Ng'ome Giriama Youth Project
Mombasa, Kenya
2011

In 2009 I spent 3 life-changing months working in Mombasa, Kenya as a volunteer teacher in Maweni Primary School with Irish NGO Suas (http://www.suas.ie) I loved it so much, I went back in 2011 with Global Vision International (http://www.gvi.ie) to volunteer in Olives Primary School. You can read about my experiences in more detail at  http://miriam-in-mombasa.blogspot.com)

One of the best experiences I had was getting to meet and work with the Ng'ome Giriama Youth Project. Some of my students invited me to come with them after school to a dance competition and I went without any idea what to expect. I walked into a beautiful coral cave and discovered a group of local fire-breathing acrobats training street kids in acrobatic skills, hosting dance parties to let them play and express themselves and in many instances, providing them a safe place to socialise and sleep .

It was incredible to see children who were shy and hesitant in school come alive with dance and acrobatics - once their bodies were free to move, their personalities shone through. I was asked by the group leaders if I would teach some English classes in the cave in the evenings (many of the children present did not attend school of any kind) and I immediately agreed. I spent many happy months in the most beautiful classroom I have ever had, fully appreciating for the first time in my life the importance of embodied language learning - our bodies, voices and beautiful natural environment were often our only teaching resources.

I taught English through drawing, dancing, singing and drama and tried to connect their love of acrobatics and dance with our English lessons. Many of the other volunteers in Olives joined me, teaching their own lessons in maths, science and French, and when I returned home, they made sure the project continued. In return, the children taught us some acrobatics - I wasn't quite brave enough for the fire-breathing!

Ng'ome Giriama continues to do excellent work in the community and you can learn more about their efforts here:

https://www.facebook.com/Ngome-Giriama-Project-Ziwa-La-Ngombe

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