My volunteering experience in Maputo by Tuli Pandeni

In Nov/Dec 2013, I decided to step out of my comfort zone (Namibia My Motherland), to break out of this hard shell that has confined me to the four corners of my room and be amongst the first generation of AIESEC Namibia members to go on an exchange, but little did I know what awaits me on the other side of the borders. A two day bus trip to Mozambique was the longest trip I have ever taken, but a long comfortable ride it was, thanks to Intercape.
So I’m embarking on a journey that is supposedly to be the most incredible experience of my life. I’m a victim of Matthias Kunz & Djamila’s (AIESEC Namibia founding president and first lady) exceptional sales skills: “Mozambique is so beautiful, you would love it there, sounding all convincing to most.

In my head, been my typical wambo negative self I was like “BLUH, WATEVA” What could be so beautiful about this African country, falls, beaches, forests & bushes? I’ve seen them all, Namibia is the one, we got it all, been there seen it all, but I went anyhow. All I wanted was a breather, a change in scenery, a holiday where I didn’t have to travel to the north ( with its 40 ◦C weather ) and I wanted to get my experience , do something productive and grow.

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On my arrival in Maputo, I was so shocked. What I virtualized about Mozambique was not what I saw in reality: not as clean as Namibia.
Looking on the brighter side, WOW! What tall buildings this town had, I swear if you were on top of one, you where an inch closer to touching the clouds and heaven itself (now that’s my imagination running wild), but this were the tallest buildings I have ever seen, tallest but very old. We arrived at a 14 flight apartment building, which was going to be my new home for the next 6 weeks, I and 20 other students in a five bedroom apartment and did I mention we lived on the 13th floor, the second last floor in a building where it was all stairs, as the elevators broke down centuries ago by the look of things, talk about a home gym….

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My attachment was at an orphanage called Reencontro Orphanage, where we were mainly interns from South Africa, Botswana and I from Namibia. Our job description was mainly to fundraise for the orphanage home, we were a group of ±interns who teamed up on a project to conduct workshops (on personnel hygiene, dreaming big, self –esteem etc.) and having one big fair for children of 9-15 years of age. A tough 6 weeks it was, a lot of trials & tribulation and language barriers along the way, but a successful internship and project we had. This is where every intern contributed the little they could; be it a smile or a hug to brighten up someone’s day, to the workshop presentation or the organization of the fair. I for one was privileged to have been part of the team, to have helped and added value to someone’s life especially the children of Reencontro Orphanage.

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On the fun side, for leisure there was so much to do. Partying, shopping , sightseeing, Mozambique is a beautiful country I should conclude from the little is saw , even though because of finances I was not able to visit all the touristic attractions , I’m definitely saving up to go back and be the explore some more. Mozambique, Maputo is amongst, if not the safest country/city in the world.

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“Life is a long journey, just make sure you take the right road”- Unknown

Well I have surely taken the right road that taught me so much , an experience I would never forget , an experience that opened my eyes to new opportunities & Goals , that has connected me to other strong- minded, ambitious student, visionaries , some of whom ,I’ll cherish as friends despite the geographical distances. I meet different personalities & cultures that have taken and added different values and aspects to my life that changed me in more ways than one; mentally and emotionally.

My life will never be the same again, that “Wambo” negative girl is no more, a better me was born.

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