The Mount Kilimanjaro first aid community programme logo
The Mount Kilimanjaro first aid community programme logo

Hello, my name is Elaine Anderson and I have been a volunteer with Mount Kilimanjaro First Aid Community Program for over 18 months

During which time I have been given amazing opportunities both in my local district (West Lothian / Edinburgh) as well as in the North East of England and while travelling to Africa. My initial interest in MKFACP was captured by examples of the work done over seas in previous years and the ethos of the organisation to involve both youths from the UK and allow them to gain skills - many gained in my case are lifelong skills - with the intention to pass these on.

As a keen learner I embraced many opportunities presented to me through the organisation; the first which stands out in my memory was performing live (vocal & guitar) and being interviewed on a district wide broadcasting radio station, this certainly gave me a mass of confidence and an insight to the complexity behind the scenes of a radio show. I've also been involved in the organisation of several fundraisers, some of which I've been the main organiser for and others when I've supported members in the organisation; these have taught me lessons about my own organisation and successful time management to assure everything runs smooth and also about the risk of relying on others who may let me down, so always to have a back-up plan. As well as this I have a broader understanding of advertising strategies and how the type of event may affect which is the best strategy, due to comparing my events which have been successful to my others that were not so successful.

Part of me thought that by the time I reached Africa I'd done the hardest part by fundraising; but this was a clear naivety. Looking back at my journal entries during my time there I wrote early on about 'the truly surreal experiences I can tell I'm going to have', and I was right. Even just walking or driving for a mile in any direction it was heart breaking the sights and poverty surrounding me but even more so to see that they appreciated anything and everything they had, no matter how little. My first few days at the orphanage had a similar effect; the realisation of the circumstances they lived in, the lack of space, lack of clothes, lack of food and lack of hygiene as well as seeing them laughing and playing when we gave them the attention they craved made me really appreciate the life I have in the UK and the people I have around me. I wrote at the time that I was 'so overwhelmed to see the children older and younger being so keen and working together'. As soon as I was stood in the orphanage I truly understood why we were there, why the sustainable food program was of such importance and why they appreciated every second of our time spent with them. Even while coaching as part of the football program I saw the excitement every morning and afternoon as the groups of boys eagerly participated in the games and training drills that we used to pass our skills over to them. This was one of the biggest challenges I've faced as I was faced with a language barrier which caused me to alter my knowledge and experience to simplify the instructions for each activity, (though the children were keen to help me with useful Swahili words). This was a challenging experience with a positive outcome and despite reading over my memories of harder times, (such as realising while distributing new school uniforms to the children that there may not be enough for everyone to receive something) I doesn't stop me knowing the difference we made over there and that the program will continue to do just that.

When I returned from Africa I was desperate to continue volunteering and be more involved with the humanitarian work taking place in the UK. I was asked to take on the role of team leader for one of the 2012 groups which I feel has probably provided me the more skills than any other aspect in my life. Working with individuals both older and younger has allowed me to face several difference challenges and given me the responsibility to help guide them through their own challenges. I've become more aware of communication skills, some which I myself lacked and have now gained and others which I know I still need to work on, and understanding other people's views while trying to guide them. I've enjoyed the responsibility and delegating tasks and challenges mainly because it has allowed me to watch the progression of individuals from being shy and fearful of having their say, to knowing their message and making sure their voices are heard. This sort of experience has been gained through the out-reach work I have been involved with in the Edinburgh area with two of our volunteers from disadvantaged backgrounds. Both individuals were very negative about their abilities at the beginning, especially when challenged to give a presentation to various groups in their communities.

But even simple things like taking them into a university environment within the first few weeks to practice their presentation made me noticed an extreme difference in their attitudes towards the task and towards their self-belief. They gave their presentation at a local brownies group and then worked with the young girls decorating soap to support the project's soap-for-soap campaign. By the end of that night they were even excited and looking forward to be doing presentations with school groups and even began arranging their own additional presentations. Facilitating various challenges like this and watching them succeed has made me feel like I have succeeded and made me proud to be part of this organisation.

Though I've had an amazing journey so far I know there is much more to come and many more people to meet. Travelling with the organisation again this year I hope to see a big development in the football programme which I enjoyed being part of last year, and to continue to learn more of the local language to make this easier and more enjoyable for the children. Mainly, I look forward to seeing the work I've done this year with the group from the UK pay off and see those going out to Africa for the first time enjoy themselves even half as much as I did last year.

Eliie helping Eliie with school african child Eliie with group of boys after playing football Eliie with a group of children
UK Co-Ordinator - Christina Wren - tel: (UK +44) 01506882165 - e-mail: info@kilimanjarofirstaidcommunityprogram.com

Mount Kilimanjaro First Aid Community Programme is an international humanitarian organisation (non Profit making) community interest Company SC Reg No: 418956 a company limited by guarantee. Working jointly with a number of other charities and organisations such as; Mount Kilimanjaro School a non profit making organisation in Tanzania Registration no: 22993 and Newlands orphanage. Helping to support Broom House Young Carers a Reg Charity No: SC003706 a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No: 320027 which is a charity held very close to our hearts we will be supporting this year. This e-mail and any of its attachments is considered to be confidential. It is intended solely for the addresses or named people mentioned either on the e-mail address or within the contents of the e-mail. If you are not an intended recipient, any use, copy or diffusion, even partial of this message is prohibited. Please delete it and notify Mount Kilimanjaro First Aid Community Programme immediately: christina@kilimanjarofirstaidcommunityprogram.com