The Daily Life of a Family Volunteering at Neema Village
The Daily Life of a Family Volunteering at Neema Village
Ever wondered what it could be like for your family to volunteer at Neema? Let Tammy Burns from Bastrop,Texas tell you:·
As Christmas 2018 was approaching, our family (Ed, Tammy, Nathan, and Denise Burns) were eagerly preparing for our trip to Neema Village in Arusha, Tanzania.
Our flight out of Houston left on December 27 and we arrived on December 28 and were warmly welcomed by Neema Village staff at the airport. After an hour drive from the airport we arrived at Neema and, exhausted, immediately went to bed. We woke up on Saturday morning to the beautiful and breathtaking view that is Neema Village. All those that stay and work at Neema get to enjoy this beauty from God every day. God is amazing!
Safina, the cook at the volunteer house always has a wonderful breakfast of biscuits and gravy, or pancakes, or French toast ready for the volunteers to enjoy.
Our first day Dorris gave us a tour and we got to see the homes where the children live, the vegetable garden, the flower garden, the chickens and cows, and the new Mothers Against Poverty home. The large vegetable garden is producing food for Neema Village to use, and they are getting large supplies of milk from the cows, as well as many eggs from the chickens. Fifty-five Tanzanians work here and keep everything running smoothly, which is so wonderful to see. Those are beautiful strawberry plants Tammy and Ramah are checking out below.
We got to spend a good part of the day playing with the children. What a treat for us! The children love to spend time with the volunteers, and we love to be with them, as well.
Late in the afternoon on our first day, we had a concert by our son Nathan Burns and McKenna Walton, another volunteer here at the time. All the children and nannies attended the concert which included violin and guitar music. Mckenna is a yodeling performer and Nathan plays the violin. Surprisingly it went together very well. The children were entranced by the beautiful sounding instruments. They had never seen a violin before. After Nathan and McKenna played, the nannies led us in some Swahili songs which was so beautiful. Another day the whole family got to play and sing with the children.
On Sunday, we attended a Tanzanian church and took a number of the older children with us, and we had the privilege of worshiping God in another culture. The Tanzanians LOVE music and LOVE to sing!! After church, Dorris and Michael took all of us out for lunch, and we had a great time of fellowship. Later in the day, we spent several more hours holding babies and playing with the older children.
Monday, we did a craft with the children ages 3-6 with some craft supplies that we had brought along with us. It was so much fun to watch the children working with the beads, and they were so proud of their work. We spent some time in the garden, picking vegetables and transplanting some plants. There is such a variety of things to participate in here at Neema Village. That is Mercy with stars on her head below, or is that identical twin Mary??
Tuesday, we watched Sophia teach music class to the children ages 3-6, while the toddlers observed and the volunteers held babies. Music is such a big part of the culture here in Tanzania. Tuesday was New Year’s Day, so some of the workers were barbecuing a goat. We had a fun lunch in town instead, but when we arrived home to play with the kids, we stopped in the kitchen and had a sample of the goat meat. It was delicious. So many great cultural experiences!! That is Bryan, an abandoned baby pictured below with Tammy.
During the rest of the week, we spent time leading Bible time with some of the children, feeding the babies, asking children to teach us some Swahili, visiting with nannies, getting to know some of the other workers here, playing on the playground with the children, reading books to our assigned children, eating meals with Dorris and Michael, getting to know their daughter Bekah, eating African food made by the cooks, doing a little gardening, putting babies to bed, and taking kids swimming in a local pool on Friday. On Thursday, Ed and Nathan joined Safina in the weekly trip to the market to purchase the large amounts of food needed to feed all the workers and children here. Wow! It was amazing to watch all that goes on in bartering and purchasing all the food and supplies.
Friday we went on a safari to Tarangire National Park and saw so many different kinds of animals and birds, including a lion chase of a wart hog. There were lots of elephants!
On Saturday we took Malikia to her school for the blind in Moshi, where she attends several semesters every year. It was good to see that she was happy to be there and to start school again. She, of course, sang for us almost the whole way there!
On the way home from Moshi, we took an adventurous ride through some villages in a couple of tuk tuks, an unsafe cloth covered tricycle of sorts. We swam at Magi Moto (Hot Water), a pond fed by a thermal spring, which was quite refreshing on a hot day.
On another day, we journeyed a couple of hours out to a Maasai village to pick up Joshua, one of the Neema babies grown up now and attending school in Arusha. What a privilege to spend an hour in a Maasai village, where they welcomed us and showed us around their homes and their chicken business which Neema helped begin for them. We were excited to hear that they are now making money from selling eggs!
Before we left the women wanted to pray for Joshua and for Neema Village. It was so touching to hear these women who have so little thank God for their lives and see the impact Neema Village is making on so many lives.
As we prepare to leave in a couple of days, we know we will miss this place, where there is so much love, constant activity and fun times! It will be hard to leave.
The Burns Family has promised to return, we will hold them to it!! Love you guys!