It has been a month now since I was standing on the roof of Africa. Since then I have been lucky enough to go on safari and experience all of the animals I dreamed off since I was a little kid, as well as relax on the picturesque white sand beaches along the secluded east coast. But it is my latest challenge of Volunteering which is currently the food for my soul.
Neema’s aim is to transform the lives of people with disabilities in Tanzania, through handicrafts training and employment opportunities. Today the centre employs over 100 deaf and physically disabled workers, who have been trained in a wide variety of different crafts and skills. The running costs have been covered entirely by revenue from sales of the goods sold and small donations from visitors and supporters. All revenue goes straight back to the needy through a variety of program’s including a physiotherapy centre for local disabled children, business training and English classes for staff, and also help cover large medical bills and prosthetics. The generous donations I have received from people will be distributed over these programs. Neema is managed by Ben and Katy Ray who are missionaries from the U.K. and are supported by the Church Mission Society. Their backgrounds in design and crafts have seen the centre grow stronger with new techniques and the implementation of the carpentry program. I have been helping with maintenance around the centre as well as building new storage areas to create more space for further expansion and employment.
The other organisation FISCH (future for Iringa street children) provides food, education, physical activity, counselling, shelter, school uniforms, stationary and a refuge for the local street children. A staggering 24% of children aged 0-18 are either orphans or vulnerable, so FISCH’s mission is for the street children to become self-sufficient, balanced, well rounded and valuable members of the community. FISCH’s hope is that with their actions and presence in the community, it will prevent children turning to the street in the first place.
I have been helping with maintenance, teaching at the secondary school home work centre, and running sport activities on Saturdays. The much appreciated donations I received will help sponsor street kids so they will be able to attend school and have also brought fire extinguishers for the centre. A special mention must go to Edgewater College and Hillary house, who’s staff and students raised $300 for FISCH.
I have always enjoyed working with the disadvantaged and at risk youth in New Zealand, so this has been an amazing opportunity to experience a similar demographic of youth in a completely different culture. Even though many of the kids here have been through horrific circumstances they have almost all been polite and seemingly happy, with Neema’s staff also being no exception to this. It has been hard to engage in deeper relationships due to the language barrier but all of them are extremely appreciative of any help and more importantly time they receive. Sometimes I feel the youth back home can take experiences and opportunities for granted and being polite is far from a priority. But overall I love being a teacher in South Auckland and the relationships I form with my students is the main reason why I am in this profession. John F. Kennedy said that “children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.”
If you are wanting to donate to either of these organisations then please follow the highlighted words above as a link. The websites will direct your next step. It is very special to see first hand where the money goes and the impact it has.