men's area added to the local hospital so they could stay and receive the proper treatment. Sometimes it was a need to share time and talk over a cup of Chai (tea) or play with the children.

The stories we heard

We also heard many stories - some uplifting, some heart wrenching.

One woman was forced out of her home. She was told to take her 7 month old baby and 3 year old son with her but was forced to leave her other four children behind and was told she would be killed if she returned. Having nowhere else to go she managed to find her sister, Mama Martha, who runs the orphanage and arrived the same day we did.

Over the next week we spent with her, we watched her go from a woman in despair to making meals and cleaning around the orphanage. She greeted us with a warm hug and a Jambo when we returned after our Safari and we knew she had gained some hope. After the shock she realized she would be okay. She was in a better, safe place and could stay here surrounded by the loving children who could also use her help. She joined in games and singing with us and the children on our final day.

A celebration for Mama Grace

volunteer to make the world a better placevolunteer to make the world a better placeWe were invited to "Mama Grace's", Rachel's African mom (and all of ours by the end of this journey) university graduation party. After many years of hard work and sacrifice, she had earned a Master's degree in HIV and Nutrition and the celebration and achievement was hers to share with the community.

Everyone, family and co- workers who supported her along the way, were there to celebrate in her accomplishment.

We watched as our Maasai friend James dressed in his western clothing, left his family and village to head to Nairobi to begin tourism studies at college. We learned all the children that had been removed from Rachel's beloved Siddai Children's home were safe and being well taken care of the way they deserved to be at their new homes.

We learned a lot about hope and faith. We learned to keep the hope and faith for our friends in this community by telling our friends and families at home of our experiences. How little they have and how little it takes for all of us to make a difference in these people's lives.

They say you leave a piece of your heart when you leave Kenya and everyone in our group can attest to tha.

Read Corine's other stories on GoGirlfriend:

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About Corinne Taylor

Corinne Taylor ~ Bucket List Travel AdventuresCorinne Taylor ~ Bucket List Travel AdventuresI started in the travel industry over 17 years ago. I took my first journey to Peru in 2007, with my Mom, to hike the Inca Trail and venture into the rainforest, and that is how my love of adventure travel all began. The following year, I began arranging small group tours to South America. Requests from my clients to do other adventure destinations soon followed. Starting an adventure touring company was on my personal bucket list, and in February of 2011 Bucket List Travel Adventures was born.

My mission has always been to give my clients a unique experience on my tours that they won't find anywhere else. To provide my clients with the kinds of off the beaten track, fun and value priced adventure tours that I myself have always enjoyed.

I always use as many local suppliers as I can. In this way our business generates revenue for the communities and people we are meeting and working with. I have always believed that I can do more than just visit these countries. I want to give something in return for all the wonderful experiences these countries, and their people, share with me and that is how our voluntour projects came into being.

There are numerous adventures on my personal bucket list. Some of my top destinations include: the Great Wall of China marathon, an Antarctic expedition, hike and explore the monasteries and mountains of Bhutan, and set foot on every continent in the world.

Reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook and let me know what's on your bucket list. It might just be one of our next adventures and something we can cross off your list together.

What's on your list?

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