Student Volunteers Build and Bond with a School in Kenya

Teens worked on a girls’ dormitory and supported a Vacation Bible School program.

Maranatha Volunteers International
Student Volunteers Build and Bond with a School in Kenya
Some of the students from Sonora, California, United States, who recently spent 10 days laying the block walls of a girls’ dormitory at the Kimogoro Adventist Boarding Primary School in Kenya. [Photo: Maranatha Volunteers International]

A group of students and parents from Sonora, California, United States, recently embarked on an exciting service adventure in Kenya with Maranatha Volunteers International. The team spent 10 days laying the block walls of a girls’ dormitory at the Kimogoro Adventist Boarding Primary School in hilly western Kenya.

This project is part of Maranatha’s campus-wide transformation at Kimogoro. So far, crews and volunteers have constructed dorms, bathrooms, a kitchen and dining hall, and a water well. These structures had been run down and overcrowded, but the school’s 300 students now have beautiful new spaces in which to live and learn. In the coming months, several volunteer groups will build more structures, including new classrooms and a church for the campus.

The 46-member Sonora team included some of Maranatha’s youngest volunteers to lay block at a construction site. Fifth- through eighth-graders worked alongside highschoolers and parents, tackling hard manual labor with energetic determination.

“We have a lot of strong-willed kids,” project coordinator Jennifer Neufeld-Trujillo said. These young people rose above and beyond the task at hand, she added. Not only did the group reach their goal of completing the girls’ dorm but also 80 percent of its bathroom block.

After each day of physically demanding labor, volunteers still had the energy to lead a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program for Kimogoro students. They shared their love for Jesus through songs, crafts, health talks, and Bible story skits. They also shared their love for sports. “We took sports equipment with us because that’s what our students love,” Neufeld-Trujillo said. Sonora kids were thrilled to discover that Kimogoro students love sports too. The groups bonded during games like soccer, volleyball, kickball, and jump rope.

A surprise aspect of this trip was the medical assistance Sonora volunteers provided. This need became apparent to Neufeld-Trujillo during the first couple of days at the campus. “I saw a little girl sitting down and crying,” she recalled. “She was holding her knee, and I thought she must have fallen during one of the games. Her knee was infected. She couldn’t bend it. She was limping.” Neufeld-Trujillo and a couple of the other parent volunteers are professional health-care providers. After they were able to treat the little girl’s leg, school staff brought more and more students to them for care.

“It was an impromptu clinic we thought would last a couple hours, and it ended up lasting the rest of the day,” Neufeld-Trujillo said. By the clinic’s close, they had treated roughly 70 patients with medicine donated by the Adventist Health Sonora hospital. They had brought it with them in case volunteers became ill or injured. “It was such a blessing, because we had medicine that we could use to treat them,” Neufeld-Trujillo said.

Neufeld-Trujillo believes her team proved what is possible with God’s guidance and support. “Our team was phenomenal!” she said. “They were enthusiastic and positive, and strong in attitude and body. They are the ones who made the project successful. They allowed God to use them to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.”

Maranatha Volunteers International, a supporting ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, mobilizes volunteers to build churches, schools, water wells, and other urgently needed structures around the world. Maranatha has been working in Kenya since 2016, building One-Day Churches and schools and drilling water wells. More than 1,000 structures have been completed so far.

The original version of this story was posted by Maranatha Volunteers International, which is an independent supporting ministry and is not operated by the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Maranatha Volunteers International