At Camps International, we are lucky to have some truly incredible and inspiring women from all corners of the globe working as part of our amazing team.
Their impressive skills and ambition coupled with their rich local knowledge mean they are a powerful force in driving sustainable change, sharing their culture and helping to inspire international volunteers and local community members alike.
Mama Mercy – Women’s Group Leader, Camp Kenya
Mama Mercy is the inspiring and innovative leader of the Tumaini Women’s Group in Kenya, an amazing organisation we have been working closely with for over 5 years. A highly respected member of the community, Mercy is a force to be reckoned with and anyone who has volunteered with us at Camp Kenya is bound to remember her infectious smile and energy.
Mama Mercy initiated her first women’s group over 8 years ago and worked hard to bring a combined force to better the livelihoods for herself and her fellow women in the community. In 2012, she established Tumaini women’s group – an organisation which now has 30 members and acts as an umbrella to a further 300 members who are determined to jointly break the cycle of poverty within Maungu community and its surrounding areas.
Through Mama Mercy’s powerful determination, the group is working to promote sustainable livelihoods and self-reliance through a holistic model of community transformation which will benefit some of the most disadvantaged people in the community.
These women are extremely hard-working despite living in an extremely challenging environment, lacking food, water, shelter, education and electricity. Families struggle to live off the husband’s income alone, so the women have developed innovative ways to generate income and help support their families.
Currently the organization operate a small-scale jewellery-making business whereby they make beaded jewellery, bags and keyrings that can be sold to volunteers and tourists to generate revenue for the members.
A true community champion, Mama Mercy continues to lead the way on making a positive impact to change lives for the better.
Sonia – Head Chef, Camp Peru
Traditional cuisine plays a huge part in real cultural immersion, and Sonia’s amazing culinary knowledge and expertise helps bring Peruvian food and culture to life for our volunteers.
Her love of cooking started at an early age when she discovered a passion for trying new things in the kitchen. After spending a few years working as a chef for a French tourism company, in 2012 she won 2nd place in a huge national cooking competition, earning the opportunity to attend Latin America’s biggest gastronomic fair and work alongside famous chefs at some of Peru’s top cookery schools.
Drawing upon her vast experience, Sonia now uses her skills training our team of cooks in both Peru and Ecuador. As well sharing her knowledge of the best traditional dishes she also educates staff on the requirements for different diets, such as lactose-free and vegan, making sure we are able to cater for all our volunteers.
When she’s not busy training, Sonia works in our camp kitchens, serving up some of her favourite traditional dishes. Those of you who have been lucky enough to try her Lomo Saltado (a traditional stir fry dish) or Ceviche (a seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of Peru) will no doubt remember her outstanding cooking as a memorable part of your trip.
A firm believer in the importance of our project work, Sonia chooses to use her skills working for Camps in order to thank our volunteers for the amazing hard work they put in and provide them with the best possible experience during their time in South America.
Aida – Projects Manager, Camp Borneo
Aida is a core member of our Camp Borneo team, having worked with Camps International for over 7 years. She originally trained and worked as a tour guide, and now uses her extensive knowledge of Borneo in her role as Projects Manager at Camps International.
By working closely with local community leaders, Aida helps to establish new projects that are really needed and will provide long-term benefits to the community. She’s passionate about empowering people living in rural areas and working alongside locals to make a real difference.
Renowned by the rest of the team for her resourcefulness and creativity, Aida is known for her ability to find a million and one ways to make use of trash as building material, helping to tackle environmental issues at the same time as transforming community facilities. Her most recent – and favourite – project, was the construction of a new home for an elderly woman living near our Camp Mantanani, made from eco-bricks and upcycled waste collected from beaches.
From start to finish, she overseas every project – through the initial planning stages, co-ordinating and motivating our volunteer teams and making sure every single project we start is completed and handed over the local community.
So, what’s Aida’s advice to future volunteers and changemakers? “Come with an open mind, a great sense of adventure and tons of respect, then you will go a long way!”.
If you’re inspired by these stories and want to join us in making a difference around the world, click here to request a brochure and find out more about our volunteering programmes.