Through my volunteer work with TCP, I’ve developed skills applicable to my profession at a faster rate than I could have at work. Where I excel at developing and implementing strategies to solve business problems, in a bureaucratic organization, juicy problems are given to the executives leaving staff like me with few opportunities to cut our teeth. Charities, by their very nature, are complex organizations requiring creativity, innovation and tenacity to stay alive. Under-resources, under-funded, they react to situations hoping to stay alive another day. There is no shortage of problems to solve, particularly in the case of charities, like TCP, delivering a mandate in another country. How to keep volunteers interested and engaged without physical proximity? How to keep track of kids in a remote area on the other side of world? How to marry the need for accountability with the realities on the ground of a different country, culture and socio-economic context? There is a high level of transferability of the growth I’ve experienced managing a charity to my professional world. In addition to the growth in skills and experience, my time with TCP has helped me realize what makes me effective in an organization.
Beyond the added value volunteering has had on my professional life, I’ve had the honor of being part of a team capable of making something wonderful happen. I’ve been able to combine my strengths with theirs, and together, we’re working towards a goal each of us feels passionate about, that of providing access to education to our TCP kids.
Christine Pothier, Program Executive, Spring 2015
Having the opportunity to volunteer at TCP for the last seven months has been a worthwhile experience. The most memorable moment was our holiday drive because the team was able to solicit donations for Kisumu Vision School to purchase a water tank. Knowing that 100 per cent of the donations go towards helping these kids shows how dedicated the team is.
TCP continues to help me with honing my communications skills. As a public relations student who wants to work for the non-profit sector, this experience continues to be valuable. The best way to build on your resume is to volunteer and the best place to do this is with an organization like TCP. The team is wonderful and the ability to lead projects allows everyone to challenge themselves.
Vanita Thind, Communications Officer, Spring 2015
When founder, Julie Hakim, started talking to me about The Tumaini Children’s Project, her passion was evident and I knew I wanted to get involved with the organization. Having previously taught English in a developing country, I know how excited kids are to learn and I’ve always felt the desire to help out in any way that I can. Now that I’ve been part of the TCP team for almost a year, I’m inspired by the creativity and dedication of all the volunteers. As Sponsor Liaison Officer, I get to read and mail all of the amazing letters the children and sponsors write to each other, and I can honestly say it’s the most rewarding job in the world. Having read their letters, I feel like I know all of the children we work with in Kisumu. They remind me to never take anything for granted and to smile at all the little things.
Julia Boucher, Sponsor Liaison Officer, Spring 2015
To say that my time spent in Asembo Bay this summer was just another experience to be had is such a huge understatement; it truly was the most rewarding “safari” I’ve ever been on. The only thing I can really do to shed light on my experience is to share some of the highlights of the project (the computer resource centre) which myself and the fellow volunteers helped to implement.
When we arrived at the beginning of July, we were welcomed with open arms, huge smiles and plenty of customary handshakes. There was a grand opening at the centre the day after we arrived and the air was filled with enthusiasm, anticipation and laughter as the community members and children danced and celebrated. After being made to feel right at home instantly within the small community, we got right to work alongside the eager and excited women of the Asembo Bay Women and Development Group. We organized and set up the computers, lead basic computer skill lessons for the women, helped the women draft a daily administrative ‘to-do’ list and covered some essential managerial and entrepreneurial tasks. The centre functions as an income generating project to support the orphans in the village living with AIDS as well as AIDS widows within the area. The older orphans will eventually be learning business management skills so that they may one day run the centre effectively. The women were so incredible to work with and they absorbed every piece of information and advice that we had to offer. I am beyond confident that the women will do an excellent job of maintaining and operating the computer centre successfully. The notion of empowerment through education was especially encouraged during our time spent there. I believe that the centre will be a constructive and flourishing benefit to the community of Asembo Bay. As much as I believed I was there to teach them, I know, undoubtedly that I am the one who walked away from this incredible experience having gained such valuable life lessons.
I will never forget the people, especially the inspirational women in Asembo Bay to whom I am forever grateful. I strongly encourage everyone to experience the wonders of this community as my words cannot possibly do it justice.
I hope to be going back soon to visit as I did forget a huge piece of my heart!
Thanks again for the opportunity TCP!
Blaire Grant, TCP volunteer, Asembo Bay Computer Centre, Summer 2009
My name is Stacey Comber and I was one of the four volunteers that went to Asembo Bay, Kenya and participated in the primary stages of the e-learning community centre that was founded by Tumaini Children’s Project. I left Canada as a fresh graduate and was desperate to participate in something that was significant. I realized that spent most of my life in school and that I was blessed with a good family and raised in a country that allowed me the freedom and the support to obtain my honors degree in Mass Communication. I realized that I knew little about the realities of life; I never experienced struggle, survival, poverty, illness, or death. These are some of the constant realities of life that the people of Africa deal with during their youth and throughout their life.
We flew from Montreal on July 7th and reached Kisumu on the 9th. We drove from Kisumu to Asembo Bay; transitioning from city to rural village. We stayed with Bertha who is a member of the Asembo Bay Women and Development Group and her son Kerri. Bertha is one of the salts of the earth who is benevolent as she is loving. We came from different countries, different languages, different lives, and different cultures but from the moment we met there was nothing different among us. She took us into her home and into her family. She became are African Mother and we were her Canadian children. Her son became our little brother; who always woke us up in the morning singing “Good Morning! Good Morning! Teacher! Teacher” and who always shared his chapatti and tea with us. I have never felt more welcomed into a community, not even in my home in Canada. On our 5 minute walk from Berthas house to the centre we were always greeted with 1000 handshakes, 1000 blessings and prayers, and 1000 hugs from children. Asembo Bay was a beautiful village where the heat from the African sun was stalled by the cool breeze from the Victoria River. The sun rises at 6am and sets at 6:30 pm and the night is so thick with darkness. We would sit at night by lamp light as Bertha cooks ugali and fish on the burning coal stove and listen to her speak Lou to her son. To get home to Bertha’s we would walk through a corn field that held naked stalks due to the three year drought that has crippled the village of full harvest.
Our daily work routine started at 8 am with Kerri’s wakeup call and breakfast. I fell in love with Kenyan tea. We headed to the computer center around 9 am where the volunteers would get together and create the day’s lesson plan. The women from the Asembo Bay Women and Development Group would come in throughout the day and we would teach them computer skills and knowledge. We would teach them the basics of operation of a computer, programming, typing skills, internet browsing, and discussed business ideas for the centre to be run as a source of sustainable income. The day we arrived in Asembo Bay it was the centre’s grand opening. We targeted are lessons for the month to the real teachers, the Asembo Bay Women and Development Group, because once we left they were the ones in charge of running the centre and passing on their computer knowledge to the rest of the community. These women are the true heroes of our world. Many of the women took time from means of work and income to learn these computer skills we were teaching. Many of these women had a lot of children at home; the majority of their children were orphans that they personally took into their homes. These women are dedicated to supporting their community and the shocking high amount of orphans in their village.
I loved my experience in Africa because it gave me a new perspective on life. There were many positive experiences that I have mentioned above however; there were difficult experiences that I faced that have benefited me overall as a person. In Kisumu I saw the leftover damage from the post-election violence. The slums are majorly populated by children many of who are holding water bottles filled with glue or shoe polish that they sniff to get high. The street children who run up to you once you get off the Mitatu are usually as young as 7 or 8 and are grabbing their stomachs and making food motions. Driving through the streets you see the urban decay, the poverty, the hardships that wares down on the people and the city. These are some of the difficult things that I personally saw that were difficult to digest. However; these are the difficult experiences that have fueled my passion for social change. I came back to Canada with fresh eyes; you hear about Africa but seeing Africa first-hand has been life changing.
Stacey Comber, TCP Volunteer, Asembo Bay Computer Centre, Summer 2009