JoEllen back in Africa

Welcoming JoEllen Back

My name is JoEllen Collins and I am here in Africa for the second time in two and a half years as a volunteer at Kilimanjaro Kids Care. When I came here from Idaho the first time, I was fulfilling a life-long dream of Africa in the way I like best, by living in a community and sharing energy and love with its inhabitants. My first trip ever as a teenager was to volunteer in Uyambicho, Ecuador, for the summer, building playground equipment at nine rural villages located 11,000 feet in the Andes. Since then I have lived in many other parts of the world for chunks of time: India, Italy, Greece , the UK, and especially as a 53-year-old volunteer with the Peace Corps in Thailand. Nothing, however, prepared me for the impact of the 21 children, the three caretakers, and Theresa’s ceaseless energy here in Tanzania.
So now I am back. I am a member of MAD’s Board, spreading the word about this wonderful effort, and planning on how to incorporate more of MAD in my life. I sponsor Neema (now 14) who, I am proud to say, is now at a secondary level boarding school and is doing well. I will get to see her again in a few days, but the hugs and welcome of the other children at Kili already have reminded me of my purpose here.
I am with three other women from the States, two from my home town in the Wood River Valley and one from Pennsylvania, and we are each contributing our specific skills to help the kids. I am involved in sewing projects. We have had the delight of watching the girls try on their new dresses that several volunteers from my home town made. (We are setting up sewing bees when I return .) I treated myself this time to a three day excursion shortly after I arrived. Anna, the woman from Pennsylvania, and I flew to Rwanda to take a trek to see Dane Fossey’s gorilllas in Volcanoes National Park. It was an amazing experience, especially being only about four feet away from the newest baby, just four days old, as his mother fed and caressed him. The three days in Rwanda, topped off by our moving visit to the Genocide Museum in Kilgali, were magical, but I loved “coming home” to the guest house and now anticipate lots of times with the children at Kili Kids.


About gomadnowvolunteer

Make a Difference (MAD). An organization which provides quality educational opportunities to vulnerable children. #volunteer #scholarships #orphans #Africa
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