My community-based internship at AMREF

Written By: James Okwemba
I did my community based internship at The African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF). I went to the AMREF offices in Langata which is just next to Wilson Airport. The receptionist directed me to Owen Muindi, the program coordinator of Ungana (one of the departments). Owen briefed me on the organization and informed me about ungana and the requirements in order to secure a place for the internship within the organization.

I wrote an application letter to the membership and recruitment officer of AMREF Kenya and submitted my Curriculum Vitae.  I prepared the required documents in time to be handed over to Ungana office. The Program Coordinator told me to wait for their call. I got the call soon after telling me to be in their offices the next day by 8.00am. I went there and I was punctual as told. I also found some of the members of the organization and we were briefed on the rules and policies of the organization ad also the activities that the organization undertakes. We were told that the work time will be 9 hours a day; from 8.00am to 5.00pm.

• Engaging in volunteer activities that are geared towards development.
• Promoting social responsibility and advocate for active citizenship amongst young people.
• Educating young people about our society’s development opportunities and challenges and acting upon the raised awareness.
• Encouraging networking and sharing of skills, knowledge and experiences amongst young people from diverse backgrounds.

We visited some children’s homes and rehabilitation centres and other places and carried out the activities such as:
• Handling first aid issues
• Peer counseling
• Teaching/mentoring young children
• Sanitation and basic hygene
• Recreational activities (teaching sports to children)
• Opened medical clinic
• Fundraising (Participated in the Mater Heart run that aims to raise funds for kids with heart problems)

I gained many skills during my internship but more importantly I got the opportunity to understand how some people live in different societies of Kenya. In every community we visited, they had different ways of life for instance, they had policies, terms and conditions that applied in the communities that helped them grow. This also enabled the people from the communities to maintain their discipline.

I also gained some communication skills as I was doing the activities. One day we held a debate on children issues and I contributed with valid points. This helped me understand the importance of self-confidence and self-esteem. There was a lot of communication involved when we went to the children’s homes and rehabilitation centres.

We mentored the children and gave advice concerning life and its outcomes and also encouraged them to work hard and the importance of hard work. I also acquired some skills when dealing with issues of drug abuse. I also got the chance to expose and share my art skills as I taught kids how to draw and paint.
In addition to all this, I also learnt how to become responsible for those people that live in my surrounding. For instance, when it comes to my knowledge that my neighbor is abusing drugs, I will try to help him or her stop. I learnt more on how to become responsible for my life. I gained the knowledge of things that I should engage in life that can help me grow and develop physically, mentally, spiritually and socially and those that I should not engage in.
The internship will directly influence my future career plans as my dream job is to work in a hospitality industry and serve the people. Working in the hospitality industry, it’s essential to have good communication skills and to know how to handle different people. The internship activities are correlated with my classroom knowledge as we learn communication skills in our first year of university. The theory I learned in the classroom was being put to use in the field. I have acquired a vast array of skills that I am able to apply not only to my internship but in life.

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