When I was eleven years old, I was lucky enough to take three months off school to go travelling with my parents. My Mum told me quite matter-of-factly, “You will learn more through travel than you ever will at school.” She is a teacher. And she was right. I learned about the power of dream catchers in California, the beauty of dolphins in Hawaii, the mystery of sea monsters in Scotland and just how green grass could be in England. My mind expanded a little more with each country we visited and I began to see myself as being connected to something much bigger than just my neighbourhood or even my country.
The place that probably held the most learning for me – a young, sheltered girl from Sydney – was Africa. I had never witnessed such extremes of the human condition. There was overwhelming poverty and desperation, and in the same heartbeat a pure joyfulness and unity I had not experienced anywhere else. Visiting small villages, we would be greeted with dazzling smiles and spontaneous singing and people willing to share whatever they had. When I got home I was thankful for clean running water, proper toilets and the opportunity to go back to school because I knew not every child in the world could. My eleven year old self just could not comprehend why all the countries of the world weren’t working together to make sure that every child had access to things like food, clean water, a safe place to live and an education.
The thing is, my twenty-seven year old self still can’t comprehend it. So when I see a group of dedicated and passionate volunteers trying to help their own community in Tanzania with little to no outside support, there is no question that if I can help, I will. The volunteers at Kigamboni Community Centre are working incredibly hard simply to allow the children in their community access to things we take completely for granted in Australia – shelter, food, education, good health and a sense of belonging. They have a near 100% success rate at getting children back into the education system. My friend Nikki and I want to volunteer our time and skills to help them continue to do this amazing work. (Nikki will be talking more about the practical details of our project in the next post.)
My naive eleven year old self thought all countries could all work together to change the world. Now I believe that small groups of people can work together to make change community by community. We have the opportunity to make a positive difference to the children of Kigamboni, so let’s take it. As Woodrow Wilson put it, we are all world citizens, and that means we can all do something to “enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
By: Cat Wright
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