July 15, 2019

Giving back to our community helps boost both social interactions and the feeling of ‘having supportive neighbors’ within the community. It also helps boost ‘the givers’ self esteem and promotes a desire to give back more. Teaching students to give back to their communities in ‘whatever small way’ helps them understand the need to come into contact with community members who may be overlooked, ignored, or suffering from feelings of isolation due to their situations in life. It is important for students to understand what is going on in their communities, discover the needs and find a way to help, if possible.
When students finish their secondary education, they sit at home and often get very frustrated because they cannot get jobs as fast as they had hoped. Volunteering is one way of keeping busy, relieving stress, and keeping active. Volunteering for others creates a sense of both pride and joy. There are many places that need volunteers: children’s homes, homes of the elderly, hospitals and hospice- to name but a few. The era we are living in has changed. Unlike the past where people were concerned about the welfare of their neighbors and extended family members, people have become so busy with their own personal lives that far too often, they don’t take the time to check on others.
We are quick to run for someone’s burial, but we don’t make an effort to visit them when they are alive. Our children are watching how we are living our lives, and they copy what we do. The way we treat our neighbors and those in our community who need love and care, will dictate how our children will treat the same people in their community. Community service has a very positive impact on students. Helping improve the quality of life for another person brings a lot of good feelings both to the giver and the recipient. Volunteers help develop skills, make contacts, and build special bonds with members of their community who would otherwise be ignored.
One of the girls in the Valvisions sponsorship program helps an elderly woman in her neighborhood back in Pokot by washing her clothes, helping her fetch water, and carry firewood. The older woman feels Sandra’s absence when she attends college in Nairobi and longs for her to come back home so she can see her. They have created a very special bond due to Sandra’s love for this older lady.
In the spirit of giving back to the community, the Choice Club members at Njabini Girls School forfeited the snacks we generally purchase for them; the funds were channeled towards a primary school neighboring Njabini. The children in the local primary school enjoyed candy, received footballs, story books, stationery and best of all, the personal, one-on-one time they spent with the older girls. They sang songs, danced, played riddles, joked and ran around. It was so good to see the older girls forget ‘for a moment’ that they were teenagers. They got down to the level of the children running around with them, carrying the little ones on their backs, hugging them, and generally making them feel loved and appreciated. It is certain, that some of those children received their very first hug that day. The older girls in the school received a lot of counsel about Secondary School life, steps to passing exams, career guidance, the dangers of meddling with boys, how to maintain personal hygiene, and the need to always strive for a positive attitude. Basically, the Njabini girls passed onto them what they have also received from the Choice Club. They gave them sanitary towels and emphasized the need for the young girls to maintain menstrual hygiene.
What did the girls achieve during their participation with the younger children? They said they felt energized because of the physical exercise, happy to have put a smile on the children’s faces, their self-esteem was bolstered by having the children listen to them as they taught, and they felt appreciated. Those that felt like their life was not so good changed their minds after meeting the young girls who cannot afford something as basic as menstrual pads. The older girls’ problems felt smaller after the encounter. The general feeling of having done something good for someone was enough for the girls.

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