This blog is long overdue. I kept putting it off because it symbolically and realistically ended my time with the Teacher Training and Educational Project volunteer program that I participated in (June 2016 African Impact). Did I want it to end? No.
The power and joy of this experience was an eye opener due to challenges and at the same time it became a soothing balm to all of the chaos and confusion that is permeating the world these days.
The contributions made by the African Impact Team were quite extraordinary. First of all I admired the caliber of my fellow volunteers. Ambitious, bright, caring and enthusiastic, our little global community functioned well as a team with each person contributing their strengths and talents to the schools, medical clinics, and old age homes in Livingstone. Of course Jennifer, Arran and Sander set the tone. You could see immediately how much they loved contributing their energy to the communities in Livingstone.
My initial visit to the Maramba old age home found me drawing some pictures of birds using photos from nature books for models. I drew them for an elderly gentleman who enjoyed watching me begin each sketch with a series of lines until they linked together to form a finished rendering of a wild bird.
His smile as I handed him the drawing went straight to my core. As I left for the day, I watched as he proudly showed a few other people his drawing. Such a simple reaction left me with a feeling of fulfillment that I hadn't experienced in quite awhile.
From the very first day, working in the schools went beyond my expectations. Needless to say Kathy, Linda School principal, teachers Audrey, Sidney and the rest of the staff of dedicated teaching volunteers were a marvel. They elicited true concern and care for the education of their students on a level I had not seen before. Also, the children were not afraid to express respect for their teachers. I immediately felt honored and deeply moved to be shown such genuine emotion from a group of children whose existence is so vulnerable.
These first impressions were affirmed more and more each day. How fortunate after 29 years of teaching in NYC to have had the opportunity to teach in an environment whereby learning and the students welfare came first. I especially enjoyed teaching the Adult Literacy Classes as well.Talk about pure joy.
In spite of all the challenges and difficulties we currently face, the existence of African Impact and its far reaching activities creates a beacon of hope. The organization illuminates the fact that people care and are willing to utilize their skills and abilities towards helping those in need see the potential and value within themselves and within their own communities.
This was my third volunteer placement with African Impact and hopefully there will be a few more. Just the best!"