Volunteer visit to Starehe Boys Centre

Members of the Old Starehian Society UK arranged for volunteer Lily Crowther to spend two weeks at the boys school in October 2023. Read about her experience;


"I completed my A-Levels this summer and achieved a place to study Medicine at Newcastle University from September 2024, with plans to work and travel during my gap year. With the help of alumni Dr John Kibugi (my mother’s work colleague in the UK), my first adventure was spent in Kenya for the month of October, two weeks of which I stayed at Starehe Boys Centre as a volunteer. 

Having been introduced during my first assembly I felt extremely welcomed into the Starehe community and was so impressed by the famous school band! Having attended a boarding school myself I was really interested to identify the similarities and differences between my time in education and the boys at Starehe. One notable difference was how disciplined the boys are, despite their rigorous school routine, such as very early mornings that I certainly didn’t participate in! Also, I was surprised by the prefect ranking system in place and how the school ran so smoothly almost entirely under the control of the boys’ own leadership.  

During my time at Starehe I assisted with a number of different things, from teaching to swim coaching to exam advice. I attended many lessons in a range of subjects across all year groups and found it interesting to compare their curriculum compared to the content that I learnt at school. I taught a Form 1 class some pronunciation during one of their English lessons and spoke to Form 4 about preparing for national examinations. My particular passions are Biology and Chemistry so I spent a lot of time in the science departments, helping to prepare practical examinations, attending lessons and helping the teachers with marking. 

As a keen swimmer, I thoroughly enjoyed being involved with the swim team and it was so rewarding to see the boys improve as they took on my advice. I even joined them in the pool during my final session but struggled with the lack of lane ropes and flags!

I was very fortunate that my time at Starehe happened to coincide with the Round Square preconference. This meant that not only did I get to meet students from all over the world but I was able to explore other parts of Kenya, such as joining in with the visits to Nairobi National Park and Lake Naivasha. 

It is hard to select just one highlight from the many experiences that I had at the centre but the school talent show really did stand out to me. The boys’ energy and enthusiasm really was contagious and I loved the true sense of community that I could feel whilst sat in the hall. 

The purpose of my visit to Starehe was with the intention of sharing some of my experiences in life and education with the boys and staff. So I hope that through our many interactions and discussions I was able to benefit the school community. However, it was also such an incredible learning opportunity for myself. My eyes were really opened to a whole new culture and way of life. I’m so grateful to all those at Starehe, staff and pupils, who made my time with them possible, memorable and successful."

Lily Crowther


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