|Claire and Gracie|
Coming to Tanzania as three privileged people has made us more appreciative of everything we have, and allowed us to recognize our good fortune and focus on what is truly important. Straight away we all felt a sense of connection and love between everyone at Nkoaranga orphanage.We take for granted all the necessities that the orphanage so strongly depends on – we don’t realise how lucky we are to have access to the basics whenever we want in our countries.
Nkoaranga orphanage offers a community and access to education, which is vital for these children in their process. Education is extremely important for the children and they are so lucky to have the school house and access to our own wonderful teacher. We volunteers look back to our home towns and recognize many younger individuals that abuse the opportunity of education, which can change lives here. It’s not something we will take for granted again!
|Peter and Shujah|
The most important factor the orphanage offers is their home. The passion and hard work of everyone involved in the orphanage (and The Small Things!) is the reason for the success and happiness of the kids. This success comes from the pure love and attention that the kids receive from the mamas, volunteers, and each other. They all want to please, and all depend on this nurturing to thrive.
The orphanage offers good nutrition, medical care, and a healthy environment for these children, which in this society is nothing to be taken for granted. They are bathed and changed continuously, and all the children are very well fed – don’t let the fact that they chant “CHAKULA!” or “FOOD!” before each meal trick you into thinking they aren’t! The children have a strong bond with each mama, and it’s heartwarming to see these relationships. The mamas are extremely hardworking, and the orphanage could not function without them.
We each have our own personal memories of the orphanage – below, we will each write about some of our favorite moments.
|Ester shot by Claire|
Claire: My name is Claire Wyatt, I’m sixteen years old, and coming to Tanzania has completely changed my perspective. I encourage any young people to do something like this when the opportunity arises, because it puts your priorities in order and makes you realize what’s truly important. I come from a big family – I have two brothers, two sisters, and three step-sisters. Before I came here, I was always grateful for having such a big family, but now I appreciate it even more. The orphanage feels like one big family, with all of the children (and their big personalities!) forming strong bonds with each other. Pendo is definitely the little mama, and Simoni is everyone’s cautious grandfather. My fondest memory comes from a day when I was sitting in the house, which looks onto the orphanage. I watched little Ester (2 years old), who had wandered outside on her own, and started to cry. I was about to go comfort her, but before I could act, I saw Loveness (age 4) walk up to Ester and wipe her face, pick her up, and take her inside. This moment brought home to me how deep the bonds are between these kids, and how they look out for each other. It made me realize that while they may not have parents, they do have a family in each other.
|Stine and Ebenezer|
Stine and Peter: Our names are Stine and Peter, we come from Denmark and we chose to volunteer over a year ago. We didn’t have the slightest idea what to expect – we were totally overwhelmed by the love and the trust the children put in our hands from the first moment. This alone would have made the trip worthwhile!
Our greatest moment was to see the development of baby Ebenezer, who suffered from a bad bout of pneumonia when we first arrived at the orphanage. Stine in particular felt drawn to him from day one. He is over three months old but his size is similar to a newborn, despite how much he’s grown since first coming to the orphanage. We noticed straight away his trouble breathing, and after a short period of time, Stine felt a strong passion and responsibility and passion to act as his mother would have. She spent most of her time at the orphanage caring for him, and she felt a strong connection whenever their eyes met. After just a few days she could tell he recognized her as well, and felt safe. During our stay, though, he was extremely ill and struggled to keep weight on, as he was also having stomach trouble from his antibiotics – we felt very worried for his health. However, we and the mamas took him to the hospital to be treated, and we are confident he will make a full recovery. We know he is in very caring and capable hands to monitor him as he recovers. We are also very grateful to The Small Things for allowing us to stay involved in his journey to recovery, and to continue to watch him grow and thrive.
We have so many wonderful memories and we are very motivated to go home and take action on some of these critical issues. We feel a strong responsibility to find a way to help. We have met so many wonderful and welcoming people on our trip. Even though they have their own struggles, and most have far less than anyone from our home country, Denmark, they are so happy and generous. We could and should learn from their example. We want to take their attitude and apply to our own lives, wherever we are. The kids will always be in our hearts – there is nothing like hearing them shouting your name in excitement when you enter a room!
While we are here, though, there are some projects that we and The Small Things would really like to take on, that we can’t currently afford. These will be continuing into the future, but here is a brief summary.
- English classes: The mamas have thrived in their English studies, and it has made a big difference in their ability to communicate with the volunteers. They have asked us to extend the courses for another three months. To pay for 14 mamas’ classes for three months, including all transportation, costs approximately $1,000 dollars.
- School uniforms: The kids have been out of their adorable school uniforms now for a while, because they have been worn to pieces. To purchase new material and sweaters, repair existing uniforms, and pay for tailoring, will cost approximately $500.
- Chickens, rabbits, garden: While Marie and her mom financed the building of a new (amazing!) chicken coop and food for six months, there is still some more work to do to make the entire area optimally productive. The new building requires new fencing, and the replanted garden needs fertilizer. Baba Nicky, our resident expert on agriculture and raising animals, also wants to create a small rabbit area and buy a few rabbits, which will, in time, be a great source of nutrition for the kids (and a lot of fun for them in the meantime). These projects together will cost approximately another $400.
- Micro Grants: as you know from our last post, the Micro Grants project is going incredibly well, but still needs support. Every dollar helps deserving families in the community to support themselves and become self-sufficient business people.
Please consider donating if any of these seem like worthwhile projects to you!