Emily Oosterhof - Medicine & Healthcare, Occupational Therapy in Kenya
Ever since I can remember, I knew I had to go to Africa. I didn’t know what I wanted to do while I was there, but I knew I had to go and do something. As I got older and finished my schooling and got my education, I worked for a year as an assistant physiotherapist and assistant occupational therapist. I was able to get two and a half months off work and I was off to Africa.
Volunteering in Kenya
In Nakuru, I spent four weeks at the Rift Valley Provincial Hospital in the occupational therapy department, and spent my first few days in the pediatrics room. After couple days, I moved to another room were an occupational therapist worked with older children and adults.
The system in the hospital was very different to what I was used to back home. It was a great experience for me to learn and see how things worked in Kenya. I enjoyed learning from the occupational therapists and I was pleased that they were eager to learn from me too.
Occupational Therapy in Kenya
During my stay in Kenya, besides volunteering at the hospital, Project Abroad staff would have outreach programs for us to get involved in. I was able to go on three outreach programs. We went to local schools in the area and helped the children learn to wash their hands and brush their teeth. This was one part of the project I really enjoyed - getting to see the kids and play with them was a lot of fun, and they are always so happy to see me.
The Projects Abroad team in Kenya was great at making sure that I was happy and enjoying my stay in Nakuru. The office was always open to stop in and chat with staff. Projects Abroad also arranged group activities once a week where we could all hang out as volunteers and have a good time. We enjoyed group events such as cooking lessons on how to make local Kenyan food, Zumba classes, Swahili lessons and debriefing or sharing sessions.
Living in Kenya
My host mom and family were great! Right away they made me feel like I was part of their family. My host mom always made sure that I was happy and everyone was very nice to talk and share stories with.
It was very nice to get a chance to learn and experience the local lifestyle of Kenya. It was also lovely to teach them about my life back home. I felt right at home and felt very safe; and my house was close to town, so I was able to walk pretty much everywhere.
Free time in Kenya
Nakuru, Kenya is a great place to visit and volunteer. I liked having the weekends off to schedule trips with the other volunteers; we visited Masai Mara, Hells Gates National Park, Thompson Falls, Equator, Lake Naivasha and Nairobi. The Project Abroad members were very helpful in booking any trips we were interested in.
My experience in Kenya was amazing, the people I met during my stay, the kids I got to meet, the patients I worked with and the work experience I have gained. I really hope I can have the opportunity to go back to Nakuru again to volunteer or even just to visit!
Read more about Occupational Therapy in Kenya.