Sitting here now, I′m surrounded by all the comfort the world can offer. It′s a contrast to where I was a couple of weeks ago, with 6 volunteers in the Kilwa region of Tanzania, where we were carrying out humanitarian work. Having previously taken part in a Mission Possible deployment in 2012 I wasn′t sure what to expect this time round. On completing the Mission in 2012, I had become more aware of the negative connotations that were often attached to volunteers carrying aid work in developing countries, especially those from the so-called ‘First World’. The whole saviour complex was far from what I felt in either deployment and I made sure I was aware that the purpose of this project was not to save the people, because they are not in need of salvation. Rather it is to carry out aid work, which will have a long-lasting impact on the lives of the beneficiaries, in terms of sustainability, health improvement and giving them access to facilities that will allow Tanzania to come closer to meeting the 8 UN Millennium Development Goals.
Toilets, what would we do without them? Do we even ask this question to ourselves? I for sure prior to the planning of this deployment didn't. Toilets are one of the most important inventions to date. Without toilets, diseases such as cholera would be rife.
I learned several things regarding sanitation in the planning stages of the deployment, so I was really looking forward to the tasks when I was placed in the sanitation team, as I was previously in the livelihood team. I and two other volunteers were given the task, along with local workers, of constructing construct toilets for the school that would consist of 8 cubicles. The other two in the team were males. I immediately felt I was not going to be able to work as efficiently as they would, however, I was surprised at how much I had achieved and am grateful to the pushy nature of the team. The job required great skill and experience in cementing, plastering and levelling. We were able to learn skills and carry out tasks that we had never done before.
Although we left without having the toilets fully constructed, we were satisfied that we have given knowledge and structure which will improve the sanitation levels dramatically. Once the toilets are completed we shall receive the photos.
Having left Kilwa, I was satisfied with the work we had achieved in the little space we had. Although slightly disheartened [the task wasn′t completed during the deployment for several reasons], I was content we had made a step to a positive change which will benefit the people of the village for several years to come. The lessons we taught and intended to spread were to benefit the villagers in order to improve their health and wellbeing.
We must always appreciate what we have. If we cannot get what we want, we must accept that. Striving is important but we must never think that the world is against us, the world is not against us. I am truly blessed for the life I have been given. We all face challenges in life. However, our pain, our suffering is nothing compared to the suffering these children and many others face. We must learn to appreciate what we have and to always help those in need. There are always people out there who have it worse. We must always smile. Always.
Cheka Sana (BIG SMILES).
PS We spent a day in the Eco Village with the orphans. We were all deeply touched by the Eco village and the whole concept, so the female volunteers and I decided that we would make the intention of raising £50,000 to cover the cost of one orphan house, this would require no further funds after that as the village sustains itself. Please pray that we are successful in our efforts.