KVT volunteer Heidi Louhelainen visited Kipepeo, our new partner organisation located in Western Kenya. She was as a volunteer there for three months during the beginning of the year 2018. Heidi had a talk with the Director Julius Kuya, so that you can get to know Kipepeo too. Here you go!
Who are you and what is your role in your organisation?
My name is Julius Kuya and I am the Project Director in Kipepeo. My role is to coordinate project activities within the organisation, fundraising, developing networks, trying to find new partnerships, designing local projects, trying to help in the implementation and evaluation of projects as well as coordinating volunteer programs in other organisations. There are two other men running this project, Programs and Field Volunteer Officer Jethron Ayumba and Finance Officer Moses Meja.
What does Kipepeo do?
Kipepeo Community Empowerment Program (KCEP) is a community-based organisation and we are doing what we call integrated projects. We enable community groups to participate in integrated activities to achieve quality livelihood and to be self-sustainable. We deliver our activities through the power and spirit of voluntary work to build sustainable communities and to give intercultural exchange.
Our main purpose is to promote youth employment and exchange of information among Kenyans and international communities, to promote youth mobility, social inclusion, community development, promotion of peace among our diverse communities, understanding and unity of purpose.
What are Kipepeo’s mission and goal?
Our mission is to improve the quality of life of the local communities in Emuhaya District trough sustainable local development initiatives. Our goal is to enhanced capacity, improved living standards and quality livelihood of needy and vulnerable community groups in Emuhaya District.
What kinds of projects does Kipepeo offer for volunteers?
We have many ways for the volunteers to be involved and they can combine different activities during their stay!
- Volunteers can teach together with our teachers at the Kipepeo Community Education Centre or at some high schools. Teaching some basic computer skills for young people is also possible.
- We have community microfinance and business development groups in which volunteers can be involved, plus trainings, group meetings ans some local business projects.
- Kipepo coordinates women, youth and sport groups and volunteers can join these groups to give trainings or education.
- We have a project dealing with orphans and we offer these kids mentorship, trainings, discussions and different kinds of activities.
- We have partnership with a hospital nearby and volunteers can get involved in nursing and clinical services there. We also sometimes arrange health talks for the community about basic health topics, for example preventing malaria or HIV or about hygiene.
- We have permaculture design and farming, so volunteers can be designing the farm with us or they can be involved with farming itself. We want to create a local eco-village with houses and open-air conference hall built in the local way. Volunteers can be involved in construction work at the Community Resource Centre, which is still being constructed.
- +++ Workcamps and volunteers can join us there!
Why international volunteering, what are it’s impacts?
The first thing is through skills and knowledge. Many volunteers have something extra in them, for example through their studies or their work or their hobbies and interests and they can use these skills to support us to empower the members of our community. That is one of the key things. But we also have had volunteers who come straight after their high school.
The second important thing is cultural exchange, which allows us to learn from each other. International volunteers are important also for social inclusion, in getting everyone in the community involved.
How have your previous volunteers contributed to your local community or activities?
Ideas! That is one of the most sustainable things. New perspectives, insights, information and skills have really helped Kipepeo to grow and develop. Even our websites have been designed with one of our volunteers and now after he trained us, we can manage them ourselves.
Two volunteers have been able to help us mobilize material resources, for example computers, cameras and printers. This has allowed us to be able to communicate internationally and to be able to offer computer trainings locally for the community to empower them and to offer them new opportunities. Volunteers also support us financially through their participation fee. We are a volunteer-based organisation, so the participation fee is important for us to meet the costs and the needs of the projects. These fees enable us to do something new or to develop our projects. Volunteers have had a major role so that we have been able to buy land and to start building our Community Resource Centre. One of our old volunteers helped us in getting students to come to a workcamp and to help with the construction work, so that had a big impact.
And also, we make friendships! We have friends all over the world through voluntary service, which also continues to build our network as an organisation.
Last question, why Kipepeo?
We are a volunteer-based organisation, so we don’t receive payments and we have dedicated ourselves to offer services to the community. Kipepeo is at the grassroot-level and we really understand the needs of our community. The activities that we tell about are existing activities in which volunteers can get involved in straight away. When volunteers come here, they are part of us and they fit very well to the context.
We are volunteer-oriented, and we take good care of our volunteers because we know, if volunteers are taken care of, they also deliver. All of us have been volunteering and so we know what volunteers go through. We give our volunteers opportunities to explore and learn and to try their ideas with us.
We are a small organisation, so volunteers can see the outcome of their work. Also, we are motivated, and we want to grow and that’s why we welcome volunteers to come and be part of our growth. Kipepeo is run by young people so we have young people minds and we are very flexible.
Thank you Julius!
*Attention! Are you interested in volunteering in Kenya / Kipepeo? Ask more: And take a peek at Heidi’s experience on Instagram #instatakeover