Alumni Spotlight: Raymond Muwaniri


Raymond Muwaniri is originally from Mutare, Zimbabwe but has been living in Ireland for the past 12 years. He volunteered at Havilla Children´s Center from Aug. 20th-Oct. 21st, 2012 and has a BA in Sustainable Development and MA in International Politics. He is now 33 and currently a Programme Officer at Silveira House, an NGO in Harare. He enjoys the simple things in life like cow herding at his grandmother's, interacting with village locals, and local beers. In today's global world, Raymond refers to himself as an "Afro European."

Why did you decide to volunteer with Agape Adventures in Kenya?

I wanted to go alone and not with a team like they do with other NGO´s. Agape have an interesting package and after speaking with Rachel Murphy I was convinced.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

I volunteered at a Preschool that was only 10 minutes up the road from where I was living. The school had 70 children in 4 classes, 2 baby classes, 1 middle class and 1 pre-unit class. Each day I would arrive at the school and help out where I felt I was needed most. The work ranged from teaching the classes and helping with the preparation of food for the children to playing games. I also helped the teachers further their computer literacy skills.

What made this experience unique and special?

It was made unique and special because of the fact that it was at a preschool. Children are innocent, playful and have no malice, working with them was bundles of joy. They put a smile on my face every time I walked into the school. The ages of the children ranged from 2 to 7 years old, so you can imagine the different characters I came across and the amount of fun that I had with carefree kids.

I was the first ever black volunteer they had at the school, and being of African origin, relating to them was not difficult at all. The toddlers could not speak much English but spoke Swahili. My own mother tongue Shona from Zimbabwe is similar to Swahili, so the funny thing was I always knew when they were talking about me.

How has this experience impacted your future?

Volunteering at Havilla Children´s Centre will go down as one of the best highlights of my life. It opened my eyes to the fact that though people may be poor and living in undesirable conditions they still Live and Love Life. Children bring joy to one´s heart, I definitely appreciate life more. When I was teaching the children, I found some of them to be very intelligent. If that intelligence was nurtured through the correct channels in a constructive environment then those kids could grow up to be whatever they wanted to be.

I asked some children what they wanted to be when they grew up, and most said, “I want to drive an Eloplane.” Given the opportunity, I know some of them can make it depending on if they do not fall prey to slum life. After my experience I have decided to work in developing countries, to raise awareness of development issues, and to help children and other disadvantaged people especially in the slums and rural areas. I am currently volunteering at Silveira House, an NGO in Harare, Zimbabwe doing rural development.