The most important thing I take with me when I leave is the memory of all the good and friendly people I have met here. I can’t describe how much it meant to me, to be embraced (or hugged) by your warmth and kindness. There are so many people who have left an everlasting impression on my soul and who I will carry around in my heart - guys, you are kind of heavy ;)
First, there are Oili, Seppo, Mikko and Esko who made it so easy to feel at home in a new and strange place. Oili, always chatting friendly with everybody or playing with her dogs, Seppo, who has been established as a bear, who might growl sometimes but always means well with his cubs. Mikko – you could once in your lifetime let go of the rope! Esko - please don’t be afraid of the thunderstorms in rain season - I promise you they won’t get you.
Then of course there have been all the other lovely volunteers from Finland, who were going more or less through the same experience as me. Satu, who arrived with me and was the best person I could ever imagine to share these experiences together – whether it was eating Sadza, teaching Geography or having a Sport’s Day. Then there are Jenni, who always made us laugh and Sara with her beautiful voice and musical talent, which she so generously shared with everybody. Of course we can neither forget Simon, the poor guy who had to work with four females as his partners. He will be remembered for his love of nature and especially birds and unforgettable “mottorisahalla menän metsän jokes”. Let’s also remember all the lovely helpers, who I only met for a short time: happy Bo, the great Seinäjoki teachers, knowledgable Prof. Olavi Lukanen, nice Hanna and experienced Jussi.
Even more important are all the Zimbabweans at Dzikwa, who taught me so much about their culture. First in the office you can find Levita, who has the most amazing memory ever when it comes to the names of the children, their family situation and their home address. Edina, who is a social worker and kind of the right hand of Levita, while Tatenda is the left hand and a student on attachment for Development Studies. Both of them are really lovely and have taught me so much about how life is in Zimbabwe for a youngster. Then there are so many others whole-heartedly engaged in Dzikwa: Priscilla, I have no clue how she fits 30 hours into the day, Assan, our loyal accountant, Farai, the “rejoicing” assistant IT teacher, Tinotenda, our nutrition specialist, Alouise, who is not only a great teacher but also organizes the culture club and benefits in both through his eloquence. Neither can I forget our five lovely kitchen ladies (Karuwa, Shingirayi, Beauty, Yeukai and Stella ), our brave cleaning staff(Belta, Albert and Linda), our creative culture club teachers (Takawira, Samudan and Michek) and our watchful guards(Pardon, Jimmy, David and Ronald). All of them have unique characters and will be remembered.
I have already told you about all my great Shelter mates, but I still want to mention them here once more, because they are the ones I shared my daily ups and downs with. First of all there is our Shelter Mom, Nyaradzai – I miss even the moments when she called me “special”. Edina, so lively and funny, Tonderai, more thoughtful and observing, Bless - ing joking around the house. Happy Rachel, whom I have to say I admire very much, “Mother” Theresa, who was always there for me to accompany me to the shops, and Bridget, who doesn’t miss me at all, even though I miss her terribly. Letwin and Michelle with their beautiful voices – I wish I could hear them now or simply be spending time with them. And finally Joyline - our little Joy – who initially shy, warmed up to us and was a great playing companion. Of course, there were also other regular visitors, mainly friends of Joyline: entertaining and cute Ropafadzo, Nomsa with her huge smile under her hoodie, my “sisters” Talent and Nyasha.
At the Center there were so many other faces, names and personalities, who would take too much time to describe. I am just going to give you a few, but be assured that just because they get into this blog, everybody else whom I can’t mention also owns also a piece of my heart. Let’s start with little acrobatic and extremely talented Betsy and her loyal friend Rachel(Radzschii).
In Primary School: Cute Spale, brave Loveness, cheeky Ever, sharp-witted Patrick, affectionate Lucy, pretty Hazel, opposite-to-everything-she-is-told Charlene, always-there Tabeth, open-hearted Munashe, the quick-witted twins Tamsanq and Spiwie + their smaller brother Tinotenda, high-voiced Progress, dancing Lilly, Tanyaradzwa, Ruvarashe, Rutendo, whose name I never could pronounce correctly, Charmaigne, who improved incredibly, Tinotenda, the drama-queen, and Agnes, cheeky in her own right, Plaxcedes with her beautiful smile and cool new earrings, Amanda, Lianah, Mercy, Leah, Nancy, Isabel, Hazel, Chantel and Charmaigne, sincere Thandiwe, great at Maths Mitchel, Russel, smiling Trish, Tanyaradzwa, welcoming Shamiso, Nyasha, who will always remind me of a brave lioness, quiet but still trying to do her best Norma, always making fun Courage(I … don’t know), Isheanesu, who had to move while I was there, mischievious Munashe and Takudzwa, provoking, but warm-hearted teenage friends Melissa and Gladys.
Tinotenda and me
From Secondary School I particularly remember lovely and very thoughtful Moilah, who wrote me the most beautiful goodbye letter, so very happy Precious, really nice and musical Tawanda and Edwin, quiet and intelligent Ramus, chatty Natasha, Lucia, Nelyssa, Kundainashe, Moreblessing, Norvella, Chido, Emily, sporty Chantelle, Moreblessing, who lives up to her name, Thelma, who is like a flower starting to bloom, funny Michelle(and I am hundred percent sure that is your name!), Sharmaigne Muriva, the most eloquent person I met in Zim, Dassy, Locinda-e, who I mixed up one too many times, Mitchel with her new self-belief, Samantha, anxious Nobuhle, Lynnet, the poet. I neither can forget Munyaradzi, Wisemen, Tafadza, clever Quinton, Tendai, Takudzwa, Glory and especially Bishop, Samuel, Gibson and Zvidzai whose names I finally got right.
Satu, Antioch and me
A totally different group of “Zimbabweans” are the Finnish Society of Harare, whom I got to know more or less. Definitely more I learnt to know was Larry, who gave so much of his time to Dzikwa and also to us volunteers - as a driver, guide, barbecue master, extra hand unpacking the container and so much more; not to forget his dog Heinz(named after the Ketchup!). Then there is Virva, who once started as a volunteer like me and now has been living many years in the warmth of Zimbabwe and is even married to a Zimbabwean. Although she has a household to do and no car, she often came to support us with our projects especially when it concerned our precious environment. Kaisa was the one who gave me so many hints how to cope with my gluten allergy in Zimbabwe and has been travelling all around Southern Africa to look after the sick as the responsible Red Cross member for this area. Not so well I got to know Hasse, the Palestinian embassador, who however has strong ties to Finland, and Tertuu.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL TIME IN ZIMBABWE. WITHOUT ANYONE OF YOU IT WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN THE SAME FOR ME. I MISS YOU ALL LIKE CRAZY AND WISH THAT I WERE THERE WITH YOU. YOU ALL LIVE FURTHER ON IN MY HEART.
ALL MY LOVE RUVA