Fun and catchy. That’s how i normally starts my monthly blog post about cool and inspiring woman. But now, when i sit here and try to find the right words, it’s like my words don’t cover. I just read the answers that i got from this month ‘Get inspired by-woman, and i truly hope that you, like i did, will have the feeling of love, adventurousness and willies in your whole body when you finish reading this post. I hope that you will get inspired, impressed and hopefully activated, when you read the story about 28 years old Simone Kjær, who I think the danish people should be just as proud of, as we are when our national team wins the olympics.
While most of us only think about it, the story about Simone is complety different.
At some point in life, most of us have an experience, read a book or see a movie that makes us want to travel the world to help others who need it. But while most of us, unfortunately for those in need, only think about it, the story about Simone Kjær is completely different.
In the last year of primary school Simone Kjær made a project about poor kids living on the streets, but when the assignment was finished, her thoughts couldn’t let go. She was thinking about the kids who don’t grow up in safe country like Denmark, but instead have to live on the streets. Some year’s after she finished school Simone Kjær was still thinking about those kids, and her desire to help had only grown bigger.
– As long as you have the energy, in my opinion you are bound to help where you can. I began to do some research on how you get to work as a volunteer, and i found out that it is quite expensive, she says.
But not even the financial struggles made her give up.
– Unless you are very lucky to get a scholarship, no one will help you with the economy, therefore I started my own saving. When you study like I did, it take some time to gather the money, but when you have a clear vision on why you do it, and the goal is in front for you, it’s easier, she says.
Simone Kjær saved enough money so she could travel. Today she has been away to work as a volunteer tree times. First in South Africa and then two times in Tanzania, and even though it’s a pity to return to Denmark with no money she never regreted that she left.
– I learned so much about my self; I have gotten a lot of new friends, learned a lot about the African culture, and about human beings. You see the world in a different perspective when you are in Tanzania. In a short moment I forgot about al the bad things going on in the world. In Tanzania it was all about your own survival and that was very liberating and revitalizing, she says and continues:
– The only bad thing is to return to home with an empty bank account, but what does that mean when your heart is felt with amazing memories, which will stay with you for your entire life.
Simone Kjær: We have to take a drivers licens to drive a car, and a long education to get a job, but when it comes to being a parent, the most imortant job in life, society don’t have any demands.
When Simone Kjær is asked to describe her self she use the words loyal, caring, empathetic and humorous. Fire personal qualities that the children in Africa have gained from, and Simone Kjær have never been in doubt – it’s for the children she wants to make a difference.
– I love children and I believe that everyone deserve the best start of life. Some people get upset when they see mistreated animals, I get deeply emotional when I hear about neglected children, she says and continues:
– I don’t understand why we don’t get any education in how to be a parent. We have to take a drivers license to drive a car, and a long education to get a job, but when it comes to being a parent – the most important job in life, society don’t have any demands. It’s not surprising that it sometimes goes wrong for some people, she says.
The kids Simone Kjær have met as a volunteer; have had a very difficult start in life.
– All the kids comes from a poor village. They live in very small houses, with one small bed, some small chairs and some plastic bags for storage. T he whole family sleeps in the same bed, and if they are to many people some of them have to sleep on the floor, she says and continues:
– Many of these kids live with only one parent. When the parents get a “divorce” and one of them get a new family it’s very normal that the new family don’t want to have anything to do with kids from previous relationships. Some of the kids live at orphanage or at the Safe House connected to the school. They are only supposed to stay in the Safe House for a short period, but for some of the kids it ends up being there permanent home, because their parents are sick, dead or afflict them.
Simone made a health check on all the kids. If their situation were bad, they had to be removed from home.
The joy Simone Kjær got from helping the kids in South Africa and Tanzania have been the most amazing experience, and she is completely sure that the help from volunteers means something special for the kids.
– The people working as volunteers give the kids a positive adult relationship. The local teachers don’t sit and listen to the children, the kids don’t get a hug when they misses their dead mother, and there is no one who ask them about their weekend. I feel that the kids love when I an adult take his or her time to play with them, to give them a hug and a plaster if they get a scar or simply just laugh with them, she says.
Besides love and care Simone Kjær has also contribute with unique elements in the school program.
– None of the kids knew how to brush their teeth. Doing my stay I taught them how to do it and why it’s important. Furthermore I teach them in English. I hope, that they can take some of the things they learn from me in school, and use them in their future life, Simone Kjær says.
The passionate woman also made a health check on all the kids at school.
– I made a health check of all the kids. I took their weight and wrote all their numbers down. From their numbers I could see if any of the kids have lost weight doing the Christmas holiday. For some of the kids the only meal they get doing a day is the one bowl of porridge they get at school. Therefore there is a chance that some of the kids will not get any food when they are on vacation. Based on the health check I visited some of their homes, and if there was something wrong, we had to move them from home and into the Safe House, she says.
Simone’s best experience as a volunteer
To see andfeel that you make a difference for the locals, is the best thing Simone Kjærhas experienced doing her travels, but on a personal level there is especiallyone situation that she remembers and treasure more than others.
– The firsttime i was in Tanzania I got a special bond to some of the kids. Especially oneboy was very interested in my presence, and one day he was looking very intenseon my Nike shoes. I asked him if he wanted to try them, and they fit perfectly.At the same time I got to try his old and ruined shoes. He told me that theywere fixed with an old car tire. And I could see that It was correct. One ofthe soles was black.
The kidbegan to run around in Simones shoes, to show that it was possible to run veryfast in a new pair of shoes, and Simone asked if he wanted to keep them.
– He got sohappy and gave me a big hug, Simone Kjær says and continues:
– When hecame to school the next day he was wearing his new shoes, and it was easy tosee how proud he was. When I came back to the school one year later, many ofthe kids remember the episode and asked me if we could swap our shoes. Thatshows me, that sometimes the smallest things in life can mean the world toothers, she says.
BeforeSimone Kjær went on her third travel as a volunteer, she started charityfundraising for the kids and in short time her apartment was full of newclothes and toys for the kids, but to collect some money for the project washarder.
– EveryoneI spoke to was very impressed and liked the initiative, but it was only a fewpeople who actually donated money. I got 5000 Danish kroner from friends andfamily, I spend the money to buy new benches for the school, so the kids didn’thave to sit on the floor. Furthermore I bought some footballs, food, and shoes.I also took the kids to the local swimming pool.
Simone: My dream is to open my own orphanage in Africa
From the moment Simone Kjær came home from her first travel as a volunteer in South Africa, she has wanted to go back.
– My time in South Africa open my eyes to how big a difference you can make with only a few resources. Therefore it was not an option not to go back, she says and continues:
– I just came back from Tanzania and i feel exactly the same way. I feel that I can and that I have to do some more for these kids.
To save the world is not possible, but if Simone Kjær can make a difference for a group of kids, it’s good enough for her.
– I miss the kids and I think about them everyday. At the moment i try to find out a way to help the kids from Denmark, when it is not possible for me to stay with them in Africa. My biggest dream is to open my own orphanage where the kids can feel home, safe and loved from the moment they step in. A home where you help each other and respect each other, she says.
Simones advice to others who want to help as a volunteer
If youdream about doing a difference for others, you should just do it, Simone Kjærsays.
– JUST DOIT! If you have the dream go chase it, don’t make up excuses not to do it. Iknow a lot of people who wish they had done the same while when they were youngand had the opportunity, she says.
In Simonesopinion there is tree questions that you should ask your self, if you areplanning to work as a volunteer.
– What doyou want and what can you contribute with? How long time do you want to spendaway from you normal life? Do you want to start up your on project with thekids?
– When youwork as a volunteer no one tells you what to do. It’s important that you thinkabout what you can contribute with. You have to be proactive and ready to setan agenda your self, Simone Kjær Says.