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Lily Hamnett's Post-placement Letter From Kenya

Lily Hamnett in Kenya with The LeapFirstly I want to apologise for not replying to any of the emails you sent me while we were out in Kenya! I haven't been ignoring them, it's just that on the very few occasions I managed to get online I didn't think I could do justice to telling you what an amazing time I was having in the short amount of time I had!

Anyway, now I'm back in England and have far too much time on my hands (I'm actually at work but I don't really do much here!) I thought I would drop you a note to say the biggest thank you and tell you what a wonderful experience I have just had!

If I had to emphasise one thing that I loved more than anything about the last 6 weeks, it would be the people I have been with. All of us got on like a house on fire, but I know I have also made some really close friends!!.

Developing the unique relationship with the local communityIt really felt as if we had a unique relationship with both the local people in both Diani and Tsavo and that therefore the help we were giving was massively insightful and constructive!

In Diani the main project that I was working on was the building of a Banda and although basically it was just hard graft (clearing the vegetation and laying coral)  It was the most satisfying thing to see the progress we made every day and I do have a few photos of the developments we made!

We also held a kids club for a few days while the children from the local Lily and the kids clubschools were on holiday, and that was brilliant fun; just playing with the children and learning about their lives and what they wanted to do when they grew up! We even taught some of them to swim in the sea! To be honest I think I probably learnt more from the kids than they did from me! They even taught me to count to 10 in Swahili!

The final project I had a hand in in Diani was the Malaria awareness project. It got off to a bit of a shaky start, we went round one of the small villages‚ with the village Elder, asking questions to collect data for the local health authority. However we ended up being taken to most of the Elder's friends houses (people who tended to be single men) rather than being taken to the households where there were pregnant women and children under the age of 5 who are most vulnerable to malaria. The next day things were back on track and the help was reaching the right people, and by the end of the week we had sprayed over 20 houses with the special mosquito repellent solution and had managed to hand out vouchers for mosquito nets for the women and children who needed them.

Another wonderful example of the distinctive and personal help we were able to give, was that during our questioning of the locals it became apparent that rats were also a problem in their houses, and at the end of the week we were also able to hand out rat traps that Hugh had bought for us. It was small things like this that really made me feel we were making a proper difference to people's everyday lives!

My favourite week in Kenya had to be the week when a group of us went toLily (middle) and friends en route to Lamu Lamu independently. Being a World Heritage Site it was somewhere I was excited about seeing, but I don't think I could have imagined how fun it would be, getting there, exploring, and just relaxing- not to mention the fact that 7 of us managed to rent the most amazing villa by the beach that slept 24 for about £4 a night!! It was the perfect way to end our time at the coast!

The scenery was beautiful and difference in the attitude of the people we were working with was incredible. I did my first spot of teaching up here, and Hattie Edwards and I went to a school where they had never been visited by white people before! This made for an interesting first day! We didn't get much work done as we spent most of the time talking with the teachers and the children spent most of the time just laughing at us! But they slowly got used to the idea of us and after three days we had all the children singing and reading and having lots of fun!

I didn't mention how fun the train journey from Mombasa to Nairobi was! I have never been on a sleeper train before, but after a 5 course meal, some lovely red wine, and a long lazy evening of chatting, I have decided it was one of the best journeys we made!

I have never left something more reluctantly than I did last Tuesday. I left behind one of my oldest friends and so many great new ones, and I know for a fact if I had not had commitments back home, there would have been no doubt that I would have extended my stay out there for 12 weeks!

Having said this I'm not worried about keeping in touch, I'm in regular contact with the guys who are still out there, and I am meeting up with one of the other 6 weekers this weekend- I just hope I have time for my old friends!!

I know there is so much more I could tell you, in fact I know I could talk for hours and hours about all the fab little stories we stacked up out there, but I think I better stop now. The only thing I want to say again is thank you so so much for providing this amazing experience for me. Not only do I feel as if I have helped in a small way, but I have also done so many new things and visited so many new places. I can honestly say I have had one of the best experiences of my life, I wouldn't change a thing and I really wish I could do it all again

Lily Hamnett went to Kenya with The Leap