Cindy Schotte

Diary of a volunteer

My name is Cindy Schotte, 30 years old, from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. I am on a sabbatical leave for three months. I want to give you a glimpse of one of my weeks at MEC after two months here.

Sunday April 29th 2007

The morning starts as every other Sunday with a church service. The children always dress up and act even more spontaneously when they see me than any other moment. Some of the girls also sing in the church choir, which I really love hearing.

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In the afternoon, Gordon and Julia, volunteers from the UK, and myself took the older girls out bowling. This was something they had never done before, but they were actually pretty good at it. We will probably take the boys out bowling next week. With the younger children we’ve already been to a place called Sandy’s creation. This is actually a garden centre, but with a very nice playground and, best of all, a bouncy castle.

Monday April 30th

In the morning I played several games of what I would like to call bottle football. Some kids helped me carrying the bottles, from my house to the football field, where we filled them up with water. The nice thing about the game is that everybody is playing for him or herself. You have to protect your own bottle and at the same time play football and try to hit somebody else his bottle.

Around 11.00 Mr Kapalu and I started painting the storeroom, which at the moment is only being used for the agriculture department, but when finished will also be used by the other departments. In the last few weeks windows and electricity have been implemented. Hopefully everything is finished in time so I can coordinate the receiving of the materials from all departments and set up an administration system.

At the end of the day, together with Gordon, Julia and most of the children, we went for a walk around the centre. This can take from 30 minutes up to an hour and is a good opportunity for the children to be out of the centre. Besides that it is relaxing and fun.

Tuesday May 1st

Today is officially a free day, however I decided to go to work and take another day off.

In the morning the children made key hangers and bracelets with scoubidou. As they know better how to do it than me they didn’t need any assistance, so I played some (ball) games with the children who didn’t join in the scoubido.

The boys played a football match in the afternoon against a team from outside, as it is still school holiday. Lucky for me the girls liked to play basketball so we enjoyed our own game.

After that, not many where interested in going for a walk, but as I was full of energy I went with only one of the girls, and Tina, a woman who lives and works at the centre, for an hour long walk.

Wednesday May 2nd

In the morning I took the laptop down to the orphanage, to do some spelling and maths games with the children under grade 6. It’s good fun, and meanwhile they learn some computer skills and improve their spelling and maths.

On Thursday afternoon I always take the the children from grades 6, 7 and 8 to the computer room, where they can either do spelling games or start working with Word.

In the afternoon I continued painting the lines on the basketball court with the help of three boys. Over the last week I have been working, together with some of the boys, the carpentry teacher, his students, a welder and Mr Kapalu on a new basketball court. We bought, sawed and painted new boards, bought a new ring, installed them higher then the previous ones and started with the painting of the lines on the court. We are not yet ready, as we need some cement to fill-up the holes on the court and need to finish the painting, but it’s getting close.

Wednesday evening is a church evening, so not enough time to take the children out for a walk. I borrowed a dvd from the orphanage and enjoyed watching it.

Thursday May 3rd

Every Thursday somebody from the agriculture department, the driver and some settlers go to one of the settlement villages. This Thursday they went to Mwomboshi. I loved seeing a bit of the country site and made a walk through the bush there. Absolutely very lovely.

I would like to suggest future volunteers not to spend all their sponsor money at the orphanage in Makeni, but also see what is needed in the settlement villages, as the people over there have far less.

Friday May 4th

I spend all day with the children making necklaces. For this we used parts of monkey apples, which we first of all had to sandpaper, bits and plastic wire.

Activities like these, as also making bracelets are one of their favourites. Okay, nothing can beat football, but still.

At the end of the day we went for a long walk.

“Africa is full of people in need of help.
You simply can not help everybody,
but you can at least help those who come into your life.
That principle allows you to deal with the suffering you see.
That is your suffering.
Other people will have to deal with the suffering that they, in their turn, come across.”

About Makeni Webmaster

I spent most of my youth in Makeni, growing up at the centre as it emerged from the bush, one building at a time. I now work in the UK as a lecturer in computer science.
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