Written by: African Impact
In the shadow of the mighty Victoria Falls, those who volunteer in Zimbabwe work tirelessly to improve the lives of at-risk community members in the rural areas around the small towns. Between supporting the elderly at the Old People’s Home and enriching the educations of learners at rural schools, community volunteers make meaningful change everywhere they go! But don’t take our word for it – hear from volunteers Samantha and Mikayla.
“From the very first time I was in the presence of the pure-hearted ladies who take care of the [Old People’s Home], to the elderly who reside in the home, to the environment itself, I knew this specific aspect of the community project was something special.
Upon arrival the other volunteers and myself were welcomed with open arms and the warmest of hearts. We visited and spent time in the company of some extraordinary individuals, listening to stories and doing small little tasks to aid in the day to day life of these people. The team worked vigorously in the garden where our help and strength was much needed, shoveling, digging and watering, you name it. It felt good to do hard work and see progress in our garden beds as the days passed by.
My personal favorite task of the morning is preparing jam sandwiches and tea for each person. I really enjoy serving people and doing whatever possible thing to make the people there feel good.The only reason I struggled in the beginning at this project in particular was because out of all the projects in the community, this one was by far the most hard hitting with my perspective on reality. Within the first five minutes I started to comprehend the truly important things in life.
Three things specifically I have learned from working at the Old People’s Home are some things I will take home with me and never forget. First, is how important family is. A lot of the elderly have no idea where their family is and most likely will never be able to get in contact with them. Second, is that where I come from, we are so truly blessed and fortunate to have all the resources and financial assistance for the old and sick that we do. Never take good health and help for granted. Lastly, the company of others is more valuable than anything else.
My last visit to the home was the most meaningful to me by far. This was when I realized how content one can be simply sitting next to a 101 year old woman who doesn’t nearly speak your language, just spinning twine. Amazing experience is an understatement. African Impact has allowed me to have the opportunity to make a difference in some people’s lives, but overall these people have changed my whole perspective on life.”
– Mikayla Candido (Canada)
“No words will ever be able to capture the feelings that are brought out by these incredible children. Despite many differences and barriers such as language, it is possible to love a child even if you can’t pronounce their name.
My first experience with the orphanage was on my day of arrival. We parked outside this squat brick structure and children lined the front awaiting our arrival. As I stepped out if the car this young girl ran and jumped into my arms. What did I do to warrant such genuine affection? It was incredible. The children were so loving, accepting and kind. It is an honour for someone to value my time as much as these children did. And it was a privilege for myself to be in their presence.
Within two hours of playing hopscotch, reading and simply pointing to animals in a book, these children had taught me more valuable lessons than I had learned in twelve years of schooling. I realised that education is universal. Education is important. Education is the foundation of life. Whether it be a skill or a fact, any form of education is essential.
I felt guilt. Guilt for my reluctance to attend school and my oblivion to the extraordinary opportunity I had been handed to me on a silver spoon. These children were like sponges, and soaked up every word that leaked from my mouth. They were so affectionate, kind and genuine, which is sometimes hard to come across in Australian culture. whether it be a conversation about maths or animals or nothing particularly exciting- most importantly- they cared. I learnt so much in one day, and even more the next.
Firstly, education as a universal, opportunity – unfortunately – is not. Secondly, it doesn’t matter your background, language or ethnicity because once those barriers are broken down you realise on a basic level how important attachment, affection and attention are to humanity. And finally I realised the beauty of love and appreciation of another’s company.
It was both an honour and a privilege to be in the presence of these beautiful people, they each have such promise and potential, it’s inspiring. I want to help these children, help them become all the things they could be. And help them have the education that they deserve. I hope that I will leave here, taking with me a changed perspective, a less selfish approach and an appreciation for the beauty of humanity.”
– Samatha Davidson (Australia)