Serving abroad in a volunteer capacity had been a desire of mine for quite a while already. To live with a local family, work with children and immerse myself in the daily life and experiences of my host country – Zambia is the place where you can get it all.
During the two and a half months that I worked at the St. Anthony's Children Home I made valuable and for sure unforgettable experiences. In addition, I was able to meet people and make friends and learn a lot about Zambia and the joy and excitement that is palpable there. All this in the end helped me to learn about myself and what truly matters to me in my life.
Currently there are 70 children who live at the St. Anthony's Children Home, of which 27 have varying degrees of physical disabilities, 9 are mentally disabled and 4 have to deal with HIV/Aids. The caretakers do a good job in addressing the different needs of these children. The type of atmosphere that is being created, interaction styles as well as routines and habits in the end all depend on the employees in such a facility; after all, everyone lives in as close a proximity (if not more) than you would experience in a family. It was encouraging to see the trust and close relationships that were present between the children and the caretakers.
At the beginning of my time at St. Anthony's, children and even some of the adults were fascinated and wanted to touch my hair and white skin. I, however, was mostly concerned with learning and understanding the needs and desires of each individual child, so as to compensate as much as I could for the lack of love and attention that many of them already had to experience in their young lives.
Altogether, there was a lot to do and take care of at St. Anthony's and the work was not always easy from an emotional and even physical point of view. Most of the adults and also the children only spoke very limited English; and with me being unable to converse in the Bemba, the local language, communication differences arose here and there that needed to be dealt with. But aside from this, the children and I had a lot of fun and good times together.
For me personally, the time there gave me a better and deeper understanding of how many good things I have in my life and what a privilege it is to live in Europe.
I hereby would like to thank iChange and give them two thumbs up for facilitating my visit. To visit such a location, immerse myself in a different culture and work on such a project – it's been definitely worth the effort.
I am sure I will return one day to St. Anthony's. I deeply miss the children and their laughs.