Read the first-hand account of Marissa, who has just returned from volunteering over Christmas at our projects in Livingstone, Zambia. She reflects on her favourite moments and gives advice for future volunteers just like her.
Just two weeks later and Africa is already behind me. My time there went by so quickly, but the memories will stick with me forever. I will never forget the way the kids’ faces would light up when given a ball to play with or the first time that I saw Maureen smile.
Every little thing just further confirmed that I made the right choice by volunteering. By far, my favorite part of every day was seeing the kids sing the “Mzungu bus” song. Mzungu is a term used for white people, and the kids would sing this song whenever they saw the “bus” pulling up and beeping the horn.
These kids all have no choice but to grow up quickly and take on so many adult responsibilities. Holiday Club, run by the African Impact volunteers during school breaks, lets the kids actually be kids for a few hours every day, and having the opportunity to be a part of that is beyond words.
And then there are the other volunteers. Although we were only together for a short period of time, I feel like it was much longer. I have been blessed to meet so many lifelong friends from all over the world that I truly hope I will run into again at a later time in my life.
African time will forever make everything in the US seem speedy quick. Waiting in line for half an hour to get money exchanged quickly lets you experience the meaning of TIA (This is Africa). The phrase is used often across Africa, and is meant to help you adjust to new situations and experiences where things do not always work out the way you intended. Every day things and places do not operate the way some foreigners might expect them to, and the concept of time is a whole new experience out there. 15 minutes can mean 1 or 2 hours. Two days in African time may actually mean 4 days, realistically.
Working with African Impact has been a fantastic experience that I wouldn’t take back for the world. The staff was amazing to work with – everyone was extremely welcoming, helpful, and passionate about their work. I hope that I have to chance to return to Africa again and I will always remember the community and the wonderful people I met along my journey.
Marissa Sutera is an American marketing graduate currently pursuing her MBA at Eastern Illinois University. She’s passionate about exercise, running, pasta, the colour purple and most of all, traveling! You can read all about Marissa, her travels and her volunteer time with African Impact on her personal blog.
You too can volunteer on our Livingstone projects – there are many to choose from! Volunteers have the opportunity to volunteer on sports development projects, in the healthcare sector, by teaching students in local schools and even on our hands-on lion rehabilitation project.