Brown University women's basketball rising senior Melissa Heath, rising sophomores McKenna Dale and Dominique Leonidas, and assistant coach Sara Binkhorst are set to volunteer in Nairobi, Kenya from Friday, May 18 to Saturday, May 26 through the non-profit organization Play BOLD in partnership with Simba Educational Ministries.
During their time in Kenya, the group will assist with sport clinics, classroom education, and infrastructural projects. Over the course of their trip the Bears' student-athletes are set to write a series of blog posts for BrownBears.com.
The Trip Begins: Energy and Inspiration
By McKenna Dale
We are quickly approaching our fourth day in Kenya but have already experienced so much in the first few days! We landed in Nairobi around 10:00 p.m. Saturday night and from there we took a bus to the biblical house/community center where we stayed for the night. There was a group of student-athletes here before us doing similar work that waited up past midnight for our arrival to welcome us to the center and to help prepare us for all that we were about to experience.
The next day we woke up early to depart for Eldoret where we would be staying for the remainder of the week. On the way from Nairobi to Eldoret, we stopped to do some sightseeing. One of the spots we stopped at was a lookout where you can usually see three volcanoes, but it was unfortunately too foggy for us to see anything. We also stopped at the equator line which was really cool to see as well. After a long journey in jammed packed vans, we arrived at the director of the school's house for a welcome dinner. The director, whom everyone affectionately calls "mom," prepared an incredible and authentic Kenyan meal for us. After dinner, we made our way to the hotel to rest and prepare for the rest of the busy week ahead.
We woke up early Monday morning to leave for St. Jacob's School. St. Jacob's is a private school in Eldoret, which enrolls 317 children (200 boarders), ranging from pre-school to eighth grade. Only 16 years earlier, when the school was founded in 2002, there were only seven children enrolled. The first two days we've spent at St. Jacob's, we got the chance to meet the kids, sit in on classes, and play different sports with them. The kids are so energetic, full of energy, and overall amazing to interact with.
So far, we have been able to teach them skills in basketball, soccer, volleyball, and American football, and they have all already improved tremendously since the first day. They are so eager to learn and are so well behaved. It is inspiring to see them do everything with so much joy! Our teaching extends to the classroom as well, where we've been helping them learn English and other basic subjects. It is amazing how smart and studious they all are!
Along with us teaching them, we have already learned so much ourselves, such as the basics of the Swahili language. We have learned to appreciate the little things and not take for granted the things we are afforded back home in the United States and at such an amazing university like Brown. We are so excited to continue on this incredible journey here and to see what the rest of the week has in store for us! Stay tuned!
Play BOLD is a non-profit organization dedicated to working in partner with other non-profits to empower communities by mobilizing people and resources on international missions to the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Brown assistant coach Sara Binkhorst serves as the secretary on the organization's Board of Directors.