My name is Gelila Melaku, I’m from the U.K and I was on my gap year when a friend of mine told me about Save a Child’s Heart. I looked on the website and saw the amazing work that they do and I wanted to be a part of it. So I applied to be a full-time volunteer for three weeks.
Arriving at SACH, I really had no idea what to expect. It turned out that I ended up having some of the best moments of my life at this house. At first some of the children were shy around me and I’ll admit I was probably a little awkward around all these new people and surroundings, but as you start to play with the kids and they give you a little smile or a laugh you know that they have accepted you and it feels like such a massive achievement.
As a full-time volunteer you’re with the kids 24/7 and as a result, you end up knowing each child’s individual personality and quirks really well. For example, Faith from Kenya was such a little diva, you were lucky if she just about tolerated you. So whenever we played together and she gave her cute little smile, all that would go through my head would be “oh my god she might actually like me!”.
And then there was Denis the menace who fully lives up to his namesake. He’s always laughing and smiling but at the same time, it’s probably because he’s played some sort of trick on you or he’s doing something he probably shouldn’t be doing.
Another child also from Kenya was Rose, she was absolutely obsessed with Moana and Frozen. So another volunteer and I threw her a dance party where we played all her favourite songs from movies and all the kids and volunteers dressed up in costumes. I will never forget the joy on her face and her excitement at just singing and dancing, so whenever I hear those songs I will always think of her and that day.
It’s in moments like that we forget these kids are actually ill and that a lot of them have unfairly been through so much in their short lives. But despite all that they’re happy. For me, it really and truly put things into perspective and made the things that I might have been worried about back home seem so frivolous and unimportant.
My time here is coming to an end and I am absolutely dreading saying goodbye. You get very close to the everyone here unbelievably quickly. The children, mothers and nurses here at the SACH house are some of the warmest and most loving people I have ever met. They’re the ones that made my experience at Save a Child’s heart so memorable and I am thrilled to have been part of an organisation like this.