Our greatness comes from what we give: Naeku taught me a lesson

She had nothing but she was willing to give everything. That was Naeku the woman that I met during my 1st field trip to the Enjoro Village. That was the spirit of this whole rural Maasai community lost in the poorest part in Tanzania. I had come one month to volunteer for the FAE, having discovered the noble and silent work they were undertaking there, in the most remote areas of rural Tanzania, to help the most vulnerable people of these underserved communities and truly improve their livelihoods.


It is hard to make an impact and poverty is a tricky crosscutting challenge that needs to be tackled in a multi-sectorial approach. Education, Economic opportunities, Health, Water management, Conservation strategies… The organization is focusing on these topics and I was there to help them with the communication and outreach strategy. I was supposed to share my skills. We ended up sharing our lives. I learnt much more from that experience, from FAE, from the affected communities than what I expected and what was planned. Give and you will receive. A thousand times more. That is so true. I lived it and felt it. In my soul, flesh and heart.


I had already been a couple of times to Africa, last time also for a volunteering assignment in Nairobi, Kenya. I had been travelling a few times around, in Rwanda, Congo and the Tanzanian coast already. Each time, I always felt something deep, beyond words, that I couldn’t still explain for this monstrous continent, full of beauties and ancestral secrets, hidden sunsets and starry impenetrable skies, so widely misunderstood by our so called modern developed and fast paced western societies.


There, in rural Tanzania, in the Enjoro Village, that day, I firsthand witnessed the dilapidated and inadequate infrastructures they had to cope with every day. School buildings were falling apart. nearly 200 children had recently enrolled in the kindergarten and had no classroom to study in. They were learning sitting under trees to escape from the burning sun of this deserted landscape. Rain season will start in one month. Where will these children go? No school for them anymore until Mother Nature would be clement again. Could this still exist in the 21st century? Where have I been living all these years? Reality is a harsh slap in your face sometimes and you will feel ashamed.


This day, during my visit with my director, Samwel, at the Enjoro Village, as I was freezing in a terribly and unexpectedly harsh weather. Naeku gave me her only scarf. I had come totally unprepared and I was trembling in the cold wind of the hills, lost in Swahili translation, she unwrapped this piece of blue bright scarf that she was proudly wearing on her head and put it on my shoulders. ‘Asante’…Thank you…what else can you say? What else could you do? No real clue…


I left her one of my earrings. That day I had nothing. That day like every day of her life she had nothing. But she gave. What she had, what she could. A scarf, a smile. And we were gone. That was it. And that was All.


We should never forget. We should all donate like Naeku did, without any thoughts, to help build better livelihoods. The act of love from Naeku made me remember the saying, “Your greatness is not what you have, it’s what you give”.


We should all act together as together, we can transform lives.

By Agustina Grossi