Written by CorpsAfrica/Kenya Volunteer Ms. Irene Kihumba
To be honest, I didn’t want the Pre-service Training (PST) to end because that would mean that my service at my community would begin and the reality of it was that I didn’t know how things would pan out. I was very anxious and worried, trying to imagine how my first time at my site would be. Having prior knowledge of my site, I knew that the sun is always hot on that side, very dusty and it can go up to 3 years without rain in this community, but surprisingly my experience on my site has been amazing so to speak. The community is quite receptive and this has made it easier in my integration journey.
On the day of my arrival, my host family welcomed me in Munyuni Village, where I met my host mother Esther Mutua, and her husband Augustus Mukeku. Their daughters live in the city but I met them during the Christmas seasons. She is a retired teacher and has a business in Wote Town and does farming too. She took me around the farm and oh my! She has a huge farm where she plants maize, vegetables, and beans and also has several fruit trees such as pixie and mangoes which do well in this part of the country. The reason why she manages to do farming on a large scale is because she lives next to Thwake River where she does irrigation by generating water from the river.
She has played a big role in assisting me to familiarize myself with the new community that I am going to serve for the next ten months. Within the first two weeks of staying with my host family, I met many of their family and friends, business partners, and members of the church they go to because she is a choir leader. She is involved with the church by attending different events at the church. With it being Christmas season, it meant that ceremonies would be held every other day together with other big days for the community meetings and events that led us to get along and I became a part of the community.
My host mum believed in me and she encouraged me that I could do this, which has made me genuinely get fond of her. She has been empathetic with me from the beginning of my service and has been able to put herself in my shoes. She also made sure to introduce me to counterparts who would be of great help with my service and worked with them to ensure that I am comfortable and that they assist me where I need help.
Esther, my host mum, has a large influence in the community. She is one of the positive deviants in her community, she is well-known and plays a key role in uniting people together. Esther is also involved in various activities the community does and is in many groups that are both unregistered and registered in the community. Many of her friends come to visit and learn about farming from her. Whenever we meet with people, they always refer to her as ‘’Our Hero’’ because from the past as I heard, that she always comes through for her community in terms of sharing what she has harvested from her farm.
My host mum has very good communication skills and is very well connected in the society she lives in, she is always present at community functions and whenever called upon, she is always ready and prepared. She is someone to emulate and I can utilize some of the traits I have learned from her as I go along to be more social and to be a good communicator I am glad that CorpsAfrica/Kenya gave me a new family. The experiences so far have shaped me and have given me a new meaning in life, to learn, grow, and be a positive deviance for this community as well.