Why on my way to Tanzania?

“Volunteering to teach children abroad is a powerful way to effect entire communities. Many of the students you’ll encounter come from families who can’t afford the tuition commonly required for quality education. Make a difference by offering attention and support to students who have few opportunities for special one-on-one connections. In an over-crowded classroom, you can be a role model for children and provide inspiration to local educators.
150 students attend the nursery school, and are placed in 3 classrooms with a total of 3 teachers.”

This is part of the mission description I got from Cross Cultural Solutions just 1,5 week before I leave to Tanzania. Finally I know what my work is going to be there. I am a happy man as teaching to children was my first preference when I subscribed to the volunteer program and I also listed working with HIV infected people but as a 2nd preference.

Certain choices and circumstances in my life have made that I don’t have children of my own. This definetely did not hinder me to love children and to give to those in my surrounding all my attention and affection. So by not having raised any young children it is clear that teaching them will be completely out of my comfort zone and that is exactly the challenge that I am looking for. I have teaching experience to (very motivated) adults during evening school but I very much doubt if that experience will come of use working with very young children :-).

So why volunteering for Africa and using my Holidays not to relax somewhere but to help other people & children abroad who are not as fortunate as you and me? Multiple reasons actually but let me focus on the most important ones.

Every year I am donating money to organisations like Unicef and Médecins sans Frontières and instead of just easily transferring money I want to do more, to invest myself, to commit to help other people in person. Try to make a difference myself. Give something much more valuable than money namely my support, my smile, my listening ear, my advice, my love….
On a personal level I want to learn and grow further as well. I am convinced that this volunteer experience will be so enriching that it will open my eyes for things that I perhaps don’t notice or experience in my daily life and will teach me things for life.

Last year I lost my brother Mike who was so ill that he made the choice to ask to end his life as he did not had the strength to go on anymore. Less than four months after he was diagnosed with cancer our whole family was standing around his bed and I was holding his hand when the doctor terminated his life. Like that, in a couple of seconds… but it were seconds that lasted for hours, days and months for me.
Besides the enormous grief it gave me, it made me also questioning everything in life as I realized that today is ‘the’ moment and not tomorrow. Lots of questions that were not always that simple to answer.  But most of all it made me realize that you have to live ‘now’ as you never know how long it will last. In the back of our head we all know that but we hardly act upon it adequately.
Well I am doing that now, I got some good advice and I am off to Tanzania to help little children learn how to read and write in English, learn them basic mathematical skills like counting and addition and of course have lots of fun together with them.
I want to see many little smiley faces in front of me.



7 thoughts on “Why on my way to Tanzania?

  1. We hope you will find there what you are looking for Olaf. You will meet some fantastic people, children and amazing nature. For sure it will be rich in relationship and culture, totally something else. By experience, we are sure that something will be different, deep in your heart, when you will be back. Enjoy it and share your experiences.


  2. What a great way to get to know you better and see what drives you. I wish you an amazing time and a life-changing experience. Hope it will create many dear memories that will stay with you throughout the years. Enjoy ever minute and take some of the smiles home with you!


  3. Inspiring words and thoughts, Olaf.
    Thank you for sharing! Enjoy the journey and experience. I am sure it will enrich your life. 🙂


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