Why volunteer with International Peace Initiatives in Kenya?

Why volunteer with International Peace Initiatives in Kenya?

IPI’s resident children outside their Community Centre

What is like to volunteer in Kenya for IPI?

The first thing that struck me about the Community Centre run by International Peace Initiatives (IPI) in Meru, Kenya, is that it is a living model of what hope can bring to communities living in extremely difficult situations of ill health and poverty.

Greenhouse and IPI grounds
Greenhouse and IPI gardens

Set up by Dr. Karambu Ringera in 2002 to help HIV positive mothers regain strength and control over their lives or, if necessary, to provide care for their children if these mothers become unable to look after them, Dr. Ringera has turned the centre into a trusted hub of sustainable farming, eco-technologies, peacebuilding workshops, empowerment programmes, and skills training courses. The children’s home is still there, and the vibrant energy of 30 plus children running around fills the atmosphere with laughter and music. Even the grounds of the centre itself are testament to what can be achieved with determination and faith – once a wasteland that no one saw any use for, it is now filled with flowers, grass and trees.

Women holding detergent bottles
Women selling their wares after a detergent making course

Many different types of volunteers may want to come here. Perhaps those studying international development may want to support an ethical project which is truly grassroots-led, using highly participatory processes to ensure that the surrounding community is supported to find its own solutions to its problems.  The results are striking, with hundreds of vulnerable women now using skills in tailoring, jewellery-making and catering in order to earn an income to support their families. Community-building initiatives are making changes on the ground as people join together in peace-building activities, challenging issues such as HIV/Aids, alcohol addiction amongst youths, ensuring peaceful campaigning at elections, or empowering women to access their socio-economic rights.

Vegetable gardens at IPI
Vegetable gardens at IPI

Those interested in eco-living and sustainability will see it modeled and demonstrated at IPI through the solar panels for electricity, the biogas system for cooking, the organic farm which feeds the staff and children, and the principles of IPI to waste nothing. In addition, a conference centre is being built to gather together those most active in sustainability from across the world. Dr. Ringera herself is a board member of the African branch of the Global Ecovillage Network.

As for what you could contribute, that depends on your talents and interests. Help is needed everywhere – A day could consist of helping on the farm, supporting skills training or empowerment workshops, teaching English to the children of IPI, or in the local primary schools, or to adults in the surrounding community. Or you could turn up, learn what’s going on and suggest your own ideas for your projects. IPI needs self-reliant, pro-active people to come out and join in their movement for grassroots sustainable community-building and peace-building. I found it a privilege to join in. I’m sure you will too.

Group photo with Sally Aug13
Sally with a local women’s group at IPI

To find out more, visit our Volunteer in Kenya page.

Sally Bogale, Fundraiser (Sally visited IPI in August, 2013)

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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.