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An experience of volunteering in Kenya

In July, I volunteered with VIDES: Volunteers in Development, Education, and Solidarity.

VIDES is a volunteer missioner program that works together with members of the Salesian Family of St. Don Bosco to promote social justice, solidarity and generosity by living a simple Christ-centered life while serving the poor and the marginalized.

At the end of June, I traveled to Siakago, a three-and-a-half hour drive from Nairobi. The village of about 10,000 people is set in the hill country. With a semi-arid climate, I was thankful to be there during the winter months when the temperature was usually in the mid-70s.

Blog post author and SP volunteer coordinator Sarah Knoblock with members of the Salesian Sisters of Siakago, including (from left) Sister Margaret, Sister Irene and Sister Eusebia.

I was relieved to hear there was no malaria in their region, especially after the Salesian Sisters told me their homestead farm was a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The sisters run a dispensary (pharmacy) and small clinic so they often see what illnesses are in the region.

A ‘Classroom Auntie’

My mornings were spent visiting and assisting the 60 pre-school age children who are learning English, numbers and counting. They have the most fun when they get to sing and play in between their lessons.

Because they are learning English and I only knew a few words in Swahili, I was mostly a classroom Auntie, a second pair of eyes to make sure the children behaved and, if they were upset, a familiar face to offer a comforting hug or pick them up if they fell. It seems the children were somehow always falling. #kidlife

Many of the girls who board in the Don Bosco school plus the on-campus “moms” pose for a selfie.

After school, the girls who board on campus were busy hand-washing their uniforms and working on homework before dinner. During this time, I quizzed the 7- and 8-year-old girls on math equations and chatted with the House Mothers who board on campus.

The girls also enjoyed braiding my hair; and when I taught them to “Walk Like an Egyptian” (like the hit song from the 1980s), they thought it was the funniest dance they had seen!

Feeling Blessed

Overall, it was a wonderful time. I feel very blessed to have been able to travel and volunteer with VIDES, even squeezing in a day safari trip to Meru National Park.

The people of Kenya, especially the Salesian Sisters, were very welcoming and kind. There is a saying in Kenya, “Visitors are a blessing.” I certainly received many blessings from them and I hope I blessed them with my time and service as well.

Volunteer with us!

Volunteering brings joy and satisfaction. It’s also a great way to meet people, gain experience and help your community.

Do you want to volunteer with the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana? We have several opportunities for you to look into and we hope to hear from you!

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Sarah Knoblock

Sarah Knoblock

A former volunteer herself, Sarah is the Coordinator of Volunteer Services for the Sisters of Providence. For more information on volunteering, contact Sarah at sknoblock@spsmw.org or call 812-535-2878.

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  1. Avatar Sister Connie Kramer SP on August 17, 2023 at 7:05 am

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I am grateful for your willingness to do this volunteer work.

    • Avatar Sarah K on August 17, 2023 at 12:49 pm

      Thanks, S. Connie!

  2. Avatar Debbie Griffey on August 17, 2023 at 7:34 am

    Oh, Sarah! What a delightful experience! You were definitely the hands of Christ on your mission. I’m sure those children will miss their classroom Auntie. Thank you for sharing!

    • Avatar Sarah K on August 17, 2023 at 12:49 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Debbie!

  3. Avatar Joni on August 17, 2023 at 7:54 am

    What an incredible trip. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us.

    You are a gift to our community Sarah. Thank you for your service to the mission of Providence. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin would be PROUD of you.

    • Avatar Sarah K on August 17, 2023 at 12:51 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, S. Joni! 😀

  4. Avatar Mary Montgomery on August 17, 2023 at 8:05 am

    Thanks, Sarah, for sharing your smile, attention, love, care, faith, time and talent with the people on Kenya! I am sure the Salesian Sisters and all you met are/were very grateful! I look forward to seeing more pictures.

  5. Avatar Sarah K on August 17, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    Thanks, S. Mary! 😀

  6. Avatar Sr Eusebia on August 17, 2023 at 2:33 pm

    We miss you Sarah hope you are planning for another visit. We enjoyed being with you, ur calmness and patience with the nursery kids was in another level. Feel appreciated

    • Avatar Sarah K on August 18, 2023 at 9:45 am

      Aww, thank you so much, Sr. Eusebia!! I would love to visit again.

      Blessings to you!

  7. Avatar Paula Modaff, SP on August 17, 2023 at 7:40 pm

    Sarah, the Holy has given you gifts in abundance and you have shared them to the max. Sr. Eusebia’s comment is so reflective of who you are. Thank you for being such a source of inspirational energy for me and countless others.

    • Avatar Sarah K on August 18, 2023 at 9:50 am

      How very kind of you to say, S. Paula. 😀

  8. Avatar Sister Susan Paweski on August 17, 2023 at 11:22 pm

    Sarah, you continue to share your gifts of enthusiasm, generosity of spirit and compassion. Thank you for sharing this great adventure!

    • Avatar Sarah K on August 18, 2023 at 9:52 am

      Thanks, S. Sue! 😀

  9. Avatar Paula Damiano SP on August 22, 2023 at 1:19 pm

    I can only imagine you giving your all to these children and to this mission! Thank you for all you, but most especially for who you are!

    • Avatar Sarah K on August 23, 2023 at 8:20 am

      I certainly tried! Thank you, S. Paula. 😀

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