I started attending boarding school at the age of eleven and since then have never lived home full-time. Unlike most kids (I think) and against my parents’ wishes (I know), I made up my mind already at such a young age that I wanted to live far from home, not for the sake of distance, but because I truly am an explorer at heart.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the explorer in me was stranded. Suddenly, my apartment became the place I worked, ate, exercised, prayed, cooked, slept, socialised via virtual meets etc. Admittedly, the beginning was very difficult and unfortunately for me it got worse. The pandemic also took my dear mother on the 28th of June, 2021 and with that I gained the bitter title of “orphan”.
The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) estimates that there are over 153 million children in the world who are orphans. That’s 153 million human beings under the age of 18 who are in most cases living in sub-par conditions, are deprived of parental care, and have uncertain futures.
Through an initiative pioneered and organised by my sister to help support orphans in Tanzania, I met 41 young orphans on 17th October 2021 in Tandale, a neighbourhood in Dar es Salaam. Up until then, most of my days since I lost my mother in June were blurry and the hard truth was that life as I knew it was never going to be the same. It turns out that 41 children who share the orphan title with me were exactly who I needed to gain some perspective on life, loss, death, and survival. I gained so much by visiting these kids and their caretakers in their home and in this article, I wanted to share the top three life values and beliefs I was reminded of during our visit.
When my sister called at 5am on June 28th to let me know that our mother had lost the battle against the COVID-19 delta variant, I felt a lot of emotions but gratitude was not one of them. I flew to Tanzania that evening for her funeral and was sobbing during the entire 16 hr journey. Trying to imagine what it would be like to enter my mother’s house without her in it was unbearably painful. Individually and as a family, we received an overwhelming amount of support but I deeply wished that the reason everyone was reaching out didn’t exist in the first place. In all honesty…