Guest post: Holly Wesselhöft

Our friend, Holly, is currently volunteering at The Girls Foundation in Arusha, teaching computer skills and presentation and speech skills to the girls there, in addition to guiding them through processes such as applying to university.  During a break from this fantastic work, she spent some time with us at Nkoaranga.  Here, she tells us a little about her experience!

Miriam playing with Holly’s hair whilst
Baracka sits on her lap

I recently spent a
week and a half volunteering at the Nkoaranga Orphanage
in northern Tanzania. I had visited the orphanage back in November for only a
few hours and the kids there completely blew me away. So I came into this
volunteer experience knowing the power these kids would have over me.
Miriam cuddling Baracka
 “I spent the week
helping out the Mamas and playing with the kids. For the first time in my
life, I changed diapers and fed babies with a bottle. I got to swing with the
kids and give lots of high fives each day. I was particularly proud of myself
when I was able to put one of the babies to sleep by singing the hokey pokey
song, 3 times in a row!


“I and the other
volunteers also had to handle so many of the kids crying, desperate to be
picked up and held. Picking up the children and holding them close would
immediately soothe them. But when I would try to put them down, the tears would
often start flowing again. I bet parents experience this a lot with their kids.
It was a first for me and I wasn’t sure of the best strategy. So, I would end
up spending very long periods of time just holding the kids (I put a limit of 3
kids to my lap at one time) and doling out forehead kisses. I think I enjoyed
all the affection just as much as they did though!

Holly with Ebeneezer snuggled against her
Frankie cuddled on Mama Faraja’s lap

“It really made me think a lot about how important volunteers are at this place. The Mamas (staff) are so busy with the day-to-day household duties of running a home for 30 or so little kids. Obviously cooking and cleaning are hugely important. But I really left with the impression that attention and affection are pretty much just as important. I am happy that this orphanage has a steady stream of volunteers ready to meet the kids’ needs. I feel especially lucky to have been a part of these kids’ lives and bring a little bit of love to their lives for the time I was there. They brought a lot of love to my life too.


Neema laughing with Mama Pendo
Holly on the swing with a delighted Neema
“Special thanks to
Emma, Megan and Bekka who I got to volunteer with and share a house with while
I was there. The dedication that these women have to the orphanage through the
non-profit The Small Things is what
maintains the orphanage and its staff so well. Because really, the small things
that all the volunteers do at the orphanage all add up to be a pretty big
thing, huge.”
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