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My Volunteering Experience: Taia Debernardi

My Magazine 2023/11
2 min
My life and perspective changed completely when I returned from The Gambia. It's hard to explain what I feel, but the experience has changed me in many ways.

The pace of life in The Gambia is slow and laid-back. People are not in a hurry, and they go about their daily lives in a relaxed way. They are well-mannered, and in the Gambian culture, it is customary to greet everyone even if you don't know them. Their lives are simple, and they do not require much. Most people do not have the means to buy gadgets, so they socialize more among themselves. Life in The Gambia is very different to what I am used to, but I love it there; I really do.

My experience working with the children has left an indelible impression on me. I can't explain how these little kids touched my heart with their pure love and innocence and how we forged a special bond immediately. They could feel my love for them and responded likewise. I felt a special connection with three children and became a godmother to two of them (Taslim and Jaja). I can't wait for Gibril to go to school to be his godmother.

I love Taslim because he is very good at school. He is interested in everything and exactly does what we ask him to do. I have high expectations from him in school and life. He is very gentle and kind-hearted, which will take him far in life.

Gibril is this little soul full of love and big, beautiful eyes. I will always remember him. He was like a son to me, and I wish I could bring him home with me. I will always cherish those moments when I sang to him, and he would cuddle up and fall asleep.

And Jaja! Oh, this girl. Others may see her as a difficult child, but she will always be special to me. I will never forget her spontaneous hugs, kisses, dancing, waves of laughter and beautiful words like "I love you, Taia; I want to be with you forever; I want to go with you." I can't tell you how much I miss her already. When I watch my videos with her or when Biba calls, I always cry because I would give anything to be there with her or to hug her again.

I love all three children, but my love for Jaja is extra special. I always have fun with my nephews, and being with Jaja, I felt like she was one of them and likewise with Gibril and Taslim. I was with Jaja most of the time, so we connected a bit more…

Of course, this experience wouldn't be so memorable if I didn't have friends like Buba, Biba, Emil and all the girls in the house. So, a lot of the credit goes to them, too.

Special thanks to the Volunteer Trails team (Urša and Jasmina), who enabled us to undergo this transformative experience and the chance to connect with people who have a different heart than the rest of the world.

The Gambia was my home for a month, and I felt completely safe and loved. It was a beautiful experience; the people and nature of the Gambia have become a part of me and will always be in my heart!


Are you ready to make your own experience? Check out our volunteering programs and apply for life-changing travel with My Gambia and Volunteer Trails!



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