James is one of our Instant Network Volunteers. In June 2019 he was deployed to Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya on a Instant Network Schools mission. This is his story:
“It’s really important to me to have a purpose to my job. One of the reasons I applied for the Vodafone graduate scheme was because of the work of the Vodafone Foundation.
To be able to use my professional skills, through my employer, to support people in hardship is something many people wish for, so I feel immensely privileged and proud to be a part of the team.
As an openly LGBT+ employee the prospect of travelling to a country where being LGBT+ is illegal was definitely daunting. Before the deployment I reached out to the INS team and was given personalised advice specific to the location and my situation. I felt completely safe at all times on mission and afterwards was given the chance to share my story to the global company as I was the first openly LGBT+ employee to travel to Kenya for work purposes.
I had no idea what to expect, but I remember being astonished at the size of the refugee camp and its complete contrast to the highly metropolitan city of Nairobi. The camp is literally in the middle of nowhere with very few clear roads, and our sites were well separated requiring travel of at least 15 minutes by car; this showed what an incredible logistical feat it must have been to begin the INS programme.
The local community were greatly welcoming. I was stuck by their drive to better the situation for all. Some of our INS coaches were qualified teachers, engineers, coders and designers who were unable to find employment because of their refugee status and hence relied on the Vodafone Foundation as a means of income and helping others. I met people who were studying for degrees online using our INS centres, and heard how they’re inspired to return to their home countries and try to set-up something similar.
Volunteering for the Vodafone Foundation is the best thing I’ve ever done. The team has a great sense of camaraderie and I now have a global network of friends, both in Kakuma and in other Vodafone sites around the world!”