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International Humanity Foundation (IHF), Kenya

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marystuartw View Drop Down

Joined: 12 July 2014
Location: Nakuru
Status: Offline
Points: 2
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    Posted: 12 July 2014 at 12:25

My name is Mary Stuart Wannamaker. I am a 22 year old from Charlotte, NC who lives in Madrid, Spain studying international relations, political science and foreign languages for my Bachelor’s degree. Yet, this summer, I am happily living in Nakuru, Kenya with the International Humanity Foundation family as a Work-Study Volunteer for 2 months (just shy of 9 weeks). Knowing that I am interested in a career goal concerning international development, human rights, and NGO organizations, when I heard back from IHF Kenya, it was an opportunity I could not pass as a summer internship. Upon my arrival to Nakuru, I was loved and greeted by many kids home from school on a Sunday and a handful of my co-workers. It was a great start to what is a great summer – or should I say winter as I am now in the Southern Hemisphere? I knew that Kenya deals with famine going into it, as each IHF center (centers are also found in Thailand and Indonesia) declares a focus on the particular issue within its country. Yet, I have learned much more of all the work that the center embodies since my arrival. As many of the children are from a Kenyan region known as East Pokot, a handful of our IHF team recently traveled out to the homeland for a famine feed, and from this, I was truly able to better understand what famine conditions exist with valuable second-hand stories as I stayed behind with the kids (yet, I hope to embark on a similar trip as well in the future to the communities so special to IHF Kenya). Though food is semi-plentiful in Kenya’s fourth largest city, still at the center, we depend on generous sponsorships to continuously feed the children through the weeks and send them to school with everything they need. Thus, play-time and study-time with the children is equally important during one’s time at the center to guarantee and maintain their fortune as happy, healthy, and loved by continuously focusing the attention on them, the reason why I, and all of us, are here in Nakuru. Though, as a work-study volunteer, I am involved less in all of the obligatory local tasks and more with the online international work to maintain volunteers and directors in all of the centers (including Thailand and Indonesia), I find that my time with the kids, helping around the center’s farm, and aiding as well as building relationships with our local ladies who help and cook and clean are all equally important in not only making a difference, but becoming a part of the Kenyan family. Though I seek to be involved in large-scale global issues regarding human rights and development, the personal connections between persons-to-persons and grass-roots movements are where real change begins for the individual when it comes to an improved and fair lifestyle, and I am very thankful to IHF Kenya for granting me the opportunity to embrace all aspects of local and international work, learn the ins-and-outs of how an international NGO runs, and continue to grow more loved ones around the world with an improved sense of cultural competency and leadership as well. I know already, that IHF Kenya is not only allowing me to love and learn from the Kenyan children and community, but it is also shaping me for great work in the future. 

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