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My time with Nyumbani by Matthew Dickinson

When I started my internship at Nyumbani, I was not sure what I was getting into. I had looked over the website for the organisation and conducted a video interview with those I would be working with, but there were still questions in my mind about what this experience would entail. However, I knew that this work placement would give me valuable experience down the road while supporting a worthwhile cause.

Once at Nyumbani, I had spent the first part of the internship looking for the inspiration behind the work. I believed in the goal of improving the lives of children affected by HIV/AIDS in Kenya, but I had been most impacted by witnessing first-hand the work that goes into running a non-profit organisation. With only one paid employee, Karen Steadman, Nyumbani is tasked with garnering and maintaining support from a variety of donors while continually looking for ways to draw in others to help out financially or by volunteering.

I had been aware of these issues beforehand, but what stood out to me was the amount of day-to-day duties that were required. Checking the emails for the organisation became second nature to me when I was at my internship, since information and requirements happen almost constantly to deal with financials and other fairly menial tasks. All this time put into management leaves precious few opportunities for brainstorming ideas to promote the visibility and growth of the charity. For these reasons, I have left the internship with nothing but admiration and respect for those at Nyumbani and other non-profits around the world.

My favourite part of the work placement would have to be the opportunity to engage with many different individuals affiliated with Nyumbani. From working directly with Celeste Shirvani, the UK chair, to having the opportunity to meet fascinating individuals like Kenyan Board Chair Paula Lanco, I have seen the effect that this idea and message has had on those who are usually not directly affected by the work done and how it has compelled them to spend their own time, energy, and resources to benefit those in the various programs throughout the organisation. Whether they are involved with schools or a seemingly unrelated profession, the people who decide to help the organisation do so with a sense of purpose that surpasses languages and cultures. No matter what walk of life each person hails from, they have a similar focus and dedication to the cause that Nyumbani works tirelessly to champion.

Overall, my time with Nyumbani has been eye opening and inspiring. I knew that the cause was worthwhile, but being able to witness first-hand the effort put in, and the results that have already been achieved, and will hopefully continue, make me believe that what I have been doing means more than gaining international internship experience and checking off a requirement for my field of study. Instead, I have played a role in aiding an organisation that makes a difference in the lives of countless Kenyans who have suffered greatly. While I will miss those I met and worked with across the pond, I will remember the effort that running an organisation like Nyumbani takes, as well as the power of working hard to support a worthwhile cause.

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