Chloe, Local Government Policy Officer from London
During my first week in Arusha I viewed Ujamaa's affiliated projects. I fell in love with Dymphna Special School the moment I walked through the door and Neema flung herself around my legs!
I worked in the Middle Class, teaching the children counting, reading, writing, art and play. It was utterly tiring, but so nice to end each day with the content exhaustion of having done something useful. It was a pleasure working with the teachers and other volunteers and to have the freedom and support of the School to have an idea and make it happen. Volunteer Oliwier wanted to take the children swimming, so we came up with a plan, made it happen and the children had the time of their lives. Back in the UK we would still be 'creating a strategy' and having meetings to talk about why we couldn't do it.
You need to throw yourself into life at the School. There is no running water [edit: as of late 2012, there is!], the School struggles to make ends meet and the children have a range of needs. You will be drooled on and sneezed on, but you will also be smothered with hugs, which more than make up for it.
I learnt more from the School and the children than I could ever put in; I've rediscovered the values that are important to me and remembered that these should be central to my professional life as well as my personal life. Mary makes every volunteer feel part of the Dymphna family and I think about the children and miss them every day.
I will definitely be returning.