Occupation: Student, Co-founder & Coordinator of Zion Care
Hometown: Stockholm, Sweden
IVHQ program: Tanzania
Program date: January 2009 - 6 weeks
What is your fondest memory from your time volunteering abroad with IVHQ?
There are so many to choose from… But it has to be my first day, when we were taken to meet those at the orphanage where we were going to work. They hadn't had any volunteers previously and we were welcomed with the sight of 50+ children cheering, screaming, running, and trying to grab our hands to welcome us into their village. A short while later, I learnt I'd be teaching English to 70+ children of all ages!
Why should you be the IVHQ Volunteer of the Year?
For the past few years, I have been working tirelessly each day on the development of Zion Care, a project I started in 2009 together with a small group of local people and my partner. From being a plot of dirt land it has now been transformed to a loving home for 17 orphans, a education center for 25 widows ages 25-70 and a small kindergarten for the widows' children.
- We have been registerd as an NGO and so much has happend in the past 3 years
- The building of a orphanage center with 4 big bedrooms, kitchen, 2 classrooms, toilet and showerblock, running water, solar panels, playground ect
- We have started many selfsufficent projects like a goat farm, a chicken farm, a vegetable farm, a fish ponds ect
- We have started projects for the widows so they are now working on a sewingbuisness, maizemillbuisness + cheese and butter making buisness
- All the children get first class education at one of the top private school but also at the center where we are just setting up a new school for younger children
It has always been very important for me to work closely with the local people, as I believe this is the key to success. So I always make sure we employ local people and listen to their vision and ideas! I am a strong believer in self-sufficiency and want one day for Zion Care to not rely on donations from the west but to be able to support themselves unduly. I have been helping to set up a chicken farm (with more than 200 chickens), a goat farm, a cheese and yoghurt making business etc.
I have found sponsors for all 17 children (chosen carefully) to attend Shepherds School in Arusha, a top private school, on a full time basis. Every month, I send out a Newsletter to all sponsors and to all supporters of the center.
Since the project was founded, I have financed all my visits to the center personally, and every penny raised has gone directly into the project, as it should.
I believe I should be IVHQ Volunteer of the Year for the commitment I have put in so far, for what lies ahead and for what great impact the project has had on the whole community.
What benefits will the award money have for your designated project?
We have many children desperately needing a home at the center. We can´t help anymore children right now, as we need to make sure we can provide for the ones we have got (3 meals a day, education, caretakers etc.) If I won the award money, I would invest it in a self-sufficient project like dairy cows. This would give us sufficient income to welcome more children.
I also have a dream of taking all the children to see the sea for a few days. They would love it sooo much! If I would win Volunteer of the Year, I would definitely do that and celebrate with the real heroes, the children!
What is your long-term vision for this project?
All our children are amazing, but they have been through some horrible things in their young lives that most of us can´t even imagine. I have a vision that these children grow up to become the next amazing generation of Tanzania. All sponsors are long-term so I´m sure that this dream will come true. I have a vision to help more children so once some grow up we can help the younger ones.
The widows in our group are incredible and strong women I have a vision that their businesses at the center will grow and that all 25 widows can support themselves in the future, not only to feed their families, but that they will have their chance to send their children and grandchildren to secondary school and maybe even one day university.
I have a long term vision that the center will be 100% self-sufficient so we never have to depend on aid.
We plan to start a school in the village. We are in talks with the manager at one of Tanzania’s highest regarded schools. They want to work together with us, with the aim being to reach out to more children and help them work towards the future they deserve. Continuing and developing the work of Zion Care in the community.