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She left her heart behind in Tanzania

Updated: 2013-01-18 11:23
By Zhang Xiaomin ( China Daily)

She left her heart behind in Tanzania

Cao Jingyi (second from left) with other volunteers and local students in Dar es Salaam. Photos Provided to China Daily

Student volunteer inspired to help orphans

At the beginning of 2012, a volunteer project transported Cao Jingyi from China to Tanzania, where she made friends with dozens of orphans. The experience touched her so much that when she returned home, the senior Dalian Maritime University student raised about 13,000 yuan ($2,100) to improve the children's living conditions. "The kids made my trip to Tanzania more meaningful and unforgettable," she says of the New Hope Family orphanage in the country's capital Dar es Salaam.

Cao and 11 other Chinese students went to the African city with AIESEC, or the Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, one of the world's largest student-run organizations. There were also student participants from other countries.

She left her heart behind in Tanzania

Top: Cao Jingyi with a child at the New Hope Family orphanage in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Above: A postcard made by student volunteers features children from the New Hope Family.

They spent six weeks publicizing information about HIV/AIDS prevention in the city.

On weekends, they volunteered at the orphanage, which is about 10 minutes from where they stayed.

The building is a dilapidated gray bungalow with a yard. There is also a small piece of land to grow vegetables and flowers. Inside, there is only one table, two chairs, 20 bunk beds and one old TV set. A small room was turned into the classroom - with only a blackboard and without desks or chairs.

The orphanage's dreariness is in sharp contrast to the bright smiles of its occupants - more than 40 children, age 8 to 16.

"They were always happy," Cao says.

"Whenever they saw us arrive at the orphanage, they ran to grab our hands and hug us. They were always ready to pose for pictures."

The volunteers played games with the children, who performed African songs and dances for their newfound friends.

Cao says the Chinese students were motivated by a Dutch student, who raised money to build a henhouse so the children can raise hens and sell eggs to make a living.

"After finding out about what the Dutch student did, we brainstormed about what we could do for the children," Cao says. They decided to help the orphanage acquire legal status and improve the children's living conditions.

When they came back to China, Cao and volunteers Hu Xinyi from Nanjing Audit University, Sun Dongchu from Henan University and several others, made postcards with the photos they took in Tanzania to sell to raise money.

Each set, sold at 4 yuan, contained 15 cards with pictures of the beautiful scenery of Tanzania and the children from the New Hope Family.

They sold the cards online and on their campuses. Within four months, they raised about 13,000 yuan.

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