SARAH ON TOUR

Sarah actively supported us as a volunteer on site. We are indescribably grateful to her. To give you an insight into her journey, she has written a report for you about her time in Kenya:

ULT_Sarah_in_Kenya

On 5 October 2023, the time had come for me and I made my way to the airport early in the morning. At that time, however, I was still thinking that I would be back in Germany in three weeks. But one thing was clear: I was ready – ready to embark on my biggest personal adventure so far, because it was my first trip alone, my first long-haul flight, my first time in Africa and my first time as a volunteer – the anticipation was huge, but also accompanied by respect.

Late in the evening, I was greeted by Bonface at the airport with a sign and a hug and shortly afterwards I met Lea, who would be sharing my room with me for the next two months. We had a meeting back in April where she and Annika explained everything to me about my stay and the preparations, but now we finally got to meet in person.

During your stay, you live in a room in Bonface’s house, which is furnished with three beds, a wardrobe and a shelf. There is also a shower, a toilet and a washbasin in the house. There is no running water, but even if it is unfamiliar at first, you soon get used to it and there were never any problems with insufficient water. The ULI office is also located in the house, as is a kitchen. We were provided with delicious Kenyan meals every day and my personal favourites are chapati and mandazi 🙂

On my first day, we made our way to the nearby Kahawa Primary School in the morning to discuss a few organisational matters on site and to distribute letters from the sponsors to their sponsored children. In September, Lea had launched an appeal for sponsors to write a letter to their sponsored children to make them happy. She brought these letters with her, we distributed them together and diligently took photos and videos of the handover, which will be sent out as an update.
It was so lovely to see the children’s eyes light up when they held the letter in their hands!

 

Afterwards, there was another very special moment for me, as this is my godchild Angel’s school and I was able to meet her in person and chat to her. I will never forget that moment! At the beginning she was still shy and excited, but I have to admit: I was too… In the weeks that followed, however, the shyness quickly disappeared and we were able to experience so many wonderful, unforgettable and fun moments together, for which I am really very grateful! One of the highlights of all these moments was that I was there for her birthday and was able to celebrate her 7th birthday with her 🙂

Our daily routine has consisted of many different tasks: school visits to interview the children and thus record updates for the sponsors; organising events; helping with the food programme on Saturdays; home visits to record the stories of children who want to be part of our programme; office work; etc. At this point I would like to mention that you really underestimate how much work is behind everything and that the whole ULT and ULI team does a great job to make both the children and the sponsors happy and make a difference.

In the first few days, I spent a lot of time in the office with Mic, who arrived a few days after me. We took care of the children’s files and together with Lea I also managed a wide variety of tasks in the office. Despite all the work, we had a lot of fun and there was still enough time to play with the children, who I really took to my heart.
Just a few days after my arrival, some of the children knew my name and greeted me with the warmest of hugs every day. There was particularly plenty of time to play on Saturday afternoons after the food programme, as there are no lessons and significantly more children come to the organisation than during the week.

In general, I was fascinated by the openness and joy of life of the people, as they never lose their smile and never give up despite the tough living conditions!
And it is all the more beautiful and valuable to be able to give the children a fun break at the organisation for a few moments and see them smile.

Patrick and Oli also arrived in Kenya in mid-October and the filming for the ULT documentary began. It was really exciting and I would never have expected to be in front of the camera myself. In the end, however, I was allowed to film an interview in which I talked about both the volunteering and my two sponsorships. We spent the following days conducting interviews with a few children, parents, ULI team members, etc. and taking lots of shots for the film shoot. I am also grateful for this experience and can hardly wait to see the entire documentary soon 🙂

I particularly like the fact that, in addition to your tasks as a volunteer, you also get the opportunity to explore Nairobi and the surrounding area. For example, I visited the Maasai market and the “Bomas of Kenya”, but I was also able to go on a safari in Amboseli National Park. Going on a safari had been on my bucket list for a long time, so it was even better to be able to combine this unforgettable experience with volunteering and to be able to share it with great people. We went on the trip to the national park as a group (Lea, Bonface, Mic, Patrick, Oli and myself) and we took a few photos of the beautiful landscape and the impressive animals.

ULT_Sarah_Safari

We also travelled to Mombasa by train for a weekend, which allowed me to get to know a new side of Kenya. ULT not only sponsors children in Nairobi, but also in Mombasa. We spent a day visiting the children at home, talking to them and doing updates. It was interesting for me to see how different the living conditions are between the two cities, as the families in Mombasa tend to live individually, while there is a great sense of community in the slum in Nairobi. I was particularly pleased that I was able to meet my second sponsored child, Neema. She is the same age as me, which made the encounter all the more exciting. I will always have fond memories of this moment too!

 

Another great event for me was Health Day. In the run-up to my trip, I started a fundraising campaign at home and raised a great sum. This enabled me to finance the Health Day, which I organised and carried out together with the ULI team. We distributed toothbrushes, toothpaste, home-made liquid soap and shoe polish to over 300 children and showed them how to brush their teeth properly and gave them instructions on how to do it. It is simply wonderful to be able to make a difference together with others. Because even the smallest step is part of a big change.

At the beginning, I briefly mentioned that my original plan was to travel to Kenya for three weeks. But in the end, I ended up travelling for a whole two months due to two extensions and that was the right decision. I very quickly realised that I wanted to immerse myself more deeply in life there. I wanted to realise more projects, do more office work and spend more time with the children and the great team. After returning home, I also decided that I would like to continue supporting ULT and the children from home and I was very warmly welcomed into the team. So you can see: Travelling to Kenya does something to you, it makes you reflect and it shapes you.

 

In addition to all the good moments, there were also a few that were associated with sadness. This was the case when we were particularly moved by the strokes of fate and life circumstances. These are precisely the moments that change your perspective on your own life and give you new perspectives. It is a journey with great added value. For the local people, because as a volunteer you do your best to help and for yourself, because you get to know yourself better and can be inspired by the incredible strength of the people and the love they carry within them!

I am very grateful to have taken the plunge and embarked on the adventure, because it was 100% worth it. A big thank you to everyone who made the time on site unforgettable and for the new friendships that were formed. I'm really looking forward to my second trip, because one thing is clear: a part of me has stayed in Nairobi forever!

ULT Happy CLUB: The Story of ULT

We have exciting news about our documentary film. The filming took place in both Kenya and Germany and captures the essence of our journey. We are currently still in the feedback loop with our producers. The filming is finished, so we can already plan the premiere in Berlin. The final film will show the entire life of the children on site and portray our association. We will soon be able to release the trailer and give you a first glimpse of the result. Especially great for our ULT Happy CLUB members: you are on our guest list for the German premiere and therefore have a guaranteed place for one accompanying person and yourself. As always, all members who have already been a member for 1 ½ years benefit from the special rates at our ULT events.

OUTLOOK March 2024

New volunteers at ULT

As you may have noticed, we have been looking for support for our ULT team. Lea has conducted many interviews and we have been able to recruit great new people for ULT.🎉 Our new volunteers will mainly strengthen our update team to ensure that we can continue to provide sponsors with regular photos and information about the status of their sponsored children in Kenya.

Kenya trip is being planned

In March, Lea and Sarah will be preparing their next trip to Kenya, as they will be travelling in May! The two of them already have lots of ideas, including events (e.g. updates), which will be finalised next month. The realisation will then be planned together with the German and Kenyan teams. But above all, they are already looking forward to seeing the children again!

Structuring process in the update team

The update team is working on the introduction of a new structure to improve processes. The strategy was discussed in a meeting in February and is to be implemented in March. Thanks to the traffic light system that was introduced last year, the team retains control over existing or required updates. It is now important to find a better structure for storing photos and texts and to prepare the updates more efficiently for delivery.

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