After two days of non-stop travel, 5 hour layovers, and airplane food you have never seen in your life, it sure was an amazing feeling when our plane flew directly next to Mt. Kilimanjaro. The snow capped, unreal, majestic-looking mountain was breath taking. These past five days have been filled with endless amounts of joy and laughter. It’s refreshing to be around people that don’t have many materialistic items, but they sure do have an abundant amount of joy.
From touring the town of Arusha with the infamous Rasta John, walking though the very busy and crowded food market, touring a museum with the most beautiful art I have ever seen, and experiencing my first Dala Dala (which is a 10 person van that crams 20 people in it with full bodies hanging out the window), it is safe to say it was a day filled with memories that will last a lifetime.
Our first volunteer opportunity was at Cradle of Love… which is now hands down my favorite place on earth. Cradle of Love is an orphanage for infants and toddlers that have been neglected, abandoned in corn fields, or are unable to be taken care of by their parents. My heart instantly melted when I first saw the babies. We arrived when they were waking up from their naps; they filed out of their rooms holding their arms up being attracted to us like magnets. All they wanted was some love and attention, and believe me… that is just what they got. The smiles and giggles at every silly face you make and tickle you gave filled my whole body with warmth and joy.
Monday was our first day we worked at LOAMO: the school we will be at for the remainder of our trip. Immediately walking into the school, smiles, giggles and whispers were peeking out of doorways. Finally all at once everyone came running to us and clung onto us like their life depended on it. They were in awe about my hair. The whole day the girls and boys would play with it and touch it. If a piece of hair would fall out they would all fight over who got to keep it. This continues to show me that one doesn’t need to have a new car, or a shopping spree to make them happy.
The youngest class at LOAMO is baby class with kids ranging from 3-5, next in Kindergarten, then Pre Prep, and then classes 1-6. I have been working with class six for the past two days and will continue to for the next week. It is very easy to communicate with the children there because they have all of their classes in English so they can understand you perfectly. I have been able to grow so close to these kids and I know they will always have a special place in my heart. Each day I find a new note written in my notebook from the 6th graders telling me how much they love me.
Getting up in front of the classroom and teaching about past participle verbs, malnutrition, and geography about Africa can be very intimidating at times, however, there is no judgment with these kids. This experience has already started to shape me to be a better person and change my outlook on life. One doesn’t need to have materialistic items to be happy. A simple piece of hair can make their world.