STEP Report: Emma Dunwoody in Kenya

Posted by Sarah Caughey on Tue, 01 Nov 2011 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

Emma Dunwoody, CMS Ireland STEP (Short Term Experience Placement) volunteer shares about her experience working alongside the Urban Development Programme (“UDP”) in Nairobi, Kenya.

I first became aware of All Saints Cathedral and the work of the UDP through CMS Ireland when I contacted them about the possibility of doing overseas mission work. It sounded like a great project and a fantastic experience, so I jumped at the opportunity to spend several weeks living in Nairobi and getting alongside the UDP. It turned out that this really was the planning of God as I had some of the best experiences of my life and certainly learnt a lot through the time I spent there.

Along with another STEP Volunteer Kirsten Brown, I left Northern Ireland on the 27th April 2011 to spend thirteen weeks in Kenya, approximately seven weeks of which would be spent working with the Urban Development Programme turned out that this really was the planning of God as I had some of the best experiences of my life (“UDP”) at All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi.

It turned out that this really was the planning of God as I had some of the best experiences of my life…

While staying in Nairobi we lived with Louise and her family. Louise has been working with this project since it began many years ago. Living with a Kenyan family and immersing ourselves as much as we could in a different culture was an amazing experience and it really helped us to grasp what life in a busy city in Nairobi is really like.

The first day that we visited All Saints Cathedral was spent meeting a lot of different people and seeing around the beautiful cathedral and other offices. We were introduced to the Provost and most of the clergy – we were made to feel very welcome. We also were able to spend time in the UDP office getting to know Louise and Lillian and finding out more about what work the UDP does, both in the office at All Saints and with communities of people, like Tujisaidie.

In the UDP office, Louise and Lillian are very busy seeing people who come in from the street. I enjoyed being able to use the time around the Cathedral to meet other areas of the church and help them out too, for example I was able to write a couple of Bible studies for the Cathedral print-out on a Sunday.

Sundays at All Saints Cathedral were really great. We tried to go to all the different services to get a full experience of the church. We went to the Teen service, to the main cathedral service and to the Wednesday evening prayer service but I think our favourite by far was the Sunday Youth Service. We found it so energetic and very different from our own services at home. We loved the worship and how passionate and zealous the young people were. I also learned a lot from the teaching we received at those services. We really loved meeting the young people our age and during the weeks we lived in Nairobi we made some really good friends amongst them.

It was another wonderful opportunity to find out about the lives of Kenyan young people, both physically and spiritually.

It was about a week after arriving at All Saints that we made our first visit to Kayole. Kayole became a very special place to us, particularly our visits to Tujisaidie School. I have so many memories from our time there and I was affected in many different ways through experiences we had with them. In particular, I was so impressed with the teachers in the school: their commitment to the children and the aspirations they had for each child’s future – I found them truly inspirational.

On our first visit we were able to help measure the children’s feet for their new school shoes. This meant that we were able to meet a lot of the children and interact with them from the start. In the following visits we were able to spend even more time talking and playing with them, as well as spending time in their classes to get a feel for what a Kenyan school is like and how it compares to what we are used to in Northern Ireland. We were then able to incorporate this into a lesson about Ireland which we taught to the two older classes. In Kayole, we also visited Bahati Secondary School where we had discussions with the young people who are similar in age to us. It was interesting to hear about what they were hoping to do after high school and how ambitious they are.

One particularly special day in Kayole was being able to spend Madaraka Day with Tumaini Youth. We were able to go to Kayole in the morning and spend all day with the young people. We shared songs and games together and participated with them in discussions about various topics. It was great to see how the children enjoyed themselves outside of the classroom and, especially during the discussions. It was another wonderful opportunity to find out about the lives of Kenyan young people, both physically and spiritually.

I thank God that He gave me this experience and my prayers are always with the people at All Saints Cathedral.

Probably the one day of the whole trip I loved the most was being able to go with the Tujisaidie children on their annual trip. We went with them to the Kenya Wildlife Service Animal Orphanage and Safari Walk and it was a very special day. We went to Kayole early in the morning to make sure that we could be with them as much as possible. To see their reactions throughout the day to everything from the bus in the morning to the animals at the park and to feel that we were a part of that day is something that will stay with me for a long time.

Looking back on the time spent with Urban Development Programme I can see how much I learnt from that experience and will always remember how much I loved it.

I thank God that He gave me this experience and my prayers are always with the people at All Saints Cathedral. I will never forget those seven weeks!

You can read more about Emma’s time in Kenya on her CMS Ireland Blog. Simply click here to visit her page.

If you would like to find out more about our STEP programme and how you can get involved, please contact us.

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