Hannah's journey to help African kids
Hannah Kelly has just returned from Tanzania where she volunteered at a rehabilitation clinic for children who have undergone major reconstructive surgery.
SHE has just spent the past six months living in a poor east African city with no electricity and no hot water and at one stage was caught up in the middle of a political riot, but Hannah Kelly would return in a heartbeat.
The 20-year-old Bangalow woman volunteered her time at The Plaster House in Arusha in Tanzania – a rehabilitation clinic run by an American woman for children who have had corrective orthopaedic or plastic surgery or neurosurgery for a disability.
“A lot of the kids had terrible genetic deformities and there was lots of fluorosis, which is a disease caused by too much fluoride in the water,” Hannah said.
“The disease is a bit like rickets, and I spent my time reading to the kids, helping them to the toilet and feeding them.
“It was pretty confronting, a real eye-opener, and the clinic is only staffed by a minimal number of people, so you do whatever you can to make the kids more comfortable.
“It’s certainly not Paris, but I felt I was making a real difference and that’s what counts.”
After completing her HSC at Byron Bay High School, Hannah worked to save money for her travels. She left home in September last year and chose Tanzania as her destination.
Hannah’s parents had always encouraged her to help others less fortunate and her aunt had volunteered for Doctors Without Borders in Ethiopia and Kenya.
“I initially volunteered for a British-run organisation called Oyster and I was teaching English to kids,” Hannah said.
“But I felt that I wanted to do more, make more of an impact, so I applied to do a health volunteership.
“So they put me in touch with The Plaster House.”
“If people think they can’t make a difference in someone’s life because there just one person, well I want to tell them that they can make a difference. Every little thing helps.
“It was an incredible experience and I would go back in a heartbeat.”
Hannah is planning several fundraising events to help raise money for The Plaster House.
There will be a curry night in September in Bangalow and a trivia night at a date yet to set.
If you would like to volunteer or donate to The Plaster House go to www.plasterhouse.org