I came across MAD last year on-line whilst looking for a charity with whom I could do some volunteering in Tanzania. The more I read, the more I knew this was a charity that was everything I believed in – child centered, passionate about education and fun! The story of Theresa and her inspirational life changing journey made me even more determined to try to add to the good work being carried out. Before my trip, all the worries I had about travelling alone so far away were all put aside by constant emails and Skype with Theresa and emails of reassurance about pickup times from Emanuel. I arrived feeling very much the new girl and was immediately looked after by the team, Emanuel, Pina Yoelli, Daudi and Erasmus all made me feel so welcome and it all began to settle and feel more familiar. The guest house is great, Theresa has made it such a home from home and Pina’s cooking is fabulous. All these positive first impressions and I hadn’t even met the children yet! Travelling through breathtaking mountain scenery we arrived at the orphanage. I was unprepared for the overwhelming welcome and the spirit of the children that shone through as soon as they spoke. Each one in turn stood up and introduced themselves and were so positive and respectful it was a wonderful way to start to see the results of love and support they have received. I spent the evening getting to know them a little bit, Elliona showed me round and was a treat to be with, he made me laugh. I was able to watch how bright and alive the children are, just observing their interaction, their gratitude at the donations being handed out and their politeness as they waited to be offered individual gifts. What a leveling experience, thinking of many children who have so much and don’t fully appreciate how lucky they are, compared with the children at MAD who realize that someone has belief in them, wanting to help them have a future, they want to return that with their achievement. The way they have been ‘loved better’ by their House Mama’s Magdalena and Macrina, Mama Theresa and all the team at MAD, shines through as such an inspiration for so many reasons. It is hard to put into words the deep thoughts and reflections I have had so far this week, I have spent time with the children, some now on a one to one basis and seen their spirit shining through. Their stories leave footprints on my heart and my determination is to take the message back to the UK – I will never forget this life changing experience. Thank you Theresa and all the team at MAD for enabling it to be such an amazing all round trip. I take back the beautiful images of the region but most of all stories of positive results through love and hope. I leave part of my soul here to make sure I must return.
Anyone reading this who wonders what life is about, go spend time with the children and the MAD Team, it starts to become apparent.