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Review for FRIENDS OF AMANI US INC., Burnsville, MN, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I was a health volunteer at amani for 6 months and can honestly say that this organization changes the lives of hundreds of children. The children come to Amani from the street and are tired, hungry, sometimes drugged, weary of adults, and filthy...clothes that had once been white now gray and black with dirt, finger nails crusted with mud, skin with scrapes and bruises and covered in a layer of filth, and minds filled with horrific memories of things that I could never even imagine. After a few days at Amani these same children actually begin to look like normal kids again. They have clean clothes, skin, nails, a full belly and most importantly, smiles on their faces and caring, loving people surrounding them.
While having clean clothing, a bed, and love are essential, it will benefit the kids only in the moment. In addition to the necessary comforts the children also need tools that they can use to provide themselves with a future that does not involve life on the street. This is done through education. Amani puts every child living there through school, whether it be at Amani, so that the children can catch up with their age group after no schooling, or sending them to outside school during the day. After primary school, the children can then go on to secondary school, and this is where donors can truly make a huge impact on an individual life. While public schools are much cheaper, there are days where the children show up to class and no teacher ever comes, the education is just not as sufficient. Private schools are much more expensive but truly give the child a thorough and intriguing educational experience. Additionally, Amani generally wants a child to live either in boarding school or with a family member by the time they are in secondary school, because this allows the child to have a more "normal" part of childhood, and allows for new children to come in off the streets. There are situations where children who were top students get reunited with family and no longer attend school or start to do poorly in school. Ideally, these children would be sent to a boarding school, but, again, the cost is major limiting factor.
This is an area where donations and individual sponsors have the potential to drastically change the life of one child. If a child is given a good education they then have the tool they need to keep themselves off the streets for the rest of their life.
When I ask some of the kids what they want to do when they grow up or what they want to study some common answers are , "circus" "futbol" "teacher" "doctor" but the responses that really touch me the most are "help kids who grew up like I did" "help kids like the ones at amani" "social work to help kids like me".

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Seeing how just a little bit can do a whole lot for an individual child. Having one donor to pay for school, or one staff member who pays special attention to them, or being told that they are good kid and are doing well, truly makes a difference in their life. Visiting a year after I left and seeing how some of the most troubled and difficult children have changed and become more mature, responsible, and driven young adults in just a years time because of the dedication from staff, volunteers, & donors

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

While the description may make it seem like a pleasant place where all of this easy for everyone, each child has been through major traumatic and damaging experiences. I think employing a psych/counseling department would be of great benefit to the kids and also allow the social work and other staff more time to focus on what they specialize in while knowing that the psychological and emotional issues are being taken care of.

Would you volunteer for this group again?


For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?


What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

Cheaper flights to Tanzania :)

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

It effects me everyday. Not one day passes that I do not think about the kids or the staff that I worked with. I still keep in touch with some of the staff members and try to get updates on the kids. I was hoping to go to Amani and change or impact lives, as I think most people do when they go to volunteer somewhere. Turns out that while I did comfort the kids when they were sick and showed them that they were loved, they were the ones that ended up impacting me instead of the other way around. They taught me invaluable lessons and made me realize how much a person can get through as long as they are determined. Though very challenging and stressful at times, Amani was a wonderful place to volunteer and I would not have spent those 6 months any other way.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


Role:  Volunteer & Volunteer Health Assistant: Did exams on the kids when they came in from the streets. Took kids to clinic for blood work, managed their medications. Taught some health education classes, on hand and general hygiene. Adolescents and puberty. HIV/AIDS. T.