When you have no idea what you are getting yourself into

It all started last Giving Tuesday, that is, November 27th 2018. I, a Serbian from South Africa, was part of the Student Council at my university and agreed to help set up an event for this relatively unknown NGO. They help women and children in Africa, which sounds very typical, but the reality was far from it. First of all, Africa is not a country and the founder of the NGO, Dana Feminová, does well to remind others that her project is based in Kenya.

 I quickly learned that she and her team had spent the last 16 years building an entire community on Rusinga Island from the ground up—literally. The "Island of Hope" consists of the clinic, orphanage, nursery, primary and secondary schooling, with all the buildings that go along with that, as it focuses on educating children but also empowering the women in the local Lake Victorian community.

What got me interested in volunteering was the cause, but what has hooked me is their authenticity. You don't feel like you're navigating the bureaucratic and institutional structures of some big organisation, where the issues in Kenya seem far away from what you are doing. The kids and women are always at the heart of the discussion so that when we sit down with Dana to discuss what needs to be done it feels like a human-to-human interaction, not a volunteer-to-employee dynamic. Having said that, we do need more "volunteers," i.e. awesome people like you (perhaps) who just want to help.

You'll assist us in whatever skills you're most comfortable with as solutions range from helping find online teaching aids to helping with the technical side of computing, programming and web development, to finding team-building and trust exercises for the teachers and kids, to visiting Rusinga Island as a photographer, to suggestions for DIY art and hobby supplies, to raising funds here in Prague; the list goes on. Indeed, one of the most rewarding things you can do for them, here in Prague, is organising a charity event which is exactly what we did at the Globe Café and Bookstore, in May last month.

The team consisted of university students from Anglo-American University like myself, expats working here in Prague, and local Czechs like Dana and Simona where together we came from over four different continents! There was story-telling, a video showing the Island of Hope's history, musical performances (which included artists from the US and The Gambia), an auction, and a stand with different products from Kenya like local coffee, tea, soapstone dishes, and jewellery to name a few. Overall, it was a deeply fulfilling experience to share with strangers the incredible work that Centrum Narovinu does there. We made a substantial difference, we continue to do so, and we're only getting started.

I'm sure you'd like to know some more details, so head on over to our Facebook page (link below) and stalk us all you like. We look forward to seeing you at our next volunteer meeting, which is really more of an information session than anything else. Come ask us questions and find out how you can help. Go check out our Facebook page for exact details and to find out more about us (links below). Look forward to seeing you there.

Milan, Anglo-American University

Facebook Rusinga Island of Hope: www.facebook.com/Rusingaislandofhope
Facebook link: www.facebook.com/CentrumNarovinu
Website:  www.centernarovinu.org