After spending the fall semester of my junior year of college studying abroad in Nairobi and volunteering with Wale Wale Kenya, a youth center in the Kibera slum, I’m incredibly grateful to be back and helping Wale Wale with a literacy project.
With the support of an InterExchange Foundation Christianson Grant, I’m spending the next 11 months working with a team of different leaders from Wale Wale, and the NGOs Kibera Girls Soccer Academy and Carolina for Kibera, to create a youth literacy lab. The lab will be a fully functional library with a twist: A place of unparalleled literacy and leadership training for youth that will hopefully result in inner peace for students and the community.
I love working with Kenyan team leaders Donwilson, Cantar, and Monica. I’m learning a lot of Swahili, eating chapati (traditional Kenyan flatbread), and enjoying my favorite soda that you can’t get in the States – Black Currant Fanta!
It’s so much fun to work in Kibera again, and with the same group of intelligent, inspiring, and hilarious youth! Since we are currently in the planning stage of the project, my mornings include a lot of meetings with community leaders, curriculum development, program planning, and data collection of youth wants and needs. I spend my afternoons with the students at Wale Wale Kenya, leading their academic follow-up program and implementing a small literacy curriculum through a book club. This week, we’re reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney; it’s awesome to be able to share laughter and literacy with the students. We’re all very excited for the literacy lab to open, so we can read even more books together!
After our reading group, all the students at Wale participate in intensive dance training. The Wale dance crew is pretty famous in Kibera and Nairobi, and our youth are often invited to perform at various functions. Although I don’t know their routines, I’m invited to dance in the warm-up with them, which is always fun and often times exhausting. I’m so excited to have these dancers and their amazing energy at the new literacy lab center!
Our literacy lab is set to open in September, so I’ll certainly have a lot to write about. For now, I’m really enjoying my time in Nairobi, and I’m so lucky to be back. Many thanks to the InterExchange Foundation for making it possible!