For the winter holidays of 2018 Filippo Campione and myself travelled to my hometown Mwanza, Tanzania. The main aim of the trip was to undertake our CAS Project at a local orphanage in Mwanza. We arrived on a Friday and spent the weekend getting acclimatised to the humid equatorial climate, and frankly getting a rest from the previous exhausting school term. On Monday morning we arrived for our first day at work; we met the staff and fellow volunteers before being thrown straight into the wilderness. The children were overwhelming on the first day; they were all so energetic and in your face such that we had no time to contemplate on how to carry ourselves around the kids or for instance what games to play. We had to start and get going with whatever it is we were doing immediately. We participated in the Teddy Bear picnic and bath time that day; the latter of which involved us changing diapers – something neither one of us had done before. On the walk back home that evening we discussed our new-found respect and understanding of childcare and of all the parents out there who do this every day, it’s not easy. It was definitely an eye-opening first day.
CAS Project – Smiles, Piggybacks and Dirty Diapers – Just Two Guys on Baby Duty
The rest of our time at Forever Angels Baby home continued in similar fashion; everyday would bring a new challenge – be it dealing with crying children, the noisy preschool classroom or chaotic playtime and TV room time; suffice to say, we were not bored. As the days went, we got to know the kids more and more; their names, their stories, what they like and so on and in the same fashion they got to know us a little better. Filippo became the experienced pilot of a piggy back aircraft and I was the driver of the classic piggy back pickup – these were in some way our trademarks during playtime.
It’s quite hard to describe everything we did and experienced during this time in writing as most of it is ineffable; lessons which could only be assimilated personally. In the end however, this was way more than anything we could have expected – way more than a CAS project. For instance, some of the children had deeply saddening backgrounds of abuse and neglect, but despite this they still managed to have the brightest and most beautiful of smiles and laughter every single day; this was incredibly strong. Most significantly, this showed us that no matter how tough and bleak the horizon may seem, there can still be a hope for a brighter day; and to learn this type of lesson from children who could barely speak properly was perpetually potent.
As I mentioned above, I cannot put everything we got out of this CAS experience into words; all I can say is that it was unforgettable and unlocked parts of us which were hitherto unbeknownst to us. I will be going back to my hometown in December, if you or someone you know would like to send or donate anything to the orphanage, as they do truly amazing and inspiring work in Mwanza, please don’t hesitate to contact me through the school for more details of what they do and how you can help.
IBDP 2 Student