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Ed Holden with children from Amani Centre
Ed Holden with children from Amani Centr

Volunteering for the Amani Project

by Ed Holden and Ben Ferrar
Ed and Ben spent last Christmas in Tanzania, helping out on the Amani charity project. Ed has been there before and was so moved by the work that he persuaded Ben to come along with him this time. The experience was life changing for them both.

Title: Volunteering at the Amani Centre
 Watch Ed and Ben's film
Film maker:Ed Holden and Ben Ferrar
Date:March 2007
Subject:volunteering, tanzania, disability, discrimination, charity, young people

Ed Holden and Ben Ferrar spent three weeks at the Amani Centre For Persons With Mental Disabilities in Morogoro, Tanzania, during Christmas 2006.

"Living in the Amani Centre is amazing," said Ed.

"From the moment you arrive in the gates, you're greeted by all these children who are singing, clapping and smiling.

"They're so interested in everything that you do, from putting on sun cream, playing with bubbles.

"It's opened my eyes to the extraordinarily difficult lives that some people live in this world, and it's made me appreciate the things in life that I have.

Ben Ferrar with local people at  the Amani centre
Ben Ferrar at the Amani Centre

"Absolutely no guilt whatsoever, just pure appreciation for what I have around me," he added.

Ed and Ben started their experience at the home of a 16-year-old Charles, a boy who has severe mental and physical disabilities.

In many case, children like this face rejection from their families due to the stigma of any disabilities.

"He's the oldest of five kids and the way he's treated by his mother... as we arrived he was tied up inside his house which is a mud hut," said Ben.

"He's malnourished, he eats the mud walls of the hut and sleeps on a wooden bed.

"It's very difficult to see this sort of poverty, especially poverty caused by a family, his own mother," he added.

While the issues can't always be solved with cold hard cash, in this instance Ben and Ed were able to at least help a little.

"We provided some money for the family to build a new house so that he could have a solid roof over his head," said Ed.

"But at the end of the day, what he needs is love from his mother - but she won't give it to him," he added.

Ben and Ed's experience in Tanzania has seen them re-evaluate how they look at their own life back in Norfolk.

"The day after we got back," said Ben, "I had to go and hire something for a party.

"Just driving through the centre of the city seeing all those shops and brand names and the glum looking people .... I felt so unhappy.

"It was such a hugely different place to Morogoro Town, where you walk down the street and everyone says 'Hi, how are you?', 'Hey white man!'. And there are no big brand names or bright lights, basically no money everywhere," he added.

"It's a bit of a joke that we have such petty quibbles and concerns in our lives here, little things frustrate us and it's nothing compared to what people have to live with out there, said Ed.

"I've just thought of the thing we liked most about Tanzania," interrupts Ben.

Mama Bhakita, Amani Centre founder
Mama Bhakita, Amani Centre founder

"The one saying that they use all the time, which I'm going to use so much now that I'm back in England is 'in time'. Everything will be done 'in time'," he said.

"We'd always ask, 'What time are we going to do this?' and they'd say 'in time, baddai' [they laugh].

"It's because they don't live by the clock, " he added.

The Amani Centre

  • The Amani Centre For Persons With Mental Disabilities is based in Morogoro, Tanzania.
  • It offers mentally disabled children a place to receive a basic education.
  • In Tanzania, there appears to be much stigma attached to disability, with the disabled often facing discrimination.  Families tend to live isolated lives, and suffer much humiliation.
  • This was what prompted Josephine Bakhita, a former social worker and mother of a mentally and physically disabled son, to develop the Amani project in the 1990s.
  • The Amani Centre now has a large multi-purpose hall and classroom, which provides  day care for more than 40 children. It also has several offices for the community workers and in the future they hope to install a physiotherapy unit.
  • The centre requires more funds to continue its work with the disabled children of the region.
last updated: 04/06/08
Have Your Say
What did you think of Ben and Ed's life changing story? Tell us your thoughts on this film.
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Liz Walker, Midgavin OOS, Beith Road, Howwood. PA9
I logged on to this link because our OOS children were looking for a fund raising project. We heard that one of the youngsters from our local high school was looking for sponsorship to go to Tanzania and our Out of School children decided they wanted to get involved. We are planning a stall at the local fete in June to raise money but when I viewed your story, I cried. Oh boy,our children have everything, don't they but some have so little. Our children want to create a link with the Amani Centre and exchange photos and news. Parents have offered to help us with the fete and so the net widens!

I'm heading out to the Amani Centre next June and I found this film very inspiring, thankyou!

Erick Kabendera
As a journalist, i visited Amani Centre last December when Ed and Ben were there and did a story about a family of four mentally reatrded children. The story was so moving such that i decided to write more on such children but the government of Tanzania should do research to find out why such cases are rampant in Morogoro than anywhere else.

tony finon
Joanna forwarded me your video, sometimes it by chance that our eyes are opened,true understanding is to feel what you see . The next step is the wonder and changes that you make occur. well done

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