Board Bio: Bethan Crisp

My name is Bethan Crisp. I am 21 years old and I am
currently studying Anthropology at Brunel University in West London.

In the Amazon!
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to pursue
my studies and career in Law. That was until I began planning some time out of
studying in order to travel to Tanzania. Suddenly, my
head was filled with adventure, spontaneity, getting ‘out there’ and
experiencing the world, (as cliché as that may sound!)

I visited a few universities  and it was during one visit that the
realization fell upon me that spending the next, however many years in a dull,
brown bricked classroom, (which is how this one particular Law department looked!) was just not for the person I was becoming.

I changed my course and I could not be happier with my decision. I have
been on an inspiring placement to Ecuador where I lived in an indigenous Quichua
community in the Amazon for 6 months and the confidence it has given me is
brilliant and extremely encouraging.
  



Anyway, how did I get to Tanzania? I originally went to Tanzania through the
organization “Oyster Worldwide” in September 2010 as part of my gap year between college and
university. I taught English at a primary school to a class of 70 students for
6 months, until meeting some amazing volunteers in Nkoaranga, also there
through Oyster, who took me on a visit to the Orphanage. I fell in love with
the children and from that moment, I just knew it would be impossible for me to
keep away.

Big Franky with Pray and Fillipo during music class

Such happy faces make working for The Small Things and being a volunteer at Nkoaranga so rewarding!
I was nervous at first to meet the children. Before
Tanzania, I had never really been a ‘children person’ or very natural with
babies. The children at Nkoaranga completely changed me. They were so welcoming
and full of love that I had no time to be shy. They were just such brilliant characters
and made an immediate impression and I suddenly felt like I had come to the place
that I was destined to go to since arriving in Tanzania. Something had always
been missing and until I met these children at Nkoaranga, I didn’t know what
that missing thing was.

This year whilst I was back in Nkoaranga, I saw the arrival of baby Hope. It is a very bitter sweet situation to witness the arrival of a new resident of Nkoaranga Orphanage; to be able to hold and interact with such an amazing form of life but to have to wonder about the tragic circumstances that have brought him or her to us. It was fascinating looking at such a small bundle of ‘Hope’ in her blankets with her eyes closed and thinking about her future. It was very emotional for me as I stood in the baby room looking over at all of the small, sleeping little people. I can only be glad that they are in a safe place surrounded by love and people who will be there for them for years to come.

Baby Hope in her bundle of blankets, the first day I met her. 

I didn’t expect to become so involved
and connected to the orphanage. I think that may have been due to every time in
England if I was given a baby to hold, he or she would immediately cry their
eyes out! Here, at Nkoaranga, a baby would stop crying and feel content if put
into my arms. I felt needed. I felt infinitely responsible to care for them and
ensure I could be a part of their lives and a part of giving them a future they
deserve; a future that any child deserves.


This is why I now work for The Small Things. It gives me the opportunity to do
just that – have the ability to contribute to the livelihoods of these
beautiful individuals from England when I can’t physically be there with them.
I was first in Tanzania for 10 months and I returned for the Christmas and New
Year of 2011. This year, after 18 months, I made my third return and saw such a
wonderful difference. Such big, gorgeous, healthy children! I had the
opportunity to visit the older school children at USA River Academy who had
been at the orphanage on my previous visits. How amazing to see them as such
flourishing individuals, learning, happy, running around on the grass together
and absorbing life.


Visiting the older children at USA River Academy this year. I first met them in 2011 in Nkoaranga Orphanage. It is so great to be able to see such wonderful, physical changes and pure proof of development.





Life at Nkoaranga Orphanage is tough, to say the least. The mamas and, not forgetting, big Franky, do outstanding work. I’m sure many parents would say that looking after one or two children is hard enough. But imagine two mamas a day with over 20 babies, toddlers and young children craving their attention, not enough toys to go around, or not enough of the same toys to prevent any arguments! Sounds challenging, right? 



Loveness taking care of Isaac. The older children can be so helpful when there aren’t enough hands to feed a hungry mouth or to sooth a crying baby.

I grew very fond of big Ebenezer. It seems so ironic for him to now be named ‘big’ Ebenezer (now that we have another little Ebenezer in the orphanage too,) considering
he was so tiny and so sick when I first held him back in 2011. I feared for his
life. So to see him again this year was indescribable. He is such a funny boy
who absolutely loves a cuddle and
although he seems relatively sweet and innocent, he definitely has his cheeky
moments! He certainly knows how to win your heart, even after you send him to
bed and wait for an apology after he has misbehaved, he quickly makes it up to
you with a kiss on the cheek!

A tiny, premature baby, Ebenezer,  who became so sick that it was touch and go as to whether he could pull through. 

….But he did! And he is such a fun, lovable, beautiful and, most importantly, healthy little boy today! 

I love a good challenge and what
better motivation to complete one, than to do it for the kids? Upon return from
Tanzania my first time, I conducted ‘Project Maji’ which
raised over $1,000 for water filtration systems for the
orphanage and hospital. 
Then, I went a step up and in December 2011, planned for myself and 4 other
previous Nkoaranga volunteers to jump out of a plane and skydive! I still to
this day have no idea how I managed that. I not only have a fear of planes, but
also of heights! So if THAT wasn’t a challenge, I don’t know what is!
This April, I also took part and completed a sponsored half marathon in aid of
The Small Things. I’m not a huge fan of running, especially a run that goes on for
more than 2 hours! But I did it and I would do it all over again for the
children.
I am of course now thinking and planning my next challenge; something bigger
and better. Ideas are on the cards so you will have to keep a look out to see
what I plan to get myself into next time!

Success of Project Maji! Stevie, Andrea and David drinking safe, clean water.



High up in the air! A terrifyingly amazing experience.





At the finish line! My first half marathon which I plan to do again next year and beat my time.

  


There are too many amazing memories of
the children and Nkoaranga Orphanage for me to go into here. This is why I
would tell you to go to Nkoaranga and experience it for yourself and to make
your own memories!
 
I am very grateful to be a part of The Small Things because it allows me to play a part in the continuing development of the present and the future of these children. I am a member of the communications, fundraising and volunteers committees and I love being able to assist and help prepare new volunteers who are set to travel out to Tanzania. I am thankful to have met such devoted people and to work as part of a team where our strength grows immensely due to the support of all of you who take the time to read our blogs, keep updated on the children, provide feedback and donate to our projects.

Thank you everyone for your support and encouragement to The Small Things but also to the steps of my past that led me to where I am today.