In August 2016, 25 year old Oreoluwa Osuntuyi from Dagenham travelled to Nakuru, Kenya to volunteer at an orphanage run by the Sure24 Foundation. Long before her trip, Oreoluwa had been working with the Flowing River Foundation in Dagenham, a Christian organisation which is dedicated to reaching out to marginalised members of the community and also supports the Sure24 Foundation. The Jack Petchey Foundation awarded Oreoluwa a £220 IGFV grant to help cover the cost of her travel and accommodation.
Oreoluwa and the Flowing River Foundation were fundraising for Sure24 to help the building of a new secondary school, to install a water tank at the orphanage and to pay the expenses of the four children at the Nakuru orphanage that they sponsor. Oreoluwa and other members of the foundation had been writing letters to their sponsors, to keep in touch with them and, in Oreoluwa’s words “to let them know that they have a family in the United Kingdom who love them and believe that their lives matter.” Visiting the orphanage not only allowed the volunteers to undertake important work, but also to meet their sponsors, helping to create a stronger relationship with the children.
When Oreoluwa and her team arrived in Nakuru, they facilitated a youth week consisting of workshops such as goal setting, relationships, hygiene, and back to school sessions. Alongside these workshops Oreoluwa and her team also ran ‘Medical Days’ throughout the day where qualified medical staff saw patients from the orphanage, the local area and the local dumpsite for free consultations which Flowing River had funded. Before the consultations, Oreoluwa and her team carried out blood sugar and blood pressure checks for the children as well as taking the height and weight of the children for the orphanage’s records.
Oreoluwa and her team also helped on the building site where Sure24 is currently building a new secondary school with the hope that it will be open by summer 2017. The team visited the dumpsite twice to speak to the people who live there, distributed food and learnt more about their living conditions, their relationship with the government and the re-housing plan that the orphanage is assisting them with. Oreoluwa also took part in the orphanage’s feeding program which takes place once a month, in which the local children are invited to play games and given a free lunch.
This trip was a real success, especially as they were able to sponsor two more children at the orphanage. Oreoluwa said that “We also learned that planning ahead, having a willing attitude and constant readiness were key principles that made our trip more impactful.”
Oreoluwa reflected on the people she met whilst volunteering and how it has changed her worldview, saying; “I have learned that whatever my hands find to do, I must do it well and that I am at my best when I use my time, energy and resources to encourage and help others. The inhabitants of the dumpsite haven’t allowed themselves to be defeated by their circumstances. Instead they have found ways to earn a living. They do this by gathering plastic from their surroundings and selling it. They also use the materials they find to make jewellery, animal carvings, and bags and their work is exemplary. Their mentality is admirable and is one that I have adopted.”
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