Honoring Volunteers, Near and Far

Sigga and a person in Tanzania

Meet Sigridur Ingibjorg Stefansdottir, or “Sigga” for short.

After graduating from university with a degree in Occupational Therapy, she traveled all the way from Iceland to work with the children of Building a Caring Community for six months. In the process, she volunteered in two of BCC’s centers and learned a great deal about BCC, herself, and working with children who have disabilities. Here are some of her thoughts about her experience in Moshi.

Favorite part of working in the centers: “Meeting the people and learning about what they have been doing with the children. I learned a lot of things I would never learn in Iceland because the situation in Moshi is so different. If you’re born in Iceland with a disability, you will have therapy right away. Some of the children [in Moshi] have only been in the center for two years, and they are ten years old, so they didn’t have anything for eight years. In the Pasua Center, my favorite experience was seeing how much the children had improved in two months.”

Best day: “At the Pasua Center, Mama Edna misplaced the keys to the center one day and we couldn’t get inside, so I said, ‘Hey, why don’t we walk around Pasua? There are a lot of things in Pasua that I haven’t seen.’ So we walked around with the children and they really loved it. They were showing me around the town and they were out in the community, meeting people and speaking with different people.”

Greatest achievement: “I took photos of every child at Moshi 2 Center and made a profile about them. I talked about their family, interests, diagnosis, personality, where they are from, how old they are, when they started in the center. I took two weeks to learn how their bodies are moving and what they are able to do and want to do, and then I made a plan. It is very simple to understand, so I think when you read it, you can understand it even if you don’t know a lot about disability.”

Advice for future volunteers: “I would tell them to ask about which disabilities the children have, and then read about them. Be willing to help, and if the mama doesn’t understand English, you can learn a few sentences in Swahili, or go to the BCC office and ask them for help.”

Learning curve: “As an occupational therapist, I learned a lot about how to work with children with disabilities. When they can’t tell me what’s wrong, I just have to look to find out. I also learned that you don’t even have to speak the same language to understand each other. You can still have a conversation. We still have a connection: I am his occupational therapist, and he is my client.”

Mosaic International is incredibly grateful for volunteers like Sigga who dedicate their time and talents to serving the children and young adults of BCC. Thank you for enthusiasm, insight, and impact!

This week is National Volunteer Week. To learn more about volunteer opportunities with Mosaic, please find your local agency online here.

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