by Phil Besse, Flying Kites Education Ambassador
I first came to the Flying Kites home on Halloween of 2011 and volunteered for six weeks. Now, almost a year later and back at the home, I have the privilege of seeing how things have grown over the past 11 months. Much is the same: the house is filled with incredible children, I wake up every morning to laughing kids, and the children have the support of dedicated volunteers and staff. There have been a number of changes – most notably, the very structure of the volunteer system itself.
Last year, I was one of six volunteers. We woke every morning and, after breakfast, walked to the school, where we tutored three children for an hour each, taught the Daily 5 – a reading and creative writing class – had lunch with the kids, and walked home. The afternoons were ours to work on projects or use as free time. This system worked, but wasn’t designed to realize the full potential impact of each volunteer. Since last December, the volunteer system has been revamped for the better.
The Volunteer Program has been renamed the Ambassador Program. Ambassador numbers are now capped at five and accepted in increments of three months, ensuring only dedicated people decide to come. Each ambassador has a specific role: Education Ambassador and Health Ambassador are two examples. Whereas when I first came to FK each volunteer had the same schedule and basically the same responsibilities, now each ambassador can structure his or her work week to meet the demands of his or her role. This has the benefit of allowing each Ambassador to design, with the help of the FK staff, his or her stay to have the maximum impact for the benefit of the children and the organization.
Each ambassador role brings with it particular responsibilities. The Ambassador Program allows for each ambassador to focus on specific areas of critical importance to the raising of children. My role while here for the next nine months is that of Education Ambassador. The role is largely being defined as I learn the ropes, but so far I will be responsible for making sure the integration of ambassadors at the school is at the best level possible, aiding the teachers in their daily responsibilities, designing evening tutoring to be best for the children, and developing the school as a tool for community development and growth.
It has been a great experience to return to Njabini after a year and see how things are different and how they are the same. The biggest change has been the structure of the volunteer program – it has become a program that allows each Ambassador to use his or her skills to focus on specific areas to grow the children and Flying Kites itself.
The Flying Kites team would like to take this time to acknowledge our deep and heartfelt gratitude to the Ambassador Program’s first year of ambassadors. In the program’s inaugural year, our ambassadors have increased the level of attention and individualized care that our full time staff is able give to the Flying Kites children and they have deepened our impact and reach in the community of Njabini. We will continue to relay stories and examples of this growth through our blog. But that’s not all…
In just nine months, 14 ambassadors have raised $76,473 for Flying Kites, and they show no signs of letting up.
Let’s all take this moment to recognize these extraordinary individuals and let their commitment and compassion drive our own to new heights.
To our ambassadors, you inspire us, you drive us, and we would not be where we are without you. Asante sana.