FIFTEEN-year-old Trinity Catholic College student, Bethany Doherty has recently returned from an experience of a lifetime, travelling for more than 19 hours to Kenya to volunteer with local charity organisation, Suluhisho Trust.
Beth, who is family friends with organisation founders Jacinta and Antipas Ojwang, said she was initially approached by the Ojwangs and asked if she would be interested in travelling with them to found an orphanage in Kenya.
She agreed to partake in the experience, having always held an interest in volunteering, and began preparations.
Three months later, Beth boarded the plane, the youngest of six volunteers. Upon returning, she told the Post the experience was unforgettable.
Littered streets, corrupt police, meat lying in the sun and the faint smell of blue cheese welcomed Beth to Kisumu in Western Kenya, where she found her group under strict security surveillance for the entire trip.
She reflects on the experience as an emotional one.
Caring for children left behind by their parents due to death, illness or otherwise, showed Beth the fragility of life and to appreciate the blessing of living in Australia.
“It was a really emotional experience to take some of the children away from their families to care for them,” she said.
“Life doesn’t seem important over there... it’s not valued as much “It really put life in perspective… you don’t realise how lucky you are until you experience it. I can’t really explain it; you have to experience it to understand.”
Trinity helped her raise $1000 before departing, funds which eventually went to paying for the orphaned children’s annual school fees, a fridge for the house and shoes for the children.
Settling back into the Australian lifestyle has been Beth’s biggest struggle upon return. She told the Post how frustrated she has been with the material focus evident in our society.
Beth plans to return to Africa next year, and in the future study Public Health at university in Africa.
“They have really good resources over there, people just can’t afford to access them,” she said.
When Beth left, the Suluhisho children’s home had 16 children in their care, aged between two and 12.
For more information on the trust please visit www.suluhishotrust.com.