By Rupati Pius Makoi (YES 2012-13, Tanzania, hosted by CIEE in Indianapolis, IN)
My YES exchange year brought the biggest impact in my life and everyone around me in various significant ways. Life in the U.S. taught me to give time to the ones you love and encourage everyone to do better no matter what. Since my return, I have engaged myself in helping orphanage centers by educating young scholars, sharing leadership ideology with them, and encouraging them to be part of the change. I have also worked to united different organizations in Tanzania to build a team of impactful changemakers.
My favorite project as a YES alumnus has been the project working with orphanages. The statistics in Tanzania shows that there are close to 2 million orphans in our country due to different causes. Most of these kids have the ideology that they need only to be given and not to give back. Unfortunately without proper guidance and mentorship, they tend to make bad decisions instead of making right choices. With the help of fellow alumni and friends, we organized different events like reading sessions with them, cleaning the streets, and beach cleaning together as part of showing them that they can provide for their community no matter who they are. I am so happy that each day now, they came up with ideas and dreams of where to go next. My wish is to reach out to other orphans as much as I can also.
Being involved in this project made me see great changes in my community as many community members didn't know how to start to help those in need due to negative perception that in order to help, one needs to be rich. In fact, I believe that helping your community is an act of maturity and love for the ones around you. And when everyone can see how some people can join hands to create grassroots change, many more people are interested in joining and helping their communities in one way or another.
Seeing people smile and being able to make a change in them is what inspires me to do more and more projects. This is because my exchange year in the United States showed me how people are helping their communities through self-initiative and without being told by anyone from the outside. They believed that change comes from within and also that with love and dedication, any problem can be dealt with.
One of my greatest successes is to be able to collect 700 books that were provided to the orphanage centers in Dar-es-Salaam and also trying to work on getting health insurance for the orphans. This is after learning about a sad story of a boy called Mwinyi who passed away recently due to lack of funds to treat him. I believe that if each kid will get insurance under the NGO then we will be able to monitor their health and be able to help in one way or another. If we do not create change in our society, then no one else will. As the Bible says: “Kindness to the poor is a loan to the Lord and he will give a reward to the lender” (19:17).