Testimonial from Georgie Harbottle
Upon leaving for Kenya, I knew I would either love it or hate it; there would be no middle ground; no ifs, buts or maybes. I had never experienced the third world. I had grown up hearing crazy stories of my mother's experiences in Papua New Guinea and knew that one day I had to have a similar adventure but it is impossible to know how you are going to react until you are immersed in a place. I had never taught prior to embarking on this adventure but, having been trained by one of the most wonderful young women I have ever met, I felt fully prepared. The children like to laugh and joke but have a beautiful spirit and never stop smiling. I had the pleasure of reading with a girl who was close to my own age and was absolutely inspiring. She had so much responsibility and yet was so calm and polite; every single time she saw me after that she made a point of saying hello to me. On my first afternoon in Mkwiro, I was told about the open library sessions that the staff and volunteers hold daily. This sounded perfect to me: a great excuse to sit in the sunshine and read all the books that reminded me of my childhood. What I didn’t expect was the enthusiasm of the children. When we arrived, arms filled with books, we stepped out onto the grassed area to find the boys playing football. I figured it would be a quiet afternoon: surely the boys wouldn’t break off from their intense game to come and read books with us girls. However, as soon as we sat down under the shade of the aged baobab, several of the boys came running over. These children have so little; books are an irreplaceable source of entertainment for them. Some of the really young children can’t read but just enjoy flicking through the pictures, their faces lighting up at the colours and glittery images spread across the page. To someone who has never visited Africa I would say, for goodness sake, go! It's like no other place I have ever experienced and volunteering with GVI was a wonderful way to see it. Seriously, don't second guess it; I didn't and it turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done.
- Georgie Harbottle