Jacob, Destiny Garden School Director, and Boaz, the School Manager, gave a warm welcome to Mark and Junko. This was to be a working holiday but with some time taken out to visit a beach and a safari park. Mark, an architect from Allies & Morrison, London, was there to undertake a site visit in connection with the proposed new Dining Shelter, and his wife Junko was his assistant. The ground levels had to be measured, dimensions of the site taken and prospective contractors interviewed. However Mark and Junko spent time with the DGS children and staff, and even found time to run some workshops. The visit was a great success; please see this link to their report.
Alana and her friends Vanessa and Meredith, from Colorado, USA, enjoyed doing some voluntary work at Destiny Garden School. Alana says:
“We had an amazing time getting to volunteer and learn more about the school, and were extremely welcomed by Boaz, Jacob, and his family and everyone at the school. I was impressed with all Jacob has put into the creation of Destiny Garden School and how huge a difference this is making for so many children. I was so touched by the love, care, authenticity, intention, and creation of this school benefiting so many children in an impoverished area, and how talented each teacher is in what they have to offer their students. Words are not enough to describe how grateful I am for my time with Destiny Garden School, the impact the experience has had on me, and my desire to stay connected with DGS”
For more details see Alana’s Reflections
Anne Nightingale, a volunteer from the Republic of Ireland, spent 2 months in 2012 doing voluntary work at Destiny Garden School. Anne says:
“I had a wonderful time at Destiny Garden School – a great experience and education for me. Jacob and all the staff are doing great work there, and the children are a delight. Living in Jacob’s house and having my meals cooked by his two house girls, Happy and Phoebe, was a wonderful experience of real Kenyan food and hospitality. Jacob and his family were very kind to me.”
“Hello, my name is Regina Schack and I’m 23 years old. My first time in Kenya was in 2010. I lived with Jacob and his family and with some other volunteers. We had a lot of fun together, enjoyed ourselves and got to know a lot about Mombasa and Kenya. I went to the DGS School every day. On some days I had a class on my own and I taught them maths, English or I played or sang with them. On the others days I supported a teacher with correcting exams or exercises. It was great to see how they work and teach in Kenya. Also to be together with the children was so amazing. Even though they are very poor, they laugh, sing and dance. They seem to be happy and this was the fact that really impressed me. They also appreciate everything you do with them.
I really fell in love with the country. That’s why I came back this year (2012) with my boyfriend Bernd. We did fundraising at home and so we were able to sponsor a kitchen for the school. It was a very important fact because the old kitchen was very smoky and there were already health problems because of the kitchen, which the Kenyan Health Authorities had pointed out.
I was so happy because the children didn’t forget me, they still know my name. With the donation we also bought mangos, biscuits and orange juice for the kids. It was one of the great moments in life by giving them the food. They laughed and were just happy.
Next year, we will come back again; Kenya and the children touched our lives!”
Whilst on holiday in Kenya in June 2011, Jayne and Martin visited Destiny Garden School. They met up with Victor, the School Manager, who took them on a shopping trip to central Mombasa to buy food and text books for the school, they spent the afternoon with the children and watched some of their lessons.
Jayne says “Victor and all the teachers were very welcoming and it was lovely to learn about the school, do some skipping and play with the children. We were very impressed by what the school has achieved so far and are look forward to watching it continue to grow. What impressed us the most, was the eagerness of the children to learn! They are so respectful and attentive in class and when a question is asked, you immediately witness a sea of hands and cheerful calls of ‘teacher, teacher’, keen to answer!”
“To anyone going on holiday or planning a visit to the area, I would definitely recommend visiting the school. We were hesitant at first and wary of visiting because we were unable to dedicate the time we wanted to with the children (it was a group family holiday), but I do feel the few hundred pounds we did manage to raise with the help of our family and friends and the day spent with the children were of great benefit to them and us. We have decided to sponsor Alex in year 4 and to continue to support the school and would like to thank everyone there for their hard work and the good they are doing in educating these children towards a brighter future.”
Amy and Mark booked a trip to Kenya for some winter sun in March 2011 and wanted to do something worthwhile whilst there. They came across Destiny Garden School on the internet and arranged to visit the school.
Amy says: “we have had an unforgettable trip to an amazing charity and cause. We met some fantastic people and unbelievably brave and wonderful children.”
“What the Destiny Garden School offers is a safe haven, a good education and regular meals. Jacob, the School Director, is so remarkable we did name him “The busiest man in Mombasa”; he is constantly working to give more to these children and the future of Kenya, because children are the future. Jacob’s motto “Education is the way out of poverty” fits here perfectly.”
Amy and Mark with DGS Staff
“We met the Governing Commissionaire, who wanted to thank us in person for what we are doing and the help we are providing, without people like us there would be no schools like Destiny Garden. She said “this is not a drop in the ocean, it is a pebble in a bucket, so a big thank you”
“The £500 we raised before our visit to Mombasa bought 17 desks. We managed to get an increase to our baggage allowance and took donations of clothes and stationery. We would like to say a big thank you to all those who contributed and put smiles on so many faces, 240 young ones to be exact.”
Judy Roper, Chairperson of the UK charity, Destiny Children, visited Destiny Garden School during February 2011. Her principle job whilst there was to update the Charity’s records, together with those for the sponsorship programme, which entailed taking photos and updating the profiles of all the 245 children now at the school.
Judy says “The visit went brilliantly. It was great to see all the children again and many remembered me from my last visit. The school has come on leaps and bounds but still has a long way to go. Jacob is trying so hard with everything and is well known and respected by the people in the local community, who really appreciate DGS.”
Matt Mcguinness visited Destiny Garden School on 3rd November 2010. He raised funds before his trip to go towards new desks, which were made by our local carpenter. He also collected many different football shirts from friends and family, and there was great excitement amongst the DGS children when he delivered them.
Matt says “It was good to see the desks being made, and to know that ALL the money raised goes to the school, and isn’t swallowed up in admin etc.”
“I am used to poverty, having been well traveled in the past, but I was still shocked at just how little these children have ……. and to anyone who reads this and is thinking about helping out … please, please go for it.”
Sarra, from the UK is our youngest volunteer to date, just 16 years old, and she volunteered for 5 weeks from 10h July to 16th August 2010. She was accompanied by her brother, please see his report below. Sarra also did some voluntary work a Medical Centre in Mombasa
At the end of her time in Mombasa, Sarra was joined by her parents and younger brother and sister. The family all helped at Destiny Garden School and later they took the opportunity to visit the Tsavo East National Game Reserve.
Sarra says – “This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and I would urge anyone considering volunteering to just go for it! I can honestly say that there was not a day that went past where the children did not make me smile.”
“I am so thankful to everyone that made my stay in Kenya a memorable one. I feel privileged to think that I made a difference to a lot of children’s life.”
Faaris from the UK worked at both a Medical Centre and at Destiny Garden School from 10 July to 16 August 2010.
He says – “My 5 weeks of volunteering at Destiny Gardens School was undoubtedly the most amazing experience of my entire life.”
“The children are full of life and love your company. I was fortunate enough to play football and other games with them on a daily basis. I also offered to teach a few lessons, where i was amazed to witness how hard working and committed the children are, especially at such a young age.”
“The staff at the school are fantastic. They’re all fully committed to giving their all for the sake of the children and always make you feel right at home, come rain or shine.”
“Destiny Gardens School is most definitely going places fast. In the short time i was there, a brand new library and clinic were built. Now the kids are able to broaden their horizons, through the books that have been donated and more importantly, they can stay healthy through proper medical treatment, allowing them to excel in their studies.”
“Aside from Volunteering, there’s plenty to do in Mombasa. Whether its spending time on beautiful beaches, or a historic trip to old town, one thing’s for sure – you’ll never have a boring day! Overall, my experience in Kenya is one I will never forget. I loved every single minute of it and can’t wait to go back and do it all over again! “
Sydney from the USA worked at Destiny Garden School for four months from March to June 2010. Sydney said ” My experience in Destiny Garden School has been unforgettable and has been one of the best experiences of my life. “
“Staying with Jacob and Brenda in their home was wonderful. They are such open, caring people and I felt like I was part of the family. Living with a local family also gives you insight into Kenyan culture and what it really means to “be Kenyan” that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.”
Val Lear and her daughter Nadine worked at Destiny Garden School for three weeks over the Easter break, 2010.
Val said – “Jacob and his family were very friendly and welcomed us into their home like old friends. We felt very safe there. We had made many friends in and out of the school environment and we even managed to see some of the countryside and explored Mombasa. We will miss everyone back in the cold of England but look forward to our return!”
“My overall impression of DGS is that it is a school of smiles but also a school of hard work. It deserves to do well.”
Bailey, from Canada, spent a few days doing voluntary work at Destiny Garden School in January 2010. She says – “Staying with Jacob and helping out around the school has been an incredible experience. In my few days at the school I was able to see how the teachers and staff go out of their way to look after the multi-dimensional needs of the kids, learning, but also play and providing them with food.”
“I was also able to provide the school with books for class 1 through 4. I know that these will go to good use and hopefully help the kids get a solid beginning on their long road to success.”
Guy, a businessman from London, undertook voluntary work at Destiny Garden School in December/January 2009-2010 and was there over the Christmas and New Year period.
Guy says – “My time at Destiny Garden School can be described as the most rewarding experience of my life. Jacob and Brenda welcomed me into their home in Mombasa with open arms and nothing was too much trouble, from there it was easy to get to the school every day and travel around at weekends.
The kids were just fantastic, they all look out for each other and the sense of community and pride in the face of such adversity is a testament to the passion and support bestowed on the school from Jacob, the teachers and other supporters from around the world.
I miss all their always smiling little faces, can’t wait to go back but overall I am pleased I have found such a worthy cause to support where ALL of the donations help the children directly. A little help goes a very long way.”
For more details of his visit, see Guys full report
Alex from Germany is reading African Studies at University and, during his summer 2009 holidays, is doing voluntary work at Destiny Garden School to learn more about the African culture and to practice his Swahili.
Alex says – “I was lucky to find Destiny Garden School which answered my needs, namely being a small organisation with a vision and with the will to do something and with their focus on children in a very poor region of Mombasa.
Due to staff shortages, on my third day I had to take a class and unfortunately was rather unprepared but in the end the children made it very easy for me because they appreciated everything one does so much. It has been a really truly great experience for me.”
Judy spent 3 weeks in September 2009 at Destiny Garden School to help buy sports equipment from funds raised by her friends in the UK and to also help set up their website and get a sponsorship program in place.
Judy photographed all the children individually and, with the help of the School Administrator, Masikah who is pictured here, wrote up their profiles.
Judy says – “It’s all been a marvellous experience, very uplifting when you see the joy it brings to these very poor children’s lives. I fully support Jacob’s vision of getting these children out of the poverty trap through education.”
“I went to Mombasa as part of my nurse training to work in a local clinic for a month, June 2009. By a chance meeting I met Jackie, a volunteer and Jacob and from them I heard a lot about the school. On my day off I visited the school and really enjoyed spending time with the children.
Even during my short time in Mombasa, the school progressed every time I visited, from desks and chairs bought to school uniforms being issued. The kids were all very polite, and really enjoyed my visits.
Although I did not stay with Jacob, I have seen the accommodation and it is lovely. I have also spent time with Brenda, his wife, who is a very kind lady. I would recommend visiting Destiny Garden School and I am going to continue to raise funds for them. I will certainly be visiting them again.”
Jessica from Canada is studying to be a community development worker. She came to Destiny Gardens in the summer of 2009 to get some experience working with a grass roots organization.
Jessica says – “I can’t speak highly enough about my time in Africa. The kids were amazing. They are so eager to get to know you. If you are willing to spend the time reading a book you will quickly find yourself surrounded by a bunch of wonderful kids super excited to listen, it’s adorable. I was so surprised by how quickly I bonded with them.
As a community development student I really admire Jacob’s focus on the future of the school. He is always looking for new and inventive ways to make the school self-sustainable. For example he started a garden on the school grounds. The crops from the garden are fed to the children and sold to raise money for the school.
This program is also a great way to experience Africa. The volunteer house Jacob provides is close to all sorts of great tourist attractions like safaris and beaches. You really get the best of both worlds program.”
Shannon, from the U.S.A, is a college graduate with a degree in elementary education. She did voluntary work at Destiny Gardens School during the summer of 2009.
Shannon says – “I had an incredible experience in Kenya this summer. For two months, I taught class 1 at Destiny Gardens School. It was challenging due to the lack of supplies and the fact that English is the children’s second language. However, being able to spend time with the kids every day and getting to know them made it all worth it.
The children are so energetic, playful, lovable and eager to learn. We started each morning by greeting one another, and answering the question of the day. Then we would play a quick game or dance before starting on academics each day. I can’t describe how much I miss them and how much I can’t wait to get back to Mtongwe to see them again.
During my stay I lived with Jacob, his wife and other volunteers in Mombasa. Our apartment was really nice and was located close to restaurants and internet cafes. On weekends, we travelled around exploring Kenya. We went on safari together, to beaches, Nairobi, a Maasai village and many other places. Overall, it was an amazing adventure and would recommend anyone to go and experience it for themselves.”
Destiny Garden School opened in April 2009 and Jackie, who lives in Australia, joined the School project in May for 6 months, from May to November 2009 . Jackie found it exciting being involved in the project from the beginning and her voluntary work varied from teaching Masikah, the school administrator, some basic bookkeeping, to helping Jacob set up safe and comfortable accommodation for volunteers.
Amongst other things, Jackie has helped the school get desks, chairs and blackboards for the classrooms and school uniforms for the children. Her Friends in Australia held a fund raising event which raised enough to enable the School to build a new toilet block. Jackie says –
“Working at Destiny Garden School has been a truly rewarding experience and I cannot speak highly enough of what Jacob is doing to help these poor and vulnerable children. I have lived in Jacob’s apartment with his wife, Brenda and their baby daughter Marvel, for the last 6 months. They have made me part of the family and looked after me in a way I never expected.
I would have no hesitation in recommending other volunteers to come and work at Destiny Garden School.”
Janette Hodgkinson worked as a volunteer at Destiny Garden School for 8 weeks in January and February 2013. She chose DGS after reading about the school on their website and being impressed with the vision and how the school had progressed in such a short time.
Janette says: “My ‘home’ for the time I was in Mombasa was with Jacob (the school founder and director), his wife Brenda and their two beautiful children. I was truly part of their family and had a wonderful time staying with them. I was almost converted to eating ugali! My 8 weeks flew by and I can’t wait to go back. On my last day the children sang a song which included the words ‘we will never, never forget you’. I will never, never forget them.”
Simon and Michelle, both keen supporters of Destiny Garden School, visited the school in August 2012 and filmed the children and staff. Simon operated the camera whilst Michelle interviewed Jacob, the School Director.
Simon says: “I have nothing but admiration for what Destiny Garden School has set out to achieve for its future, and I was extremely privileged to have been able to visit the school and see first-hand the developments (and problems) that the school encounters on a daily basis. There is so much more work to be done but so much has been done already, and the evidence is right there to see.
What was also incredible was to encounter the spirit of the school which you can’t feel from looking at a DGS report, so I would encourage those people that would like to go who either sponsor or support the school financially (or other) to discover the brilliant things that go on there.”
Watch the video: