Ellie and Casey’s Volunteer Story

Ellie and Casey’s Volunteer Story

Meet Ellie and Casey, two volunteers who visited our projects in Russia and Kenya and had an incredible experience!

Ellie’s Story

After a rather average four months studying in Voronezh, I wasn’t entirely sure if returning to Russia was the best way to spend the summer holiday. But I’m glad I took the leap. From the moment you arrive in Orion, people are ready to welcome you with big smiles and an abundance of tea! I was extremely blessed that one of the teenagers immediately came up to me after my arrival and gave me a tour of the village, and by the evening we were playing Uno, watching the football and eating popcorn with the rest of the family. My advice: try to establish at least a couple of relationships as soon as you arrive, it really makes the transition a lot easier. You will certainly need time to yourself, but this shouldn’t be the case at the very beginning – just throw yourself in and immerse with the families!
There is a lot that you have to learn on the go, but everyone in Orion is used to volunteers from abroad, extremely open-minded, and in the summer quite flexible. So, don’t be afraid to adjust your working pattern to suit you, within reason. The children will make as much effort with you, as you will with them. Their readiness to help, explain and learn is incomparable to many kids I’ve met in the past.

They accept you as a friend as soon as you show that you’re willing to get to know them. Make the most of your time with them, because they really do become the main reason to want to return.

Casey’s Story

My time in Kenya was a truly incredible experience. You can really see, feel and be part of the difference that is being made there. The community has such a positive atmosphere that will bring out the best in you and allow you to forge long lasting and meaningful bonds with both the children and staff.
It was my first time travelling to Kenya so I was not sure what to expect, but Ecologia’s support in the application was great. Other than a few instances of no water or electricity which I had expected, the accommodation was to an excellent standard. The food was lovely, I tried a lot of traditional dishes and often helped in the kitchen with cooking and cleaning.
I was very impressed with how friendly people were. I loved how colourful and green the environment was and how organic the food was. It was clear that agriculture is a huge part of life in Kenya and this inspired me to look into gardening back in England and grow my own vegetables. It was nice to experience living in Kenya and although as a traveller you have to remain vigilant and sensible at all times, I felt very safe and at home at IPI. To any future volunteers, go to IPI with an open mind, take part in everything possible, and make the most of the time you spend with the people there as you will miss them once you have left.

I have walked away with a lot of life experience and a connection to the community that will stay with me forever.

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susie Kemp

Susie has 30+ experience as a creative copywriter, editor, and proofreader, starting out as a 20-year-old copywriter in the Mad Men world of early 1990s advertising in South Africa. Ever since, she’s had a love affair with creative conceptualisation, thinking outside of the box, writing to a deadline, and being thrown in the deep end!

She took an MSc in Publishing at Edinburgh Napier University as a mature student, in 2015, and continues to keep herself busy working as a copy-editor, proofreader and copywriter in book publishing, corporate communications, and publishing project management.

Apart from her love of working with independent authors, Susie has a fondness for working in the third sector and likes to use her corporate communications and marketing experience to support projects close to her heart. She has lived and worked in the Findhorn area for 25 years, and has been involved in a number of third sector projects and organisations, and family businesses.

Working at Ecologia Youth Trust helps Susie to live in integrity with her values of supporting the next generation to be the best that they can be, and she sees it as a way to give back to Mama Africa, the beloved continent on which she was born.

Ellen Shaw

Ellen joined the Ecologia team in June 2018 as Marketing and Communications Manager. Ellen has lived in Scotland for 6 years and has worked for non-profit and charitable organisations across varied fields. She currently shares her passion for helping young people through Ecologia Youth Trust and she works as a dancer and dance teacher in her spare time.

Robyn Cooper

Robyn is the Associate Director of International Projects, having previously worked within the team as a Project Development and Marketing Officer from April 2019 until May 2021. As Associate Director, Robyn is co-leading the International side of Ecologia with Founder and Director, Liza Hollingshead, bringing a new energy into Ecologia as they look towards the future of the charity.

Liza Hollingshead

Liza is the founder of Ecologia and Director of International Projects. She was born and educated in South Africa and worked there as a high school teacher. She moved to live in the Findhorn Community in 1974. She started Ecologia in 1995 after being introduced to Dmitry Morozov, the founder of Kitezh Children’s Community in Russia, and was inspired to support the community in its mission to rescue orphaned children from institutions and give them homes, families and education in a supportive environment.

This led to projects supporting disadvantaged youth and children in South East Asia and in East Africa. TRead more about Liza’s story here.