Apr 29,2024

“Love and Happiness Money Can't Buy” - A Volunteer's Story from Africa

Apr 29,2024

“Love and Happiness Money Can't Buy” - A Volunteer's Story from Africa


Arijana Matošević, a young student at the Zagreb Faculty of Mining, Geology and Petroleum Engineering, is an adventurer with a big heart, hailing from Frkljevci, a village near Pleternica. At the age of 23, she decided to fulfill her long-standing desire - to volunteer in Africa.


Arijana's volunteering story began long before she set foot on Tanzanian soil, where she is currently. When she came to Zagreb for her studies, she first started volunteering at the Parish of Mary Help of Christians, tutoring children. As a preparation for Africa, she joined the Kolajna ljubavi association last year, where she completed 80 hours of volunteer work.


"To get permission to go to the Orphanage of St. Anthony, I had to complete a volunteer course lasting several months. There, I also helped children, packed food and necessities for needy families, conducted psychological workshops, volunteered in homes for orphaned children, and participated in humanitarian actions," explains Arijana.


Thanks to her rich previous volunteering experiences, she quickly adapted to Tanzania and became part of the daily life of the local community there. From early morning activities like watering the garden and cleaning, to evening conversations and games with children, Arijana experienced the genuine warmth and hospitality of Tanzanian culture.


"I spend most of my time playing and socialising with children. There's no end to laughter and fun then. We play soccer, but here, the games are different from those in Croatia. We sing various songs, make jewellery, teach children to ride bicycles, and one day we even filled balloons with water, which was especially fun. Also, there are beautiful moments when we gather around the well in the late afternoon, wash clothes, listen to songs, sing, dance... I could just list what else we do," describes the volunteer, adding that she is currently involved in building a stable as part of the "Croatian Wings of Help" project.


In addition to teaching children various skills, Arijana also learns a lot from them every day. She is slowly picking up their Swahili language, while smilingly recalling the situation when girls taught her to carry wood on her head. However, things took a downturn then - literally!


"While one girl effortlessly took a piece of wood off my head, put it on hers, and casually started walking, mine began to fall as if they had planned an escape. But I managed to make everyone smile, even the nun noticed an opportunity for photographing my failed attempt," laughs Arijana.


She says there are already many such situations, although she has been in Tanzania for just over two weeks. Every day brings new adventures and unforgettable moments, and the feeling of happiness and satisfaction when she sees smiles on the faces of those children is priceless.


"These are love and happiness that cannot be bought. Generally speaking, volunteering is something wonderful for me, as well as the time I spend with children, every bit of knowledge passed on, and every smile. Ultimately, the most beautiful thing is the happiness I feel when returning from the orphanage, from tutoring, or, now, here in Africa in the evening when I lie down and go through the day. I am so grateful to God for all the beauty he has gave us," emphasizes the volunteer who spends her free time with friends, plays futsal, participates in various activities, works through a student service, and passionately supports NK Osijek.


And while her time in Tanzania will end in mid-June, Arijana already plans to continue her volunteer activities, both in Croatia and wherever it may be needed. However, she already knows that her experience from Africa will stay in her heart forever, and perhaps even become part of her future volunteer projects.

"Anyone who comes here once will surely come back," concludes Arijana.


Arijana's experience in Africa is not just part of an enriching journey but also a life calling that will surely lead her further in helping others and spreading love. The story of this young woman encourages us to follow our dreams and engage in humanitarian work, reminding us that true happiness lies in giving and connecting with others, regardless of distance or cultural differences.