Two Kalms and a squirt of my rescue remedy mouth spray and I was ready to tackle the 3 planes from Manchester all the way to Kilimanjaro. The somewhat excessive use of over the counter anti-anxiety medication was not only because I am a terrible flyer but also to help me ease the stress of knowing when that plane landed in Kilimanjaro and my volunteering began, I would officially be a third-year adult nursing student.
One day in Tanzania and the country had already began to change us. The first day of volunteering came. The weather was 30 degrees. The bus ride to the hospital was 30 minutes and the 16-seater dala dala (minibus) was crammed with 30 people. Normally I would have moaned about being hot, squashed and travel sick but how can a person complain about things of such little importance when surrounded by people facing poverty every day?
We arrived at the hospital with smiles on our faces and arms full of medical supplies, eager to donate. Our time at the hospital was fantastic; healthcare is of course very different to what we see in England due to lack of funding. Regardless of this the nurses look after their patients with such a high level of care and compassion that I could barely contain my admiration. This experience was turning out to be more humbling each day.
After 2 weeks in Tanzania we learnt there was an orphanage that needed help with some painting and decorating. The orphanage had been founded by husband and wife Joe and Josephine. They were approached by government officials and asked to look after a baby boy who was left abandoned at a bus stop. They called this baby, Boy and agreed to look after him until his mother returned. When she didn’t Joe and Josephine adopted Boy, and this lead them opening an orphanage called Rafiki.
On our first visit to the orphanage we learnt that there were fourteen orphans living at Rafiki plus children that came for day-care. The age range of the children was from age 2 to age 7 and they were all taught in the same classroom. They couldn’t afford a refrigerator, so they kept food on the floor to keep it cool, and they all shared one toilet. The building was cement grey and unfinished, but the love and laughter of the children made it the brightest place on earth.
That night we decided to set up a go fund me page to help Rafiki. We decided the most important thing they needed was a refrigerator to keep their food from spoiling. We shared the page on our social medias, told our friends, family and peers at the university and within 2 days we had enough.
The donations continued to come in and over the next week we had raised over £1000. The Orphanage already had a fundraiser ongoing to build toilets, so we used the funds to build an extra room to use as an office and classroom space. This way separate lessons could be taught that would be more age appropriate. There was a room at the end of the building that was unfinished, so we used the donations to fit a window and door and a celling and floor. We used what was remaining to decorate the building with bright colours and characters to match the bright personalities of the children that had affected us so much.
If you look up Staffordshire university on the internet no doubt you will see the slogan Proud to be Staffs and if you look on the university’s website, you’re sure to see how the university prides itself for changing lives. The university doesn’t just change the lives of its students but it’s changing lives worldwide. After hearing about the work we did in Africa, the university have been very supportive helping us organise shoebox appeals and allowing us to hold bake-sales on campus so we can continue to support Rafiki. There is still much to be done at Rafiki so our fundraising is ongoing but with all the support we have had so far, I am sure we can help Rafiki achieve their dreams. Being a Staffordshire university student has changed my life and it has changed me into a much more confident, caring and passionate version of myself.
I for one am proud to be Staffs.
Link to our go fund me page.
We are now hoping to raise a further £4000 to build more classrooms. By doing this Rafiki can register as an education facility and any money they make from tuition fees will allow for free education for the orphans at Rafiki.