I recently returned from volunteering/teaching at By Grace Orphanage in Nairobi, Africa (July 2007). I had the most amazing time. The children were so welcoming, loving, disciplined, and wanted to learn. I instantly fell in love with By Grace. The many adult teachers and administrators were absolutely wonderful!!!! Salome, the administrator, has dedicated her life to helping the children who were left on the streets. She is a marvelous woman, and is doing wonderful things for the children of Nairobi.
I found By Grace on the internet and set the entire trip up with Sonya Atkinson. I was well informed on all issues that involved the trip. I had many questions (especially because this was my first time out of the U.S., and I was traveling alone,) and all questions were answers promptly and completely. I felt so completely safe the entire time I was in Africa, mainly because I was so prepared. Previous volunteers were so eager to help with questions. They helped with what I should take and what to expect while I was there. I stayed with a host family while volunteering, and they became my second family. The meals were so delicious and the culture of Africa was shared so freely. They spent time with the volunteers and were there whenever I needed something. I was able to see how the typical African family works, plays, and lives.
I have returned home, only to miss the children and my host family, and shared my many stories and pictures with others. After seeing photos, my husband, daughter, and son want to return with me. They, too, fell in love with all of the children. I am a teacher in Indiana, and prior to my time at By Grace, I was able to introduce my school, and classroom to By Grace. My school collected money to donate to the orphanage. I was so thrilled that I was a part of what they were doing to help these children. With our donation money, they purchased new uniforms, fed the children, added tile to the worn out floors. This all happened in the 3 weeks I was there. Right before my eyes, I saw what they were able to do with our donation money. Fantastic!!
This was my first time to volunteer at an orphanage, travel out of the country, live with others that I didn’t know, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I have made friends from everywhere in the world, and I had such a positive experience with By Grace and everyone that is involved with it, that I feel that I have become a part of them. I will return to By Grace, sooner or later, and I know that I will be involved with By Grace for a long time. Knowing that the children are in need of so much makes my heart ache. While I am at home, I will work on donations, and getting others involved in By Grace.