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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie


 Travel Diary : Volunteering in Africa

Travelling by hitch-hiking, this is in a big part receiving help. Having travelled from France to Tanzania by this way of travelling, I have received a great dose of daily help and solidarity for the last 10 months.

While I arrived in the Hisani orphanage in Mwanza in Tanzania, originally to spend only one night, the idea came to me as: "And if myself also, I was bringing a little bit my help?" 

I finally took my decision; I will stay for 1 month in this orphanage to give as help as I can to the children. On top of having a break in my trip, my goal here is to understand better the system of an African community and to give a hand if possible. 

The orphanage of Hisani was created to try to solve a little bit the problem of the AIDS orphans. Indeed, Tanzania, like his African neighbours, got touched by the storm called AIDS. The thing is that today, a lot of the children lost their parents because of this terrible sickness. A sad statistic from the Boonabaana Centre for Children's Right in Dar es Salaam said that there are today more than 1 million of AIDS orphans. 

What is AIDS?


Nowadays we hear a lot about Aids but there are still a lot of people who are confused about this terrible sickness. Aids is an illness which can be catch by different ways which the mains are:

By the blood (so a straight transmission of the virus in the blood system of the victim: with a syringe for example)

By sexual way (a sexual relation without condom can lead to a contamination) 

Aids is a virus which is destroying our immunology system little by little. Our immunology system is composed by white globules which have the main activity to fight the viruses constantly coming in our body (it is possible to have a virus in our body without even feeling the symptoms because our white globules will have fight this same virus).

The problem with Aids, this is that this virus is killing our white globules. In another way, he is destroying what is supposed to destroy the viruses. Once all the white globules are destroyed, the body has no more immunology system and can catch all the sickness without being able to cure. 

Aids is a sickness which is still unable to cure of. There is no medicine to cure Aids even if some are slowing the process. However, it is possible to have a perfectly normal life if we follow the treatment regularly and precisely. 

I had the opportunity to make a free HIV-AIDS test in a little village called Lukobe, which is close to the Hisani orphanage in Mwanza. A group of Canadians volunteers and donators organized this event to mainly inform and prevent the population of this little village. 

While this event, I have done the HIV-AIDS test.


On 300 people tested, almost 20 were positives. This make an average of 6,5% of positive people. In France for example, this percentage is around 1%. If you compare with South Africa, you obtain the scary percentage of 20%. 


The life in the orphanage 

85 children are living today in Hisani. The youngest is 3 years old and the oldest is 16. When I arrived, only 2 people were working there with one volunteer.

Once again, the problem in Africa is the number of children. Indeed, a family has an average of 10 children; you can imagine the difficulties coming from this fact... Let's take the example of the education: the orphans of Hisani are going to school from Monday to Friday. In the class of standard 4, the teacher has to face a class of 140 pupils!!! 

One of my missions in the orphanage was to give some lessons in English and Mathematics. 

Here I am as teacher in the orphanage


By the way, I took the opportunity to make a little explanation of my travel. A little bit of geography added to Mathematics and English, that can't be bad! 



As a « teacher » if I can say that, my work was also to check the homework of the children. Indeed, the organization being like that, after diner, I could see each of the 85 children coming to show me their book. 


Her I am as teacher... never stopping!



So many children with so few staff, that has to work with a special organization. The main thing which attracted my interest was that the young were very autonomous. The children clean their own clothes, they wash their own dishes, they go alone to school, the oldest prepare the food for the youngest... 

The organization of the meals 

The funds of the orphanage are only coming from donations, mainly from Europe and North America. In this fact, the spending is on its minimum. The question can be asked: how to deal with the natural needs of the children which are: sleeping, drinking and eating?



The orphanage had built, thanks to donations, two dormitories: one for the girls, one for the boys.

The beds are all protected with mosquito nets to prevent malaria. The malaria is an illness very dangerous in this area and which can get caught by the biting of some mosquitoes. 


The young are drinking water. This if of course water from the tap because it is simply unthinkable to buy bottles for each of the 85 children of Hisani.



Certainly the most difficult problem. The organization of the meals leads to some very interesting situations. The goal of the meals is to give enough strength to the orphans while having the lowest cost.

Indeed, the morning, the young are drinking porridge. For lunch and diner, the meals are a mix of Ugali (you have a picture of Ugali in the newsletter about Kenya) with beans or dried fish.

The fish is a donation of a governmental program. This one is delivering plain fishes.


The children are cleaning the fishes and are taking off the bones to make filets.


Then they are drying those fishes under the fire to keep then longer.



To finish, the big distribution, everyone queuing quietly!



On Sundays, anyway, the Ugali is replaced by rice, because this one is more appreciated by the children but also more expensive. 


Before going back on the road


Sundays is the resting day. There is no obligation to do for the children (maybe except to prepare the food of course). That can be the good moment for the youth to watch some television or to make some sport.

That was a good idea because this day was the last days of the Olympic Games. To connect the children with the realities of the globalization but mostly to entertain them, I and one German volunteer having organized mini-Olympic games. 

We had a nice and cool day watching the efforts of our Olympics champions: 

- While the international competition of dodge ball



 - Then the so stressful running event



- Without forgetting the concentration leading to the throw of the... throwing competition


My stay of 1 month is coming to the end. Time arrived for me to come back on the road to discover a little bit more of what is our so interesting world.


I tried to share a maximum of my good mood with the children and to give them some message of peace and solidarity. I have also learned a lot from them... Indeed, those children have so few that they know to appreciate every little thing we can give them. 

"Is richness making the happiness?" are we asking so often.

I don't know, but what I learned is that the absence of richness make that this one is appreciated very differently: we can find it in social relations. 

All the orphanage for a family portrait


See you soon for an explanation of Tanzania 



Info: update 2012
A friend that I met in Hisani in 2007, involved many years with this orphanage updated me about the current situation of the orphanage. In consequence, I don't advice you to send your donations there anymore.
If you want to know more, there is a blog about this subject:

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