Can't Get Enough
"Why I Continue to Return to help2kids Tanzania"
A guest blog by Nanette
Back in October 2013 I started for the first time to volunteer at help2kids in Dar Es Salaam. Having a full time job back in Germany at the time, I was only able to take off a short period of 4 weeks. Four weeks now seems like a short time, but it had been just enough time to get attached – attached to the 31 wonderful children living at the Children’s Home as well as the roughly 300 Children at the Bajeviro Primary School!
I got attached because it was incredible to see how much all the children appreciated spending time with the volunteers, reading, playing, or doing their homework. I have been to Dar four times. Returning to the school and the Children's Home as "Teacher Nanetti" as they used to call me and surprisingly still remember!
But let me go back to the beginning of 2013. My first two weeks were spent getting used to the volunteer program as well as the children. I had to get comfortable with teaching and tutoring, waking up early and being prepared for a full day of children asking me questions and wanting to play. However, my biggest challenge came in accepting and understanding certain conditions the local children at the Bajeviro Primary School lived through at home, when the help2kids’ school ended and each of them left the project to return back to their families.
During my first four weeks, other volunteers and myself organized an “International Day of the Girl”, where we discussed the rights of girls within the family as well as society as a whole. We tried to stress that neglect and abuse were unacceptable behaviors for treatment towards women.
At one point we went around and asked the children what they wished for inside their homes, the answers we received were shocking. Many of the children answered with the simplest items, such as school books, a bed, clothes, and even ‘something to eat’. Afterwards, I was even more uncomfortably forced to compare that with the opulence of the world I come from.
Returning back to Germany I could not get the circumstances out of my head. How privileged had I been by simply been lucky enough to be born into a first world nation? It was clear that these children were the least to blame for their circumstance and I was wanted to do something about it. I ended up with the conclusion that I cannot only donate money but also have to support the projects in the long-run. Especially because the kids are not to be blamed for the situation they are in!
Something that solidified my motivation for my repeated returns and help, was my wonderful conversation with Neema from the Children’s Home during my first visit. When I had to tell the children that I had to return home and go back to my own country, Neema asked simply, “And when are you coming back?”
I was surprised. She hadn’t asked if I will come back, but simply when I will return, as if I was expected to. As if these children had gotten just as attached to me as I had gotten to them.
I responded with truth: “I’m not sure if I can come back at all.” Neema’s response was: “But, why?”
Despite the fact that Neema was only eight. I have to say it was a very good question. What reason did I really have to not come back again?
I never did find a good enough reason to stay away and every time I’ve returned, I’ve brought donated clothes and reading and school materials, making sure my luggage was at the maximum weight capacity each time!
Currently, as I write this, I am back at the help2kids project sites in Tanzania, enjoying my time once again tutoring English, singing the Alphabet, adding and subtracting with bottle caps, and playing games. It is amazing how thankful the children are and how much joy you bring not only them, but yourself when you succeed in making them smile or by seeing them light up when they finally understand how to correctly use a possessive pronoun. These things will probably continue to call me back to Tanzania.
Thank you to Nanette for taking the time to write about her experiences with help2kids! We appreciate all that she has done for the children and the organization as a whole. We are thrilled to have her back and are always excited to see the friendly faces of returning volunteers.
If you are interested in following in Nanette's footsteps, check out our Volunteer Page for more information on how you can get involved with help2kids. We can't wait to see you here with us in Tanzania or Malawi!