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EU Aid Volunteer. Community based officer. September 2018 – February 2019.

1. Age

2. Profession
Project coordinator

3. For how long time have you volunteer in Shianda?
6 months

4. Why did you decide to go to Kenya?
I was working for an international organisation at a HQ in Europe before and always felt that in order to have a better understanding of development projects I should gain field experience so the community-based development position in Kenya seemed to be an excellent opportunity. 

5. Why did you decide to volunteer with WEFOCO?
I have always found the concept of community-based development very effective sinceI believe that in order to achieve long-term results, it is important to get to know the real needsand resources of the local community andimplement projects with the active involvement of its members. Working together with a local NGO also gives you the chance to have a better understanding of the challenges and see the direct impact of theactivities.

6. What do you think about the work that is being done by WEFOCO?
I believe that WEFOCO together with its Estonian partner, Mondo is doing an incredible job with the available resources. It was a pleasure to work together with Esther, WEFOCO’s motivateddirector, Abraham, who is in charge of the officeand also an excellent Swahili teacher andtranslator, Salim, WEFOCO’s very professional agricultural expert and trainer, and the women groups, whoare always ready to learn and sharenew knowledge and skills to improve their activities.

7. What kind of tasks did you have?
I was working together with women groups as a community-based development project coordinator. I was responsible formonitoring the already existing activities and initiating new projects, exploring market opportunities and facilitating trainings together with WEFOCO’s expert to allow members to generate a more stable income. The trainings were facilitated based on a one-month needs-assessment and covered topics such as cost-effective farming, soybean production, and record keeping.

8. What did you like the most about volunteering?
Working together with the community directly. Besides having the chance to have a better understanding of the needs and activities of the groups, every time we visited them, the members were giving us an incredibly warm welcome, often with dancing and singing. They neverlet us leave without giving us some (most of the time, huge portions of)traditional dishes, showing us around their farm, and having a little chat.

9. What was surprising?
It was surprising to me that I did not have the promised cultural shock, it was somehow much easier to adapt to the local environment with the help of WEFOCOthan I expected before my deployment.

10. What kind of additional information would you have liked to know before going to Kenya?
A little bit more details about eachwomen group, their activities, the local market, etc., although I had the chance to collect a lot of useful information during theneeds assessment period.

11. For what kind of difficulties the new volunteers should prepare themselves for?
New volunteers should prepare themselves that flexibility and creativity are key when organising an activitysince you always need to consider the available resources, be culturally awareand communicate clearly to avoid misunderstandings. However, it can be a much more memorable experience to deliver a training in the shade of a beautiful Kenyan tree with alwaysenthusiastic attendeesthan sitting in an official meeting room.

 12. Tell about your favourite experience from Kenya.
I really enjoyed the walks and boda (local motorcycle taxi) rides around Shianda before or after the trainings/meetings since the nature is beautiful, and you can also have a better of picture of the lifestyle of the community.

13. Do you miss something from Kenya/Shianda?
I miss many things, mostly the people I had the chance to meet in the office, the groupmembers, my favourite flatmate, our wonderful landlord, and the new volunteers who arrived by the end of my deployment. I also miss the lively and friendly atmosphere, the music coming from every corner, the beautiful nature, and local dishes.

14. Any other comments?
I believe that this experience will stay with me for a lifetime so I absolutely recommend everyone to join Esther’s wonderful team as a volunteer. 😊