Jonty Gillingham’s Gap Year – OSA travel scholarship

In August 2016 I travelled to Kenya to volunteer in the PE and Games department of Braeburn School, Nairobi. The Braeburn School franchise stretches across East Africa, from Kenya to Tanzania. The primary school where I spent the majority of my time has 850 pupils, so it’s bigger than Scarborough, but very similar in other ways. Braeburn has great staff in the PE department and a fantastic senior team devoted to taking the school forward. Its students are keen and committed to learning.

Beyond Braeburn school, I also volunteered in Upendo orphanage in the local slum, Kawangware. Upendo means ‘love’ in Swahili and describes the orphanage perfectly. The Upendo children live in awful conditions; sometimes they have nothing to eat and drink. However, they are some of the most cheerful and loving children I’ve met. All they really want is the opportunity to go to school and learn.

Kenya is absolutely beautiful, with so many fantastic places to visit across the country: from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi to the Maasai Mara. My personal favourites were Diani and Watamu on the coast.

Taking a gap year was one of the best decisions I have ever made. If anyone reading this is debating whether or not to take a gap year and go abroad, my advice is: do it. Whether it’s abroad or closer to home you won’t regret it.

Massive thanks to the Old Scardeburgians’  Association for the generous grant which allowed me to have one of the most rewarding years in my life. I will never forget it.