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From Empathy to Philanthropy

Written by CorpsAfrica/Rwanda Exchange Volunteer Mr. Magatte Ndiaye

Travel offers us the opportunity to take time out to refocus and to recognize ourselves. Often, it is tempting to move away from our comfort zone to get to know ourselves better and to have a clearer idea of what we want to accomplish in our lives. Therefore, going on an adventure toward the unknown allows us to escape from our daily lives and break from our daily routines. I am a young Senegalese man in love with Africa who decided to seize the opportunity of CorpsAfrica’s exchange Volunteer program to explore a new horizon away from my home. This is how I left the country of Teranga for Rwanda, the country of a thousand hills. I appreciated everything I saw around me, especially the beautiful landscape decorated by the greenery and mountains that make this country special. I was far from imagining that this country would be a school of life for me. After a month of training, I was finally deployed to a site located in the North of the country and more precisely in the district of Rulindo. As soon as I arrived, everyone was staring at me, I didn’t understand the language they spoke and they didn’t understand mine either. Fortunately for me, I was deployed together with another fellow Volunteer who usually helped me with the translation. In my host family, I sat with them for more than half an hour, during which time I was often absent because of the difficulty of communicating in this language. I was then directed to a cement room with a roof made of straw on the inside and tiles on the outside. I went in and lay on my back and Morpheus took me in his arms and it was only in the early morning that I opened my eyes again. This first day was the launching of a great adventure where my feelings did not stop evolving. The questions were multiplying but fiercely believed in my host community’s open arms and pleasant reception.

Between community meetings and focus groups, I kept explaining why I had come to this community, but for some people, only concrete actions could make them see the reasons. It was my second time serving and I was enthusiastic to facilitate sustainable change in Rwanda and my journey started then.

This experience was one of the best I have ever had and I now realize that volunteering is empathy in everyday life. It is the ability to put yourself in the shoes of another person without judging them. It took me some time to understand this but I must admit that it was a great help and I can now confirm that it is through the cracks that the light emerges. The other aspect that deserves to be highlighted is that this experience allowed me to decide for the first time to change my impulsiveness and work on my spontaneity. The practice of this daily empathy has led me to feel an unparalleled love for this community allowing me to promote philanthropy daily. I put the human being at the heart of my actions.

Today, I blossom and I live a beautiful period of my life. I understood then that volunteering is certainly a gift of self that gives the volunteer much more than what he offers. There are so many things to say to magnify this solemn experience that a novel can’t cover. With my current Service in Rwanda, I have no words to express my feelings towards facilitating sustainable changes in my community.

Once a Volunteer, always a Volunteer.


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