Uhakika Kituo cha Ushauri Nasaha-(UKUN)
During the month of August, I volunteered in Tanzania with UKUN, a local non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Bagamoyo District outside Dar es Salaam which provides home-based care and educational outreach sessions to People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA) and Orphans & Vulnerable Children (OVC). At UKUN, I was given the opportunity to develop a nutrition grant designed to provide immediate hunger relief to 1300 clients and to educate clients on the benefits and aspects of a nutritious diet. As of September 2007, the proposal is in the process of being submitted to various donor organizations, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Volunteering with UKUN has been a very introspective experience. During the initial stages, I considered my time volunteering would merely help to develop an 'appreciation' of the African culture and customs related to health care in Tanzania. However, after participating in personal counseling sessions with victims of HIV/AIDS and educational meetings with UKUN, I started to re-asses the motives of my stay. I began to work on the nutrition grant, setting a definite goal of producing a workable draft for submission to donor organizations. During this effort, I utilized many of my skills and passions I employ as a college student-researching new and unique topics, multitasking, and remaining focused despite setbacks and delays. I hope that I have provided the necessary framework and foundation for future volunteers to continue the process and see that the proposal receives the necessary funding.
Perhaps the most important memories I carry from Tanzania are the stories-the stories of the victims of HIV/AIDS. Stories like those of Aisha, who had six children die from AIDS before discovering that she herself was HIV-positive, motivate me to continue striving to achieve my goals. It is my wish that, one day, I will return to serve the community that has shown me profound hospitality and shared with me invaluable wisdom.