A volunteer posed this question to me during orientation one day and it got me thinking. Because when you return from volunteering overseas everyone wants to know what is like, volunteering and living in Africa. I figure it’s because volunteering overseas in an orphanage or school may be on a lot of peoples bucket list, but few people actually commit to do it. There’s 100’s of question you’ll get asked when you return from a trip volunteering overseas, especially when you return from Africa. People want to know if the poverty and devastation and starvation are all real or just embellished on the news and other media outlets.
But yes, yes it is all 100% real. Which I guess is why my most asked question when I return is:
Does the poverty you see, and the children you meet who are orphans make you depressed?
The answer isn’t a far stretch from a “yes” but what I see and experience I will never let affect me to a point where I break down and hide away from the world in my bedroom. There no denying it’s really sad, meeting kids who haven’t eaten for two days or whole familes living on the streets. Children who have lost both parents due to the HIV/aids epidemic.
I remember walking myself from one orphanage to another in Fort Portal, west Uganda and came across some school girls who had finished school for the day. I had my bottle of water with me. These girls ran up to me, got on their knees, and in front of my own eyes begged to have a sip of my water. I just couldn’t believe it. 6 teenage girls begging for some water. What kind of world do we live in where there’s humans begging for water? One of the girls told me they had never had WATER FROM A BOTTLE before. Never had water from a bottle before. Let that just sink in.
For me the stories I hear from orphans, the families I meet, the communities I work in push me every time I’m there to leave this world, the orphans, families and communities in a much better state. To do anything in my power to help them out of destitute and to a place where they are self-reliant, managing and stable.
Working in poverty, with orphans and vulnerable communities has never made me depressed but has really done the opposite. I return home completely full of life, I have full knowledge of who I am, what my purpose here on earth is and almost have a new perspective on life itself. I return with an understanding of what it means to be human, and to be apart of a community, family and civilisation. Any depression I return home with is replaced with kindness, compassion and empathy for others. But most importantly, I return with a drive to have and create a positive impact on humanity.