My experience with IMA was both very positive and memorable in the entire four months I interned as a practitioner. I found the support of both Bella and Phares to be on point in that they were always available to address any questions and/or concerns I had – as well as proactively followed-up each and every time. Bella and Phares are very approachable and friendly individuals. 

My placement at the GBVRC at CPGH was definitely a highlight of my time in Mombasa, Kenya. As a Counsellor early in my vocation, I was able to both learn and practice even more so about trauma counselling, and how it applies to survivors of defilement and rape. I was provided with thorough shadowing and training for some weeks before I commenced counselling independently. In this placement, I was able to help fill a void, as the centre was understaffed. By taking on primarily counselling work, in the time that I was at Gender, it allowed the clinic’s Nurse (in-charge) to focus on medical exams, as she used to do both counselling and medical exams. I found the staff, Saida and Mary, very welcoming, accommodating, caring, and helpful at all times. 

Throughout my time with IMA, I always felt safe, whether at the residence, on the road, in the hospital, or elsewhere. I felt that IMA made safety a priority and we were briefed at the start of our internships about local safety and so on. By having Javan always drop us off and pick us up from the hospital was especially helpful. Javan was always very careful when driving us from place to place and his friendly persona was always appreciated. The guards at the residence too were always very helpful and caring towards us too. 

The residence was very accommodating and provided us with luxuries such as hot water, air-conditioning, and even wifi. I appreciate that the rooms were simple and shared as it allowed us interns to get to know others more. By sharing rooms, we also had to learn and practice balancing everyone’s needs, and adjusting/being flexible. We were fortunate to have housekeepers who worked hard in ensuring that our rooms, bathrooms, and laundry were up-to-date. Rehema, Naomie, and Victoria were very easy to approach and always very helpful. 

Chefs Wilson and Osman were wonderful chefs. They were both cooking for us a variety of local and international dishes for lunches and dinners. The chefs provided me with filling packed lunches too when I was at the hospital for longer shifts. The chefs would always take on board our dietary requirements as well as cook on request any meals that we might be craving from home e.g. pizza or a favorite local dish from Mombasa. 

The impact on me, that interning with IMA has left on me, can only be described as overwhelming (in a positive way). In the months that I was in Mombasa, I learnt so much about Kenya and its culture, Kenyans, trauma counselling, sexual violence, and about challenging myself. I am so grateful for everything that I was exposed to as I acquired many learning opportunities and life experiences. I always desired practicing counselling in East Africa, and having the opportunity to do so via IMA, and with such an at-risk population group, was most definitely fulfilling and something I will be eternally grateful for.

I would like to hope that I offered both the residence community and the GBVRC community my entire self when I was on placement. I feel that within the residence, I offered a helping hand and caring heart, as I truly do enjoy supporting others. Whenever I was referred to as the “house captain” or “mum of the house” – it was always something I took seriously. In the residence, I tried my best to help others, help the staff, and of course to be responsible. 

Within the GBVRC community, I hope that I was able to help comfort my clients in knowing that such violent acts do not determine who a person is. Rather, it is what the survivors choose to do next in moving forward, and knowing that myself and Gender will always be there to support them with counselling and medical support. I believe the counselling that I provided my clients with was the start of the healing process. For quite a few clients, we explored several sessions, and the healing process was further advanced, whereby clients were adjusting to leaving the violent act behind them, and that they were carrying on with their lives, and with a different perspective on life.

Gender-Based Violence is an area of counselling unique to East Africa and especially Kenya. Yes, in Australia we have counselling services for victims of rape and sexual assault, but, it is almost unheard of that a child has been defiled. As a Children’s Counsellor interested in trauma counselling, I was able to apply and practice my own counselling skills, as well as learn more about trauma counselling skills specific for survivors of defilement and rape.

Through the GBVRC, I was able to participate in an outreach program called 160 Girls’ Justice Clubs. I had the opportunity to work with three local primary schools in educating students about defilement; how to identify it, how to ask for help, and what to do if someone has been defiled. This program is primarily based in Kenya and again another unique experience of my time with both GBVRC and IMA.

I went on the Watamu Beach Safari and I absolutely loved it. I was very happy with everything and wouldn’t change anything. If a change had to be made, maybe add an extra free day, just to explore or wander around.