Alumni Spotlight: Eenee Ferrano


Why did you decide to volunteer with MAD in Tanzania?

I wanted to make a mission trip and combine it with a destination that was on my ‘Bucket List’…Africa and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. I learned about Make a Difference – Africa from a friend who volunteered with MAD the previous summer. She spoke so highly about MAD and Director Theresa Grant, that I decided to check it out. Web information and personal correspondence with Theresa determined that this was the program for me. I designated 6 weeks for the trip.

The first week was the trek and climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro. During the following 5 weeks, I also took a 5-day safari to the Serengeti region. MAD encourages safaris and tours in the area and works with local adventure companies for good prices. The day to day volunteer work with MAD was hands-on and very fulfilling.

I am a 56 yr old, mother of three college-age boys. They were all away at school for the 6 weeks of winter when I traveled to Africa. I decided to go at that time in my life because I was finished with ’mothering my sons’ and wanted to venture out and do something that I longed to do. It’s a GREAT time of life to go on a mission-vacation. I had climbed and hiked mountains all over the world and wanted to climb Kilimanjaro. I hiked to the summit in 7 days with a trekking group of 4 people. It was a life-time goal, and I was thrilled to accomplish it.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

I lived with and shadowed the Director of MAD, Theresa Grant, everywhere. I came in the middle of winter when there are no other volunteers so I was fortunate to stay with Theresa. During summer months the volunteers stay together in a local guest house.

A typical day would be breakfast (usually granola and fruit) and we would drive around town on errands that supported the orphanage children. We would pack lunch and water with us for the day. The children were in a local private school. We would arrive at school around 1:00 pm and work with the students in the new computer lab until 4:00. MAD had recently donated computers and built a computer lab for the entire school to use.

I would have a 30 min. Swahili lesson every day from one of the teachers. I loved learning Swahili. After 4:00 pm we would follow the 22 (MAD orphan) children home to their house and be available to them for a variety of tasks from helping with homework, to playing games, to singing, making jewelry (their profit program) to just sitting and holding a hand. We would leave the house just as the children would be served dinner. We went home to our guest house for dinner. Theresa has a cook and housekeeper who helps with meals and laundry for the volunteers.

On weekends or holidays, we did special trips with the children to local parks, hiking, athletic events, or clinic visits.

Theresa would also arrange for visits with local agencies for the volunteers to learn about AIDS, Malaria, hospital work, infant orphanages and visits to other NGO work sites. She has numerous contacts in the area and they always enjoy an extra person around to help for a day’s visit. Whatever a volunteer expresses an interest in, Theresa will connect you with local people in that field.

What made this volunteer experience unique and special?

What makes MAD special is the personal hands-on work with the children and the compassionate touch of Theresa Grant. As a volunteer you have time to discover the local culture, learn Swahili, take a few local adventure tours and interact closely with Tanzanian children. You truly get a sense that you are ‘making a difference’ in their lives. It is immersion in the local culture. Theresa has been living there for 10 years and knows the area and people well.

How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?

I speak often of the wonderful experience in Tanzania and have influenced several friends to venture to Africa with MAD. Personally, I am more in touch with the plight of the African orphan, malaria, AIDS in Africa, and other NGO projects. I work locally marketing MAD to college students to influence them to volunteer with MAD. I feel so strongly about this great program that I want others to experience it too.

And never forget that MAD operates in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro and you can arrange a climb while you are there and stand at the Top of Africa!