"As my time comes to an end here in Morogoro, I am saddened to say goodbye but proud to see the change we have made in the lives of the people we have worked with. As my first development project, this experience helped me dispel myths and stereotypes about international development and Africa. Although this experience has shown me I am maybe not ready for a career in international development, it has also reignited a spark and a drive to follow my true passion of advocacy. Whether that will be advocating for children, women, people living with special needs, visible minorities, LGBT individuals, or any other person or group in need, I know that I will continue to support others in a capacity to help them see the best in themselves and life. Every day is a gift.
My experience here with YCI in Tanzania has been invaluable. To put into words how this experience has and will continue to affect my life and decisions is a very hard thing to do. I started this blog with a famous quote by Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” and now I understand the quote in a whole new meaning.
The people I have met along this part of my journey will forever have an impact on my life as I will continue to reflect on my time here in Morogoro. I have had the privilege of working with some amazing youth during my time here, who want nothing more than to better themselves, their communities, and their country. From the lessons in selflessness of Frankie to the motivational drive for change of my girls’ club in Chamwino, I hope to bring my new found respect and love for life home to Canada and to share it with all of you.
I want to say thank-you to all of you who helped me get here, those who supported me while I was here, and to those of you who will take this opportunity to examine your own life and maybe reflect on just how much we have, and how very little we need. As I say my goodbyes to underprivileged children and youth and I see how happy and grateful they are for how little they have, I am on the brink of tears out of true enlightenment to life and why we exist."
Taken from my blog at www.benjaminintanzania.blogspot.com
My experience in Tanzania, volunteering with YCI was life-changing and enlightening. From the online orientation at home in Canada, to the pre-project learning, to the support traveling to the host country, YCI (Canada) staff were at your assistance,always just a phone call away. The same can be said for the YCI TZ staff.
Living locally with a homestay family truly took my experience to another level of full-immersion into Tanzanian culture and life. Being able to ask our mama questions about culture, politics and livelihoods over dinner was an invaluable addition to my experience. Having that family support overseas allowed me to transition quickly to local life knowing I had a safe home and supportive family to rely on while I was so far away from my own.
While we completed programming with small groups of local youth it was fun and I did get a sense of accomplishment for myself as well as the programs with local youth. I built relationships with youth who lived a world away, in different conditions, speaking a different language and yet so similar to myself. When completing the end of project reports, was when the numbers became apparent and recognizing that through the 40 or so youth that we worked with directly, we had an impact on upwards of 2500-5000 people through in the community as these youth were already spreading and using their new skills and knowledge with regards to HIV/AIDS, WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene) and small business skills.
Would I do it again...at the drop of hat. Unfortunately, my life in North America and financial responsibilities may not allow me to volunteer on another project for a while, once that financial freedom is with me, I will find myself, once again meeting those people like myself, in their home countries, passionate to make a difference.
Thank you YCI!