In Denmark, we have a saying that states ‘Away is good, but home is best’. And yes, home for me is safe, home is good, home means hot water, electricity and food everyday. However, this has never convinced me to stay at home and I am glad it has not. This conviction has always led me to travel a lot and experience new cultures – this year it led me to Tanzania, Africa.
My name is Marie Korfits and I am 21 years old. I live in Aarhus, Denmark with my boyfriend Jakob. I study Psychology at Aarhus University, which I enjoy very much.
After working and saving up money for six months last year, I decided to go to Africa to volunteer for some time. There was no particular reason why I chose Tanzania as my destination in Africa, but since my mum has travelled in the country I have always thought of it as a place I had to visit one day.
I went through the organisation called Projects Abroad, which gave me the opportunity to live with a local Tanzanian family in a little village and work at Nkoaranga Orphanage for three months. This experience is, without a doubt one of the biggest experiences of my life.
Living with a local family was very eye-opening and I got to experience the daily life of a Tanzanian family and was given a huge insight in Tanzanian culture through that. Life in the village was primitive and I slowly began to see electricity and hot water as a rare blessing rather than a part of daily life. I was also presented to some of the challenges Tanzanian families face everyday; how do we get food on the table, how to we fight malaria, how do we get water and how do we afford to send our kids to school.
As I started working at the orphanage things were put even more into perspective – suddenly I was surrounded by children, who didn’t even have parents, didn’t own any personal belongingss, didn’t own anything. Children who had a smile on their face every single day even though they have nothing at all. This struck me almost every single day – where do they find all this happiness, all these smiles and all these laughs when they have nothing at all.
To me, this was very inspirational and it made it so important to me to make these children feel loved and feel appreciated as the little bright individuals they all are. That is why I loved coming up there every morning to pick them up from their beds and meet them with love and care. That is also why I truly enjoy being part of The Small Things, where we all have an opportunity to keep being an influence on these children’s lives.
I often think back on all the memories I have from my work at the orphanage and with every single child that lives there. I remember David’s hilarious laugh when I would tickle his little stomach, I remember Loveness’ long hugs, I remember Neema’s first steps, I often laugh at Zawadi’s weird obsession with having her shoes on her hands, and I can not forget Frankies lovely smile and his big brown eyes. I can easily hear Simoni’s ‘Bob the Builder’ song and imagine Pray’s little games that he would pull on the volunteers’ patience. And it is impossible for me to forget Baracka’s lovely smile and adventurous mind, Maurini’s kisses and Andrea trying to convince me to put rubber boots on him everyday. In between all of these happy moments with the children, I also remember the sound of each and every one of them crying and the hours spent at the hospital waiting for malaria test results – I remember how badly Frankie’s fever could get, and how Baracka’s smile could get knocked out by malaria. I remember it all, and I will never forget the good and bad times spent in the company with these bright children, and I know for sure that I will do anything I can to spend many more with them.
Altogether, it was such a giving experience to get to be around these children at Nkoaranga Orphanage for three months and to be able to watch them grow, learn and live.
It also strenghened my conviction that away and home can be just as good – afterall, home should be defined as the place where the heart is – and a piece of my heart is with the children at Nkoaranga Orphanage.
I can only encourage people to show interest and commitment to the work we are doing with The Small Things in the hope of being able to help these children towards a bright and healthy future.
TheSmallThings – [email protected]