It’s impossible to properly describe my two weeks at Amani Children’s Home, a Tanzanian shelter for homeless youth, because it’s so far from normal life here in Canada. All at once, it was incredibly fun, sad, heartwarming, challenging, but most of all inspiring. And it was all due to the incredible energy the children and staff of Amani carry themselves with throughout their day to day.
The stories of some of the children before they reached Amani are gut wrenching to the point you couldn’t imagine it possible. Abuse of all kinds from family members, strangers, and other youth on the street. But without actively thinking about it, I would never have guessed the happy kids mobbing me to play or teach had experienced these tragedies. It’s not to say their extreme hardships don’t affect them, their actions do occasionally give a glimpse into their past, but their resilience is what constantly shone through as they were super enthusiastic and excited about everything from a game of basketball to reading a book together.
The Amani staff is owed a lot of credit for the children as they unwaveringly showed them the care, attention, role modelling, and ultimately love that they needed the most. What got me most was the personal relationships they developed with the children and how they enjoyed playing and hanging out with the children as if they were their own. Importantly, they also instilled a self-respect and responsibility in them by having them wash their own dishes, do their own laundry, and help clean the massive building. One of my favourite moments between the staff and children was the teachers presenting the top children in their class with a small award which was completely outshone by the beaming smiles and pride from both the teacher and student.
You’re naturally probably wondering what this blog has to do with Transcend so I’ll get to that now. Before I left on my adventure, I dreamt up a big fundraiser where I went to local restaurants, shops, and cafes asking if they’d be interested in supporting Amani in their quest to build a large new Drop-In Center in a large neighbouring city. The idea being that this facility would temporarily accommodate children Amani social workers befriended on the street who accepted their offer of a safe, warm sleep that came with food, tea, and a chance to have a shower and wash their clothes. To me, it’s the most important service Amani offers because it allows social workers to get to the children as soon as they get to the street, give them a chance to counsel and get to know them, then hopefully be able to rescue them from falling too far down that path.
I cannot be more grateful for Poul Mark believing in Amani and their Drop-In Center and ultimately for his very generous support. Poul’s support was instrumental to my fundraiser not only boosting funds but his advice, belief, and support inspired me to work even harder to reach my fundraising goal to support the Drop-In Center. Being a local community member, it makes me incredibly proud to have a socially conscious and giving business like Transcend in the community.
I truly saw the value of the new Drop-In Center on the night I spent on the street with the social workers. One twelve year old who came back to the current tiny shelter had ran away from home because he failed a test and was too scared to face his parents. These seemingly small issues causing children to turn to the streets are just as common as big tragedies. Without Amani, these children are exposed to the dangers of the street for longer which include rampant glue sniffing and physical and sexual abuse. The Drop-In Center gives them a haven from the street life and a chance for the social workers to find the issue and try to rectify it, find a responsible family member to take the child in, or failing those and if wanted, bring the child to Moshi where he or she can stay at the main center.
I could gush on and on about Amani Children’s Home but after working for or being exposed to numerous humanitarian organizations in my over 4 months spent in Tanzania, I can vehemently state they are an A++ organization that is ran without any critique from my usually critical eye. If you’re interested in learning more, check out their website which describes their work in more detail, as well as their Drop-In Center project (http://www.amanikids.org/).
Thank you very much again to Poul Mark and Transcend. Your support is literally changing lives!
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