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Karin Ernst 23 ans Italian Care Project
Arrivata a Lomé sono stata sopraffatta dai rumori, dagli odori e dai colori di questa caotica città ma, armata di sorriso e tanta curiosità mi ci sono immersa completamente.
Per strada le persone hanno voglia di conoscerti, vogliono condividere qualcosa con te o spesso semplicemente parlare. Capisco così che é meglio cominciare a mettere da parte quel mio lato tanto riservato che normalmente adotto nella cara e timida Svizzera e fare spazio alla vitalità e voglia di socializzare. Posso dire che non avrei potuto trovare miglior terapia d'urto se non quella di ritrovarmi nel cortile dell'orfanotrofio Remar.
Ricordo il primo giorno che misi piede nel posto che sarebbe presto diventato la mia seconda casa qui a Lomé. Mi sembrava di vivere una scena da film... una trentina di bambini e ragazzi che mi correvano incontro e volevano abbracciarmi e stringermi la mano. Semplicemente un'emozione indescrivibile. Cosa avrei potuto desiderare di più? Pensavo niente, ma sono stati gli stessi bambini ad avermi dato quel qualcosa di più dandomi la stessa energica e calorosa accoglienza giorno dopo giorno. Non si tratta di abbracci di convenienza, non si tratta solo di curiosità passeggera, quei sorrisi che ogni giorno mi scaldano il cuore sono naturali, autentici e semplicemente bellissimi.
Inge Holtman (25) was inspired to work with people who have special needs by her older sister who has down syndrome. “She is great and always positive,” says Inge. “Because of her I look otherwise to the world and my clients.”
Inge pursued studies with concentrations in special education, psychiatry and addiction. Since 2004, she has worked with people with a mental handicap on different levels or with problem behavior and/or psychiatric problems. As a Team Leader at S Heeren Loo Midden Nederland, she divides her time between working with her clients and time in the office.
Despite having a wealth of experience, Inge was curious about how developing countries managed care for people with disabilities.
“I wanted to see how healthcare is done in Africa. I really wanted to work with handicap people and share my knowledge and experience with the local staff. I also wanted to develop myself and share it with my colleagues at home. I am the type of person that always wants to learn something new and challenge myself and working in healthcare is my passion. I love it with all my heart.”
Inge signed up with a six week care placement with Projects Abroad, a global volunteering organization with projects all over the world. She was assigned to a special needs school in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
“Projects Abroad makes a big difference at the school because the children have low education. The school needs volunteers to give the children the attention they need and teach them new things.”
Inge spent five days a week at the school assisting the teachers and often leading classroom lessons in basic math, English language and games.
“You can get as much out of it as you want because when you do nothing, they do ...
Nineteen year old Iris Van Loo wasn’t sure what she wanted to study after graduating from Het Stedelijk Lyceum, so she decided to use her gap year to volunteer abroad in Tanzania.
In January, she arrived in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and was placed at a special needs school by Projects Abroad.
From day one, Iris realized that there was a big difference between life in The Netherlands and the culture in Tanzania. “The school is completely different from the schools in my country. The way of teaching, the relationships with the children, the motivation of the teachers and the equipment and resources available to the schools are all very different.”
A typical day for the students and the volunteers included a few hours in the classroom followed by recreational play. “We get a lot of responsibility. We play games with the kids and teach them basic skills such as the alphabet, counting, mathematics and improving their English language skills. We also take care of the smaller ones and help them go to the toilet and make sure they stay in the classroom and don’t walk outside.”
In addition to teaching, Iris says the most important thing she and the other volunteers gave to the students was a lot of love. She believes she gained a great deal within her three month experience.
“I learned a lot during my volunteer work. For example I learned how to gain trust from children and the teachers and how to work with people who have a totally different culture. I also learned to be more patient and how to work with disabled people. Some of the students did not speak English or had speech handicaps but I adapted by learning how to communicate nonverbally.”
Iris joined efforts with a Norwegian volunteer to raise money to improve the school. ...
I arrived at Lome airport in the early hours of the morning. The first thing to hit me was the heat! Even at 3.30am it was around 27 degrees centigrade. I was driven by two very friendly Projects Abroad reps to my home for the next two months with Mama Togo. I had a welcome drink of water and went to bed for a couple of hours.
I was woken by an unholy amount of noise at about 6am: Togo gets up much earlier than England! I had my first bucket shower this morning, which was lovely: the cold water was very welcome!
Today Delphine from Projects Abroad is showing me the town, helping me to change my money and showing how to get to and from my placement. The main method of transport is motorbike taxis.
I am missing home very much.
Cherie Smirl, a retired food industry professional from the Victoria province in Australia arrived in Arusha, Tanzania in early February. She had arranged to spend one month volunteering at a local orphanage as part of her care placement with Projects Abroad.
Cherie lived with other Projects Abroad volunteers in a house located next to the orphanage which enabled her to fully immerse herself in the culture and develop relationships with the children.
“The children at Tumaini for Africa are incredibly well cared for and guided in life skills. The kindergarten school offers good academic basics and the children are happy and loved. Volunteers have the ability to bring a variety of ideas, stimulation and a greater level of interest to the daily lives of the children while supporting the teachers and Mamas of Tumaini. The children respond positively to this interaction which in turn fosters and develops security and reassurance.”
A typical day started at 8:30am to 11am in one of the two classes at the school. In the baby room, Cherie and other volunteers initiated fun learning projects such as playing outdoor musical games, reading, and using primary coloured playdough to create “My Face” models with google eyes, pom pom noses, mouths, teeth, and long tongues. In addition, she utilized her background in agriculture to teach the children how to sprout seeds in mini-gardens. In the older class, Cherie assisted with preparing and correcting homework assignments.
“Volunteers from Projects Abroad fill Tumaini with inspiration and new life. Through this experience I have no doubts, volunteering can bring about change, albeit slow and filled with uncertainty, I am challenged to find positive outcomes and know these challenges will take me back to ...