From Newry to Kenya: Local woman speaks of incredible experience

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Monday, February 23rd, 2015
Community, News
On September 30th 2014 Newry woman Emily Shaw flew to London to join nine other 18-25 years olds who would be part of a three month volunteer-led expedition in Kenya.

Emily spent three months in Kenya

Having enjoyed studying English Literature at A-level at Our Lady’s Grammar School in Newry she knew she had to study it further. This led her to the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), where she graduated with a First Class Honours degree in English literature. After months of training, multiple vaccinations and fundraising, she was finally going and she was thrilled at the prospect. During her time in Loitokitok, Emily worked for an organisation called Illaramatak, which focused on environmental issues as well as educating the community of the local environments importance. One of the projects initiated was the ‘Tree per Child Programme’; every child in 30 schools was given a tree to take home, plant and care for. As well as as working for Illaramatak, Emily, along with other VSO volunteers, started the “Grow Your English” Club – teaching young children from 7-16 years English through drama, debating, spelling competitions and group work. The Newry woman and her team celebrated International Volunteer Day #stepforward by hosting a fashion event, where each volunteer catwalked a piece of fashion made from rubbish.

Emily Shaw, who graduated with a First Class Honours degree in English literature from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)

Speaking about her incredible experience, Emily explained to Newry Times, “I lived with a local host family made up of Mama Florence, Carol and Baboo the grandfather. My host family was nothing but welcoming to me.” But not all of it was easy for Emily and the other volunteers. Life for the residents meant frequent electricity shortages for sometimes days on end, no running water, squat toilets and lack of hospital resources as well as poverty. “Many of the UK volunteers struggled with the hardships of everyday life such as building a fire every morning to heat the water for a shower. Suddenly the comforts of home felt very far away,” she recalls. Emily though, insisted that it was an experience she’s not likely to forget, and one that has inspired her. “My time in Kenya was an excellent adventure where I’ve made an impact in the Loitokitok community, made life-long friends with people from Kenya and managed to pick up some basic Swahili. She adds, “I want to thank all those who contributed to my fundraising for the project!” More on this story: Newry student is bound for Africa
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