For me coming to Makeni seemed an obvious choice, like the next step in a life cycle. My grandfather founded Makeni, my father grew up there, my mother was a volunteer there and met my dad there, I was born in Lusaka, and lived as a child at Makeni Centre. I found myself at the age of 20, a second year biology student at the University of Victoria in Canada, not sure what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I thought my experience at Makeni would help me to find some direction and learn more about myself. Also I think once you see how life is for the average person in Africa, you find it hard to ignore, and you feel a need to do something. I liked the idea of how Makeni is a place with many different things happening. There is the school, the orphanage, the agricultural and carpentry departments, the clinic, the settlement villages, so many possibilities for volunteering. I wanted to see how everything was working there, meet all the great people and feel like a part of their community. Before my grandfather died I told him that I would return to Makeni and work as a volunteer. I hope to make him proud.
Some of my specific goals that I have made after being here for a while include:
- One-on-one tutoring the orphan children with reading, English and math skills, especially those who are behind after missing school because of their parents’ death.
- Doing some fun activities with the orphan children, such as painting, drumming, papier-mache, charades (acting game), and other group games.
- Being a positive role model for the children (reading is cool man! etc.). Getting to know them as individuals, just spending time with them basically.
- Getting a basketball court set up again
- Building a path with cement tiles leading up to my grandfather’s grave. The tiles will be decorated by the orphans, some of the older ones will help with construction.
- Setting up the DVD player in the orphanage complete with security cage
- Planting as many trees as I can. The head of agricultural department has supplied some seeds of useful trees. These include Moringa which has super nutritious leaves and has many other uses.
- Aiding in communication with Makeni’s world-wide family.
- Suggesting avenues for further development, especially pertaining to the orphanage