THE EXPERIENCES OF EX-VOLUNTEERS…
I volunteered with TAFCOM in April 2009 for 6 weeks. During this time I spent much time meeting and talking with individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDs I spent time at the Children’s Centre and fell in love with the Children there. At the end of my six week volunteer placement, I organized and held a fundraiser in the Moshi community. Together with local business owners and artists, we raised over 900,000 TSH for the families supported by TAFCOM.
Tanzania and TAFCOM showed me what life is really about and I am so happy to share that with anyone who will listen. Tanzania and TAFCOM changed my life for the better. I first traveled to Tanzania in the summer of 2008. I was teaching at a local nursery school and a friend, who was volunteering with TAFCOM, invited me to come with her one day. I was excited to see another part of Moshi and by the end of the day we had completed 5 home visits, shed many tears, and I had adopted a family.
My love for the country and my little African family convinced me to return in the summer of 2010. I taught nursery school and spent most of my other time with my girls I had adopted, making home and hospital visits with Nie, helping organize and execute a fundraiser for TAFCOM, and becoming more and more attached to my “African Family”, Nie and Jonas, and the work TAFCOM was completing. After 9 weeks I had to return home and on my last tearful visit my family presented me with a Kanga but the greatest gift of all was when I heard the next 3 words. “Nakupenda Dada Megan”-I love you sister Megan.
I have never met more selfless people as Nie and Jonas who are willing to sell their only car to give a home to orphans, or share their lives and love with other families. TAFCOM doesn’t just support these families….they give these people a sense of purpose and self worth which allow so many families to become self sufficient.
In September 2009, I traveled to Moshi to volunteer with TAFCOM because I wanted the opportunity to serve the HIV/AIDS population. Nie and Jonas welcomed me with open arms and I immediately felt at ease in their company. The depth of my personal learning and growth went far beyond anything I ever expected. With each family I met and child I played with, my heart was filled with deeper gratitude and compassion. To participate in a different culture on this level is an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I have visited Moshi two more times since my first visit and I continue to support their efforts from home. I am currently working on a webstore in which I will sell the items made by TAFCOM’s tailoring group.
TAFCOM completely changed me. Nie and Jonas are the most amazing people with huge hearts, who truly want to make a change. I had always heard the stories about how people live in these unimaginable circumstances, but it never really hit home with me until I worked with TAFCOM. I felt like while working for this program I was actually making a change in these people’s lives. We organized a fundraiser while I was there. We sold skirts and purses that the women’s tailoring group made, drawings that the children’s school made, and vendors sold art and jewelery. We made house calls to the sick, bringing food, soap and anything else that they may need. I felt like this was the most rewarding part, seeing how grateful people are for the little things that I take for granted everyday. I went to TAFCOM school a few days. We brought sidewalk chalk and the kids went crazy over it. Working for TAFCOM was truly a life altering experience that I will value the rest of my life!
My experience at TAFCOM has been extremely revealing: I learned a lot about the workings of community-based NGOs, about the social and economic conditions of Tanzania and about the practicalities of urgent issues such as poverty and HIV/AIDS. The thing I appreciated most in working for TAFCOM is the freedom of choosing the project you are more interested in. My month at TAFCOM, for example, has been particularly intense: I collaborated to the organisation of a Fund-raiser event, I did research for my future academic career, I designed and collaborated with the tailoring center to the realisation of bags which I will be able to sell back home. Particularly touching and valuable is the experience of home visits through which you can get a glimpse of what the real problems of Tanzania are and of the strength and dignity of Tanzanian people in facing them.
Working with TAFCOM was a great opportunity for me to put my theoretical knowledge about development and related issues in perspective by being exposed to the reality. Being able to see the difficulties people in dire poverty face – for instance on home visits – with my own eyes was an invaluable experience.
Generally I worked on various different projects, the main one being researching and organising a fundraising project in my own country; I also enjoyed painting the TAFCOM centre and playing with the children.
Overall, it has been an enlightening experience to see the realities of NGOs and the challenges facing development workers and ‘developing countries’.