My wife Kaisa and I found out about Amani in 2007, when we were looking for a good project to support. Over the next years we followed Amani’s progress online and watched the organization grow. Some years later, we then decided to quit our jobs in business consulting and social media management, pack up our privileged lives in Switzerland and head out on a great adventure.
Once we arrived in Tanzania, we were immediately integrated into Amani’s community and quickly became friends with staff and kids alike. During the first two weeks, the lovely volunteer coordinator and professional giggle machine Salma guided us through a comprehensive introduction to this NGO’s many departments and activities, including a fascinating trip to the streets of Arusha, where most kids spend time before joining Amani.
Although many kids at Amani have faced hardships that most Westerners can barely imagine, they tend be extremely open and playful – and they carry a resilience and joy of life that is very inspiring and humbling. I spent an unforgettable 6 months with them, during which I held classes in Amani’s library, read stories with them, played reading & writing games, helped organize the eccentric Christmas Party, tried not to embarrass myself on the football pitch, introduced them to the world of Ultimate Frisbee, and hosted the first Amani Space Games with my fellow volunteers.
Working with the eclectic mix of volunteers – from Texas, Australia, Japan, Finland, and Holland – further enriched my experience at Amani. We worked as a team, supported each other, spent quality-time in Moshi’s delightful cafés and Indian restaurants, and shared a lot of laughs. All of us grew to love Amani, with its kids and all the dedicated staff, who work very hard to provide a good home, an education, nutritious food and health services. We also shared a fascination for Tanzania as a country with unparalleled nature – from the plains of the Serengeti, over the beautiful Usambara mountains, to the shores of Zanzibar – and fantastic, funny, and warm people.
Looking back at my experience, I feel very grateful that I was able to join Amani and get a glimpse into a life that was previously unknown to me. I miss this great organization and look forward to the day that I can revisit this place and refresh my fading Swahili skills. I recommend this experience to everyone and hope you find the courage to make the leap!