Interview with volunteer Rukiye.
All photos are from the day we spent in Snakepark with the kids of Amani orphanage.
Let’s begin with a hard one: Who are you?
I’m Rukiye, 26 years old and I come from Denmark but originally I’m from Turkey. I’m almost done with my studies and soon I can say that I’m a graduated careworker. I already work in nursery schools where my focus is on early childhood development. In addition I have two other jobs and I do volunteer work in Denmark too.
Rukiye and Alex.♥
Why did you decide to come to volunteer in Tanzania?
I have always wanted to come to Africa because since I was a child I have been dreaming of having my own orphanage in this continent. I was looking around in Internet for a long time and visited many web sites of different organizations. I noticed that AIT was the cheapest option so that played a role in my choice too. Couple months ago I finally decided that February would be a good time to go. After that I wrote to a Facebook group and asked if someone would want to come with me because I was too afraid to go alone. Luckily I got one girl to come with me and now we have spent almost a month here. What comes to the country, I didn’t prefer any but I could not be happier that I chose Tanzania.
What kind of volunteer work have you been doing here?
Before coming here I arranged a fundraising through Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels. My family and friends helped me to share the message and I was so happy about how much I managed to collect: 2 739 dollars along with the money I put into it. With this money I bought a lot of toys from Denmark and brought them here because I wanted to give them to the schools and nurseries. Playing is learning and it especially improves children’s motor skills. That is why I wanted to bring toys here. It took from 1 to 2 weeks to visit different places, play with the children and give them the toys and games.
After that we have been visiting more schools and orphanages, observing them and asking what kind of things they would need. Then I have been buying more things such as backpacks, pens, books and other school things, toys, diapers, food… I learnt that you need to be careful when doing this because unfortunately some people only want the money and don’t think about the children’s needs. I have, with the help of others, also arranged a day out with the children of Amani Orphanage and we together also cleaned and painted the walls of a school nearby. I have also been talking to the leader of the orphanage about what it takes to open an orphanage here, how she started etc.
Has something surprised you here?
I really did not expect Africa to be like this. Media gives us only one side of the continent: hunger, poverty, insecurity… Those things exist here but still it is so much more than that. I didn’t expect it to be this green and many places remind me of other countries even in Europe. In addition people, especially children, have surprised me because they get so happy with so little: just by seeing you. I have to say that it feels like home here and I feel safe. Before I came here I was so nervous and scared that something bad would happen to me but here I have not felt fear at all. Despite of that it is important to always be careful.
What has been the best thing here?
People. I’m shy when I don’t feel safe and before this trip I was scared that I wouldn’t find any friends. But I have got so many new friends and I can talk to anyone here. It feels like I have a new family because normally I get homesick very quickly but here I haven’t felt that almost at all.
What has not been that great?
The toilets… Hygiene is obviously not that great here and the dry toilets were not very tempting at first and it took two weeks to get used to them. But that’s just a small thing and you learn to live with everything.
What have you learnt during this trip and what can you bring with you to Denmark?
When we were arranging the day out with the kids, it was the first time in my life when I had to be the leader and people were asking me about everything. I definitely had to come out of my comfort zone and just do it because it was my own plan. Now I feel that I can be responsible for these kind of events and for so many people. But especially here I think you have to have locals helping you and people who you can rely on. I’m glad that the team leaders helped me in so many ways.
This trip has in many ways been an eye-opening journey. I have learnt that I can’t do anything alone and that loyalty is very important. I have gotten many new contacts which could help me when I begin to work towards my dream: my own orphanage. But the most important thing I got from here is friends.