My Volunteer Experience

bryce-with-kids Arriving in Africa is an interesting experience. Riding the daladala for the first time is an exhilarating and truly horrifying experience. Walking into the playground at Peace Matunda, however, is a heart-breaking and awe-inspiring situation… cathartic. When I arrived, I knew it was an orphanage, and my mind was prepared. But my heart wasn’t. The children surrounded us, touching our clothes, jewelery, skin, hair. From the get go, I saw all smiles, heard their laughter and felt their hugs. I realized that you cannot help but to love these children for their basic joy and acceptance of all.

Even though was a short stay, I was privileged enough to be able to teach the kindergarten class with another volunteer. English, Math, exercises, activities (painting, drawing, puzzles, books) and Kiswahili are taught and my class had 15 wonderful students. Never having taught before, I looked to the children to teach me what they needed. Strengths and weaknesses showed after the first or second class and teaching then took on a fluidity and ease that I never thought would happen.

Post-school playtime was some of my favorite moments spent here. “TRYING” to make animal shapes out of balloons, swimming in the river and drawing pictures on the porch was the perfect mix for belly shaking laughs and happy memories, especially with the 10-15 devilish little angels that accompanied such activities.

As for the rest of the stay, the locals are great. There is always a greeting as someone walks by, and there is no end to the people that are genuinely interested in who you are and where you are from. I am thankful that Richard has an ample supply of pipi for the kids, that Bella is such an open and friendly waterfall guide, and Kaaya and Joyce are welcoming and wonderful hosts. Tawny, Madeleine and Johanna – I am happy to have gotten to know each and everyone of you, and appreciate all of the guidance.
To all the children of Peace Matunda, as well as my new friends, I will miss you all very much.

Bryce is originally from Connecticut, U.S.. He volunteered at Peace Matunda for two weeks in January 2009 together with his brother Ben.

A Volunteer’s Day

Describing my day… You usually wake up to the sound of a rooster. The first few days you are seriously thinking about just how to make him “disappear”, but after a while he becomes your friend and you wake up with a smile on your face. Then you sit down by the breakfast table and discuss politics and other serious matters with the other volunteers… or something in that direction 🙂 School starts at 8:30 and is finished by 12:30. It is nothing hardcore; you pretty much try to teach them something they don’t know. After school you have a lot of options. You can go to Arusha to use the internet or just to hang out. You meet a lot of interesting people there, believe me. You can also walk up to an amazing waterfall or even just sunbath on the roof. Playing with the kids is always a fun option too! All I can say is my experience has been wonderful. Watching the moon and the stars at night, hearing the monkeys in the trees talk to each other… I love it! It is like hitting the “reset” button on yourself and discover what it is you want out of all this. As long as you come here with an open mind, you will be welcomed with open arms, I promise. 

— Mackenzie, from Iceland, has been volunteering at Peace Matunda since mid August.

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