My name is Jorge Zapatero, and I am going to tell you about my experience in Tanzania at the NGO “Born to Learn”. After completing my sports-related studies at the age of 20, I decided to take half a year off to volunteer and discover other country. I contacted Samantha Peñalver, who always will be “Mama Sam” for me. She explained me everything about the project she built in a town near the city of Moshi, and I instantly loved it. What caught my attention the most was the way she described Born to Learn, with passion, tremendous vocation, and an incredible desire to help. Without thinking twice, I jumped on a plane to start a journey that would last for six months.
What I loved the most from the NGO was the focus on expanding and improving the sportive activities. My job was based on helping the teachers with different resources and activities in order to provide the students with the ability and competences to develop their sportive skills further. In fact, students can choose between a variety of sports, as Born to Learn offers extracurricular courses for Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball, Pingpong, and Athletics, as well as playful activities. Aside from representing a fundamental aspect of their personal growth, they enjoy playing and always desire to learn new sports. Furthermore, my volunteering experience was not only focused on sports, but I contributed to much more: gardening, painting, construction, with the teachers’ classes … whatever was necessary.
Having volunteered with an NGO like Born to Learn was a pleasure. During my time there, I learned that every action is well thought out and everyone who works there gives everything from their heart. Indeed, all the teachers, gardeners, cookers, and local builders who make all this possible welcomed me from the beginning in a very special way and always made me feel super comfortable.
Personally, I believe that the organization is outstanding. There is constant attention and care towards all the people working in the NGO, and all of this is thanks to Samantha who, with love and patience, is the main force behind the amazing work that is being done there. Aside from this, she makes everyone who passes by feel at home, and will always give you good advice. This helped me feel more comfortable to move around other parts of Tanzania, ultimately meeting amazing people.
When I met Samantha she told me something I would never forget, “Even with the little you do, you make a big difference”. However, after six months, when I left, other words come to my head: “All help is not enough if we want to change the world.” Despite having helped as much as I could, I went away with the feeling that I wanted to keep doing this in my life, and one day I will go back to Born to Learn and keep contributing with as much as I can.
I will always be grateful to Born to Learn for giving me this life-changing opportunity. And will always remember: “Every action counts to make a difference”.