Rockhampton woman teaches African villagers
SARAH Long has slept on the skin of a cow, built a traditional African hut out of cow dung and was the first white person the Masaai villagers she stayed with had ever seen.
The 20-year-old Rockhampton woman departed Australia in January this year and spent six months in Kenya teaching scholarly subjects to children and adults.
Sarah said she had always been interested in Africa and wanted to experience a hugely rich culture that was different from her own.
"I spent a majority of my time in a place called Nyali which is on the outskirts of Mombasa in Kenya and worked in a school called Nyota Ing'arayo," she said.
"I taught English, sport, art and reading to the children but we also taught maths, English and computers to a group of adults.
Seeing them progress and be proud of what they were achieving was indescribable.
"One of the highlights of my time in Africa was when I was invited to live with the Masaai village after befriending a Masaai warrior.
Being able to see the culture first hand and how they live day to day in such a remote place was something I could never put into words."
The former Emmaus College student said she now had a new outlook on life since returning from the poverty stricken country and no longer saw the world the same way.
"The poverty that I saw was nothing like I'd seen on television.
Nothing can really prepare you for it," she said.
"A gated housing estate and the slums are divided by a concrete wall, on one side of the wall you have children riding bikes and on the other are kids kicking empty plastic bottles.
"The village that I worked in was called Shauri-Yako and meant 'your own problem' but the people in Kenya are not defined by their circumstances.
Those kids taught me more than I could ever teach them and I will be forever grateful for that."
Sarah is planning on returning to Africa next year to visit the villages she called home for so long.
"I will be going back to Mombasa and to Nyota to see everyone again as well as out to Amboseli to see the Masaai I lived with," she said.
"This is something I'm so passionate about. We have a generation of people who are passionate about this kind of thing and preach on social media but I'd love to see more young people practicing what they preach."
Sarah has now been back in Australia for about three months and was lucky enough to leave Africa before the Ebola outbreak.
The virus has not yet affected the east part of Africa she stayed in.
Sarah is planning a fundraiser in the near future to raise money to fix the school building, buy new furniture, school supplies and help fund the feeding program within the Nyota.