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Making Hearts Smile

Concesa Shubira adding a coat of paint to Nyabondo Catholic Church during a work camp organized by the Community Outreach Programme (COP).

Holding that brush and having it run along the walls with colour had me contemplating. The life that was brought back to those walls in both the primary school and church could be reflected by the brightened smiles on the faces of the students and residents.

On the 27th of August we had a chance to go for a work camp in Nyabondo that was organized by the Strathmore University Community Outreach Programme (COP) where I serve as the Information Manager on the student’s board. COP is a place where most of us have learnt a lot and grown as volunteers. We work with various people including staff, students, and alumni; we also have partnerships with various organizations. Together we aim at making every volunteer in this programme an agent of change to society. As many of us say, COP is a way of life.

COP activities

COP organizes various activities including Saturday activities (where we visit different homes, orphanages, prisons), clean ups, Community Week, and, of course work, camps. The work camps go as far as mentoring, construction and painting. They are aimed at giving us an exposure to what exists in communities or schools outside helping us step out of our comfort zones. With this, we are groomed to become better citizens as we learn and understand better what is actually happening in society. Every work camp and activity is different from the other and the lessons and experiences are different as well. All in all, we stand by our motto, `Making Hearts Smile!’

This year, we have had a number of mentoring work camps all the way from January for both the ladies and gentlemen. These took place in Kisumu, Kitui and Kwale.  About 35 schools in total were beneficiaries from these mentoring sessions and over 45 volunteers have participated.

Painting in Nyabondo

The few days I spent in Nyabondo taught me that if you put anything to mind and have a target towards it, it will surely be met through commitment and intention. We painted five classrooms, one church and the pavements that surround it. With the church, it was amazing how there were many colours involved. We worked in groups of colours and made sure we gave attention to the details especially on the doors and the sacramental areas. Still in our groups, we helped in the kitchen with the cooking of the different delicacies. During these activities, we had time to talk in and learn from each other. From telling the history of Kericho gold tea to picking our favorite brands of tea, from talking about daily life challenges to what actually happens in our universities as students…we also playing games that reminded us of our childhood.

I had a chance to work with students from other universities including University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Kenya School of Law and Kenya Medical Training Centre (KMTC) who were also volunteers in this work camp. The bond that we made from the few days that we got to interact was energizing. Learning different skills and having all the mind-blowing discussions as a team had us leave the place as better individuals. We had our discussions at night to conclude a day’s work. Our topics included relationships with our parents, depression and unemployment, mental health and also tackling general issues that affect us in our society, especially youth. I learnt that in the end whatever decision we make, the choice lies within us. We have a choice to be the change as it begins with us. If you want to see a better society, relationship or even person, you have to accept and be the change first, and it always takes one step at a time.

Trip to Lake Victoria

Our time was well spent as we had an opportunity to visit Lake Victoria and enjoy the change of breeze and climate. Engaging with the residents of the area also gave us quite an experience as we got to learn a lot from them, for example the story behind naming their boats, the experiences they have had along the shore and so much more. As we took the boat ride, they took time to share stories as a way of making the ride more interesting.

Given this chance to paint I’m happy to say that I have gained a new skill that has helped me develop myself as an individual. I get to pay attention to even the smallest details and this has taught me to give value to them in life as they may be the source of the change that we are looking for. If you have a chance to, please attend at least one of these work camps because they hold a lot for each one of us to learn and grow as individuals.

Thank you Community Service Centre for these amazing programmes. Indeed COP is a way of life!

 

This article was written by Concesa Shubira, an ACCA student.

If you have a story, kindly email: communications@strathmore.edu

 

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