Arja Schedwin berättar!

14 March 2014

Reflections from the orphanage in Moshi during January-February 2012 where I spent four fantastically pleasant weeks with the children at KITAA! below follows a small description of my stay there.

I certainly wondered a little what I had gotten myself into when I landed at Kilimanjaro International Airport on January 15, 2012 in 35 degree heat. But once at the orphanage, I first met mama Ester, house Miriam and everyone Nickson, we had a nice chat and briefing for a few hours. They told me about the children and daily routines etc. I was received very kindly and immediately felt at home. That feeling lasted throughout my stay, I had a great time.

After an hour or so, the children came home from school and they were of course curious about the new volunteer, some a little hesitant, but most of the children were smiling and welcoming. I was immediately christened Sister Arja, cute I think.

It took a couple of days before I learned all the children’s names, then I tried to learn some Swahili, Jambo but mostly I tried to get the children to speak English with me. I think most people know many more English words than they give the impression.

The younger children went to school for half the day, alternately in the morning and in the afternoon. I got the most time to hang out with the youngest. We did puzzles, played memory games, drew, etc. I accompanied the little children to school, on the way you could see Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, a very pleasant view.

At three or four o’clock all the children come home from school, take off their school clothes and put on their home clothes. Time for everyone to wash their socks that were white on the way to school. The black school shoes must be polished so they are nice for the next morning. A nice social time with chores in the yard outside the children’s house follows. There was also a bit of mischief with the water.

The children are spontaneous, positive, curious, they sing and dance very well, thanks a lot to Nickson who teaches and leads them. A couple of afternoons a week, a new song and dance is practiced for the coming Sunday, a tradition for the children to sing and dance in church. It was fun to follow the exercises, very entertaining! And very nice to see this live in the church.

During the time I was in Moshi the mangoes ripened, in mama Ester’s backyard there was a big mango tree. There was a feverish activity in the afternoons, there could be five children in the tree at the same time, harvesting mangoes. Then we had fruit time on Mama’s stairs, good and very cozy. In the afternoons there was also time for games and play, the badminton rackets that I brought were very popular.

Previous volunteers have instituted the tradition of pool visits at one of the hotels in Moshi together with the children, so we also did this together. They just love splashing and swimming and could go on for hours, some of the bigger kids were really good at swimming. The lunch by the pool was also much appreciated, then it was time to swim again. A real highlight day everyone thought.

Another much appreciated feature of my stay was when we all went to a restaurant for a farewell dinner. Everyone got chicken, fries and a soft drink each, the children thought it was a real feast, chicken, chicken, good, good!

During a period, construction of a new house has been underway for the children, Ester and the others who take care of the children. There is also a small house for future volunteers. When, after a three-day safari, I came back to say goodbye to the children, the move had already taken place to the new place. The house building is financed by an English church and everyone seemed very happy with a house of their own and enjoyed themselves well. But it was sad, sad to say goodbye to this wonderful group of children. I really want to go back and hope it will be like that, you want to follow the children in the future.

I’ll just say one thing, if you guys are thinking about doing a volunteer trip, do it! Incredibly enriching, so many good memories, it warms my heart when I look at the photos of the children and feel lucky to be able to do this trip.

Arja Schedwin, Gothenburg March 2012.

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