Meet…Lauren & Elora who are off to Kenya!

30th January 2017

Two members of our intrepid nursery team are off to Kenya in July to help at the build a school project we have been supporting for the past year with African Adventures.

Lauren Parfoot from our Bersted nursery and Elora Chriss from Brinsbury, both stepped forward when the opportunity arose and are now busy preparing for this exciting adventure. We thought it would be good to get to know them both a bit better and find out why they are looking forward to this once in a lifetime opportunity…


Lauren, how long have you worked in childcare and, specifically, at First Steps?

First Steps was my first job in childcare after I had finished my college course. This will be my sixth year working here.


And Elora?

I have worked at First Steps for five years – it will be six in August.


What do you most enjoy about your jobs?

Lauren – being with the children. Knowing that I have an impact on helping them grow, learn and develop to reach their next milestones and having that continuous bond with them. Nothing beats the hugs, smiley faces, laughter, fabulous imaginations and proud moments I get when they learn something new.

Elora – I really enjoy watching each individual child grow in confidence and independence, watching them move from one milestone to the next is so rewarding.


If you could describe yourselves in three words, what would they be?

Elora – Outgoing, fun (that’s only two Elora! We’ve chosen one for you – warm)

Lauren – Ambitious, fun, caring


Why did you put yourself forward to go to Kenya Elora?

To gain this once in a lifetime opportunity was amazing – I am very excited to see their way of life and make a change for the better for everyone in their immediate environment.


And, Lauren?

I put myself forward to go to Kenya to broaden my horizon and enrich my experiences with new challenges and responsibilities and seeing a whole new way of life. I’m also keen to offer my skills and learn new ones.


What are you most looking forward to? 

Lauren: The whole trip! To make this project an absolute success; being part of the building and teaching, I’m excited about the chance to go on safari and I never thought I’d step over the equator! I am looking forward to the different experiences every day will bring. I really can’t wait!

Elora: I am most looking forward to the adventure although I think it is going to be quite a shock when I am there! I am also really looking forward to feeding the giraffes at the sanctuary.


How do you think you will be able to support the project whilst you are there?

Elora: By helping others and supporting a great cause, working together to meet new people and make a big difference to their environment.

Lauren: By bringing my knowledge, passion and teaching skills. I will be willing to give everything a go and will put every effort I have in to everything I do.


Are you worried about anything?

Lauren: Making sure I get all the right jabs needed, being prepared by having all the malaria preventions I can and being prepared for any emotional challenges we may come across.

Elora: I am really worried about the injections before we go!


What are you doing to prepare for the trip?

Lauren: I’ve done lots of research about the trip and about Kenya in general. Also, finding out about which jabs I need and what to take.

Elora: I have been reading up on the area and checking out what we will be doing. I am also keeping in contact with Lauren and have started to get a few bits together that I would like to take with me.


What home comforts will you struggle to go without?

Elora: I am really going to miss having a decent shower and my own bed!

Lauren: I will definitely miss my bed, Cadbury’s chocolate and not having a cup of tea!


What or who will you miss when you are there?

Lauren: I’ll miss my family, friends, my home comforts and a good roast dinner with all the trimmings!

Elora: I am going to miss my family and friends too. I know that my two dogs are going to miss me!


What will you be packing?

Lauren: The every day essentials, as much mosquito prevention products as I can and gifts for the children. Oh, and my camera so I can capture the amazing experiences!

Elora: I am going to be taking plenty of dry shampoo and baby wipes and I will also be taking sun cream.


Lauren, what do you think you will learn from this experience?

By stepping outside the world of normality and stepping into a whole new way of life, I think I’ll learn lots of new skills and broaden my knowledge about Kenya and the cultural differences.


Our General Manager Michelle Cogger, currently heading up our Bersted nursery, visited Kenya back in July 2013 as a volunteer and has been helping Lauren and Elora prepare for their visit with advice and tips from her experience.


Michelle, if you could offer the girls one piece of advice before they head out to Kenya, what would it be?

Throw yourselves whole-heartedly into the experience. Don’t take things too much to heart whilst you are there. You will see extremes of poverty that cannot be described so it can be easy to think how awful it is and feel very sad but it is important not to show that. Remember, this is their life! One of the things that really struck me was how happy everyone was – and that’s something to hold onto. Enjoy – it really is an opportunity of a lifetime.


Michelle kept a diary whilst she was in Kenya and we just love her final entry which seems like a perfect way to end this blog:

“And this was the end of my amazing, wonderful, eye-opening, sad, funny, mashed potato, peas and carrot filled Kenya trip.” Michelle


We can’t wait to hear all about Lauren and Elora’s experience this summer and look forward to sharing some of their pictures and words with you.

On behalf of everyone at First Steps, we are very proud of you both Lauren and Elora and wish you a fantastic trip. They will be very lucky to have you both there supporting this wonderful project.

And finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our families who have supported this project and helped raise (and continue to raise) the huge amount of money First Steps have been able to contribute to the build a school fund. None of this would have been possible without you so THANK YOU!