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Volunteer at Amani Children's Home

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Through the eyes of a volunteer at Amani Children's Home in Tanzania

Meet Pernille, a true enthusiast, who volunteered at Amani Children’s Home in Tanzania for three months during 2017-2018.

Pernille was working at First Hotel Grand in Odense, who supported her desire to travel to Africa and volunteer her heart and hands. During Christmas 2018, she returned to Tanzania to follow up on projects and visit the children, she grew so fond of. As Pernille says: Once you have dedicated your heart and hands to help where help is most needed, the commitment is deeply rooted in your soul.
Read about some of her experience below.

Let me start by introducing myself: Ninaitwa Pernille na ninafanya kazi Amani Children`s Home. Oh, I`m sorry, is your Swahili not up to date?

Well, hakuna matata, neither was mine just a few months back, when the email that I had been impatiently waiting for suddenly appeared in my inbox: “Congratulations, you have been accepted as a volunteer at Amani Children`s Home!”

Usually, I work at First Hotel Grand Odense in Denmark as the booking assistant. I have been a donor to Amani for ages through my salary, and my small office back home is covered in drawings of giraffes and chameleons in front of Mount Kilimanjaro. I`m not sure when these drawings began whispering to me, but something inside me slowly grew to the extent that I felt compelled to contribute with more than my monthly monetary donation: Maybe I could help even better with my personal and professional skills, down there where it all happens?

Want to donate to Amani Children's Home? Every little helps!
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Read more about Amani and First Hotels' CSR here.

Amani CHildren's Home

A regular day at Amani Children’s Home

I bet you wonder how a normal day at Amani Children`s Home goes by. How does Amani manage to take care of all these former street children with all these different backgrounds and needs? How does Amani make sure that no child is left behind and that every child receives individual attention and care?

Well, if there is one thing these kids have in common, even though they have lived almost-adult lives on the streets, it is the very fact that they are kids.

In contrast to life on the streets, Amani offers a safe place where the children need not worry about the next meal or where to sleep at night. Amani does indeed mean peace in Swahili (just in case you didn`t already engage in Swahili lessons).

The kids can concentrate on being kids, forget about the street life, and do whatever kids their age do: eat breakfast, go to school, eat lunch, do their homework, play, eat dinner, play some more, and finally go to sleep.

Amani Children's Home

Rescuing Children

When a child is rescued by the Amani street workers, a carefully structured engine sets in motion: a social worker will initially meet with the child to learn as much as he can about the child and the reasons why this child ended up on the streets. As Amani strongly holds that the best place for the child to grow up is within a family, a series of counselling sessions in the following weeks will aid the (hopefully successful) reunification with the child's relatives. 

After the initial talk, the child receives clean clothes, personal hygiene articles and is assigned a place to sleep. A meeting with a teacher assesses the child's educational status: he is then paired with children of the same educational level – not necessarily of the same age. Amani's classes follow the same curriculum as normal Tanzanian primary school, but at a higher speed, and depending on the child's skills, several years of schooling can be completed during one school year in order to catch up with the primary level.

Since we are now in late December (red: Pernille wrote this real time during her stay), school's out because of the Christmas break, which leaves the otherwise busy classrooms empty. The kids are outside playing, and the weeks are packed with all sorts of activities. Football is best played in the morning hours before the burning sun scorches the sandy field, and LEGO is best played in the afternoon in the soothing shadow of the mango trees.

Amani Children's Home

Restoring Hope

The children are able to sign up for various optional classes during the school break. They do so numerously and with great enthusiasm. The English Club is buzzing with kids eager to practice their language skills, and the music lessons are at times so loud that my ears keep ringing for hours. Every week the kids bend themselves backward in impossible positions in acrobatics class, and the Wednesday volleyball match has turned into quite a spectacle for the entire staff.

Being part of different groups and teams encourages cooperation and the sense of belonging, but maybe most importantly the feeling of not being alone. Every social worker has the responsibility for his or her own individual group of around 10 children. The group meets to discuss different topics and dynamics, to receive guidance and counselling, to learn the life skills usually taught in the family situation, and to simply enjoy each other`s company in an atmosphere of confidence and trust.

Amani Children's Home

Transforming Lives

Children also need special individual attention, a personal bond with a dedicated adult, when a parent is no longer available.

Amani has therefore developed the Upendo program, where every single employee is assigned to 2-3 so-called Upendo children. Upendo means love in Swahili (that`s right, you are learning quickly!), and the Amani employee makes sure they spend individual quality time several hours a week with each of their Upendo children. Besides offering individual care, the employee ensures that the child is clean, does his homework, etc. When talking to my Tanzanian colleagues about this unique commitment I feel their admirable pride and sense of family ties where no blood relation is present.

Rewarding & Indescribable Experience

The Amani staff have encouraged me to interact with the children as much as possible and it is a truly rewarding experience. In addition to improving my Swahili remarkably on a daily basis, the joy of spending time with these kids is indescribable. Their imagination and carefree playful nature is such an inspiration to witness, especially after all the hazards they have endured in their as yet short lives. All of this is possible only because they feel safe enough to finally be the boys and girls that they indeed are.

Upendo na amani,