I was first attracted to the idea of trying a new experience far away from my family and my town. When I started reading the blogs of former CorpsAfrica volunteers, I realized how priceless their experience was to each one of them. Aside from my passion for volunteerism and giving back to the community, I was also eager to change myself and inspire people around me.
What was/were the project(s) you worked on with your community?
My first activity was organizing soccer matches for the kids and participating during the weekend. Although this activity seemed very simple at first, I quickly realized that as I got to know the kids, I needed to figure out ways to make soccer a learning tool for them, and this was particularly valuable since most of them seemed to lack communication, discipline, and teamwork skills. I later found that soccer was a game that brought them together, and it was so good to think of it as a communicative mean. Watching them apologizing to each other, working in teams, or simply giving a hand when someone falls was enough proof for me to stay motivated.
The second activity was directed to women. Illiteracy is one of the main dominant issues in my site especially amongst women. Initially, it was not easy for me to get their approval and their involvement in such a conservative community that didn’t encourage that. So I came up with the idea of health care awareness sessions with the aim of raising awareness about sicknesses and hygiene, and encouraging them to ask “embarrassing” questions regarding these matters. After guaranteeing their attendance through these sessions, I proposed the illiteracy program. There were 19 women who began attending, 6 girls among them who dropped out of school. I never imagined this will make the huge impact that it did for them and for me as well; they were ambitious, motivated learners and the women eventually surpassed the insecurities they recognized.
The last project was the renovation of a preschool that was built by former CorpsAfrica Volunteer, Hiba Tazi, and the community. To guarantee the sustainability of the project, we hired a new preschool teacher for the kids for the new school year. In addition, we worked on renovating the classroom from the inside due to the humidity and mold that has pasted on the walls and thus made the classroom an unhealthy environment for the students. Moreover, the classroom didn’t look too inviting, so we decided to implement a few changes by removing the paint off the four concrete walls and bathroom and repainting them again using thick humidity-resistant paint, before painting colorful murals and cartoons on the walls. After, we gathered and encouraged the kids in the village to participate in a cleaning campaign around the school.
I also took part of other small activities with kids, such as homework tutoring, cleaning campaigns around the school, and different craft workshops.
What part of your service did you enjoy most?
I have enjoyed every moment of my service, even the sad ones. Each day at my site thought me to be more patient, strong, satisfied, and innovative. Looking back, I reminisce on my first few days at my site, when I spent many nights crying, but later realized that that was a first step to strength myself. Lastly, I enjoyed all the challenges and scary moments, including driving up the dangerous road up the village, which helped me get better at facing my fears.
What is your favorite memory from your service?
The best memory that I still hold dearly is looking into the eyes of the preschool children who race to the school every morning to participate in our daily tasks. We would find them ready and eagerly waiting for us to open the door and help us in painting and such activities. It was a real motivation for me to give all I have in making the preschool look great for the little students.
What will you miss the most from living in your host site?
I will miss the kids mostly - that jovial time we spent, creating teams, playing soccer and chatting with each other by the river. I will miss hiking the road that lead to my house that taught me how to be patient and strong. I will miss my host family, particularly my host mom and her playful complains and gossip. Lastly, I will miss the women in my site and chatting with the older people.
How has your CorpsAfrica experience changed your personal perspective?
I believe that volunteering shapes a person's heart, mind and soul completely. The chance to share the humble resources I possessed with the community which I eventually considered my home was an incomparable opportunity. By simply opening your eyes and heart to the culture of a new place, you can have an entirely beneficial, life changing experience.
I also started counting my blessings twice. The lack of resources and the poverty lead me to be more thankful and grateful of what I had, and the struggling and fighting of others around me taught me to stay positive and motivated to keep going.
I became more understanding. I found myself a more understanding, compassionate, and empathetic person simply by having contributed my time and hard work for the benefit of others. I realized that sharing the struggles of those in need will help a person become less judgmental towards others.
I appreciated experiencing a different way of life. Living a completely new and different way of life helped me to get out of my comfort zone, get to know people from all over the region (and globe), learn a new local language and become a more adaptable person who is able to overcome challenges much more easily.