Volunteer Voice: 'My first impressions as a volunteer' by Sophie, 19, from Wiltshire

We are very lucky to have Sophie who is volunteering at the school for 3 weeks. She's already a huge hit and is doing lots of art, activities and music with the children. 

Here's what she writes:

My first week at this creative, beautifully vibrant school has been unbelievably delightful. I have experienced so many wide smiles and warm hugs. I feel incredibly blessed!

Here, each student respects and loves one another. There is no age limit to friendship.

The eldest – Chris, John and Baraka are 14 and they look after ‘the gang.’ They each take it in turns to clean up the classrooms at the end of the day and they will sort out a crying girl or boy - usually telling them to ‘grow up’! Or they start a game of football, rounders or chess as a distraction. No time is wasted at Bluebells as they all love their school day so much and are super keen!

Hula hoops so generously given by the Rob Stephenson Trust.
Getting creative with leaves!

I am laughing the majority of the time - usually by the sight of Godwin finishing his lunch first every single day, without fail. Even the day he was given his lunch way after everyone else! Then there is Omar patting me on the shoulder literally every 2 minutes and saying ‘teacher look!’ as he proceeds to attempt a handstand or a roly-poly. Or by Francis shouting ‘teacher Sophia – I drew you a picture’ and every time, I mean every time, it is a picture of a goat!! I’d love to see his goats!?

Madame Missy’s garden is flourishing with passionfruit, tomatoes, mangoes amongst other fruits and vegetables and this gives the school a seasonal feel whilst teaching the children how to tend and look after the plants, as well as watch them grown.  And great that the produce is sold to raise money for the school, as well as eaten by all the teachers and students alike.

Tomatoes flourishing.
Art & music time with Sophie, our wonderful volunteer - Yes it's a wonderful world.

The children are at different levels of learning. Edna and Fredrick in Grade 3 came from larger schools and so their English reading and writing is poor. But they are so eager to improve and are busy completing their exercise books and often wanting to do extra reading with me while their friends are playing games.

This week we have written letters back to Sticklands School, in Evershot. Please maintain this correspondence because the children are genuinely happy to receive the letters. We have also drawn a map of Africa and created a montage of the lyrics of the Louis Armstrong song “What a Wonderful World” with much singing of the song too!

I was also lucky enough to visit Sammy’s workshop (he’s Bushbells’ head tailor) and see the beautiful clothes being made. Sammy’s son, Katana, has been extremely welcoming and helpful to me and is currently doing work experience at the school, before hopefully going on to university. He’s an incredible teacher - such a natural, and his gentle ways endear him to all and he is so loved by the children that Pana, a 6 year old boy, cried on my lap when he found out that Katana was staying in Malindi and not coming in to teach that day.

While I am helping out here I am staying at a most lovely place called Echo Villas Watamu and if you find yourself in Watamu – I couldn’t recommend it more highly! It’s small, intimate and perfect.

Next week I am taking the older children to the beach, the snake and butterfly farm and then the recycling centre – can't wait!”


1 comment

  • Thank you so very much for your kind words Sophie. It has been a pleasure having you stay with us and being a part of the entire Bush Bells community, we hope to have many more amazing volunteers like you.
    Thank you
    Kylie Weber

    Echo Villas Watamu- Kylie Weber

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