6 months after returning from Kisii, Kenya…
I’m finally taking the time to research and write for the blog I’ve been so desperate to create for so long. So this article is a thank you letter of sorts to the experience as a whole but also a footnote for this blog.
So what was it all about? Well I spent 3 months out in Kenya on the International Citizens Service (ICS) entrepreneur programme. The team I volunteered with was made up of 8 UK volunteers and 9 Kenyan volunteers. We were divided into working groups of 2 or 3, and got to work with local business owners. If you would like to find out more about what the programme actually involves or are interested in signing up then please follow the link …. http://www.balloonics.org/ .
The whole experience was definitely rewarding and I would whole heartedly recommend to anyone to partake in the programme or do something similar. It’s difficult to sum it up in a nut shell and I think that’s mainly because the programme was designed that way. I didn’t just go somewhere for a week. I lived with a family, and worked and bonded with people, a whole culture and a way of life.
Let me put it this way. I’m 24. I’ve studied Chemical Engineering. I’m now looking to start or rather progress my career. Like many people my age or slightly older in similar situations moving abroad is a possibility. Canada, The US, Europe, Dubai, Japan. Some of the serious contenders for most people considering migration. For myself it would be, In order; Qatar, Canada, Germany. That was until I sat down to write about my experience in Kenya. Before you go getting ideas – I’m not saying I want to move to Kenya. Could I though? Or Sudan (where my parents are originally from)? Nigeria? Maybe even India?
I am making a point here. Recently a friend of mine – 1st generation brit like me, parents originally from Somalia, told me she was moving back to Somalia to live and work there. I say “back” because she had already spent a year living out there, working with an NGO. I guess life out there agreed with her. My question is, how many of the people migrating around the world every year (According to the United Nations Popuation fund – “In 2015, 244 million people/3.3% of the world’s population, lived outside their country of origin”) consider a move like this? We all know the benefits of moving to one of the locations listed in the big contender list. So what would the benefits of moving to Kenya be?
Well based on my experience I can tell you, if you’ve ever dreamt of having your own business then this is a great place to do it. Plenty of opportunities and an economy on the rise are plenty of reason to consider doing so. And if like me, you dream of one day having a big family, this is also a great place to do it. With spacious lands and a more relaxed pace of life, achieving a more balanced work-life ratio seems achievable. Wildlife and beautiful scenes, and a country committed to conservation and sustaining their environment – All great reasons!
Of course like anywhere in the world there are bound to be things that you’re not so fond of. For me it was the tribal rivalries (not always obvious to the outsider, but evident), the boda-boda drivers, and ugali with not enough stew. I could go in depths about these things, and maybe I will another time. That’s not what I’m writing about though. I’ve just said that for the first time I’ve considered seriously moving somewhere that might challenge me to live a life I never planned or imagined but may well like.
You could think of a move like that similarly to how you might consider taking a job offer at a smaller company over a job offer at a large already established company. You know in the back of your mind there’s more room for growth and you could definitely develop and further your career with the smaller company. Of course you’d have to put in a lot of research beforehand to make sure that the smaller company actually has the long term goals in place for themselves and is capable of achieving them. And if it doesn’t work out, that’s not ideal, but you know you can always apply for another job. Except making a move like this can be ten times more rewarding because it has a bigger impact on the society you live in. According to the UNFPA
“Migration is an important force in development and a high priority issue for both developing and developed countries”.
It goes without saying why migration would be a high priority issue for developed countries. Conservative leaders and Donald Trump champion these reasons as excuses to shut the world out. However what’s there loss is the rest of the worlds’ gain. While they’re busy shutting migrants out, those same migrants are changing our world. And where they do it from, is what matters most. Development in Africa may not be your goal, but what is? And does it matter where you are when you achieve it?
I personally will be giving this matter serious consideration over the year to come, and will keep you updated on my journey. But again thank you to Balloon Ventures ICS for giving me the most eye-opening experience of my life. Also a thank you to Baba & Mama Vera, and their three wonderful children for being an amazing host family. Thank you to my host sister and live-in partner Karen, and thank you to all the amazing friends I made for entering my life.
Finally, If you’ve been kind enough to stick around this long, then I have a question for you. Could you do it?