Every year we ask our volunteers for their gap year feedback on their expedition. This year we have had some great answer so I thought I would share them with you. This one is from Anna Doyle who went to Camp Kenya in January for 3 month gap year volunteer programme.
Q. How old were you when you travelled.
A:Now 23, participated in Camps age 22
Q: What made you choose Camps International as opposed to other companies?
A: I found out about Camps International through STA travel while putting together a plan to travel for seven months following my graduation. I was shown Camps International in a volunteering brochure and I really liked the blend of community work I could do and the option of three months. I felt this was a good amount of time to feel part of a community and be able to see some of the results of a project.
Q: What was your favourite part/experience on the expedition?
A: Feeling like I was part of the community and so integrated with the work that we did whilst in Kenya was really special for me. The warmth that the Kenyan people showed made me feel like I was at home and it was so nice to feel such a sense of belonging. To know that we left something that would benefit the community and that there is still so much to be achieved was very uplifting.
Q: Are you still in touch with any of the staff in the UK, in country or the communities you worked with:
A: Since being back I have e-mailed the Camp manager Eustace to keep updated on progress being made in the village and would love to go back out in the future. The other volunteers that I worked with have also stayed in good contact with one another and there are lots of plans for reunions including one in August!
Q: If yes, how is that going and have you fundraised for the Camps Foundation at all or the communities.
A: I have not fundraised since being back but have decided to do a skydive later in the year for a charity in England called Positive East which works with people who have been diagnosed with HIV. My experience in Kenya contributed to my decision to do this and fundraising for the community I worked in is definitely something I would like to do in the future. Once I am in stable employment I would also like to explore the possibility of making donations on a regular basis.
Q: How has the experience helped you since you did your expedition? Such as helped with your university application to impress the admissions tutor/be more independent at university and get on with things better there than you would have done /given you a step up when applying for work.
A: I graduated from university the summer before starting the project but I was struck by the fact the majority of the people I volunteered with were on Gap years before university. I thought this was really brave and something I do not think I would have been ready to do before I went to university. I think the project is a brilliant thing to do prior to going to university to build confidence and independence and I know if I had done so before going it would have put me in very good stead and given me a very diverse experience to share with others. For me personally it has been really useful as I have begun applying for jobs and also other voluntary work in England to help me move into the social sector. It has shown a commitment to helping others and also an ability to adapt to a very different environment.
Q: Did you think the project work was of value to the local communities or wildlife and if yes why?
A: I think it was highly valuable to the local communities and wildlife appropriate to the camp we were working at. I think the most important element of this was sustainability and assessing the most important needs within the community. In Muhaka the Camp that we were primarily based at we built toilets at the school which will make a big difference in the hygiene and comfort of the children and staff. The fact that we completed the project from start to finish was hugely appreciated by the school who held a thanks giving presentation for us. During a speech one of the teachers said many people had come with promises in the past but we were the first ones who had stayed to deliver and this with something we all felt very proud of.
Q: What is the best thing you have gained from your gap year expedition?
A: Being made to feel so welcome and to understand you can connect with someone who’s life is completely different from yours in so many ways. It was amazing to see that despite having much more challenging lives than many people in England the Kenyans I met had such positive and unassuming outlooks on life. I really appreciated the opportunity to be made more aware of the reality of a community in a different part of the world and to see the huge amounts of work that go on every day and it instilled within me a desire to contribute to causes like this throughout the rest of my life. It also enabled me to meet people who I know are likely to be friends for life.
Thanks Anna for your gap year feedback we look forward to hearing more soon.