Tuesday, August 1, 2017

2017 Tanzania Trip (Sophia, Jeron, Elyse, Allie, Will)

As our time in Tanzania is coming to an end we experienced new levels of our emotions. We are sad to be leaving this place we have called home for two and a half weeks especially because of the new friends we have made.
            The 19 people that embarked on this journey 16 days ago have only gotten closer since. To say that 13 kids not only hung out all together every night but enjoyed each others company would be an understatement. With the “door-open” policy allowed for boy-girl company, but leaving the doors open anyway for each other and chaperones to feel welcomed has made our trip very special. Whether we were enjoying music on the rooftop or journaling in one room, we have gotten through this incredible life experience together. We have danced together, laughed together and ate our way through never ending rice. We have made everlasting memories with our friends, who are now family, from breaking the bed, to our obsession with Pringles, to singing our favorite Swahili song. We are also excited to announce that the girls’ sleepover that never could, will be happening tonight so long as the beds stay afloat. The Fab Five Guys + David (lodge manager) have bonded and become great friends for many reasons but mainly through music and this amazing experience. We have endless amounts of inside jokes that will forever be special to the 2017 Tanzania trip family.
            This trip has taught us many life lessons. We have learned to appreciate the art of journaling because we don’t want to forget a single moment. Through manual labor we have learned that teamwork, hard work and a little bit of music can make things easier.  We also learned that being patient is a virtue and telling time is for mzungu (white people). The people here have taught us generosity through the gifts they have given us even if they don’t have much to give. We have also learned hospitality that has come from every place we visited. Lastly, we have learned that we did not come here to help, but to serve the needs of others, as they are no less than we are.
            The last 17 days we have thrown ourselves into the Tanzanian culture with skirt wearing, food eating and speaking our kidogo tu (little bit) of Swahili. We also have become used to the left side driving while sitting in an over crowded dala-dala. We have developed a knack for African time, everything here is pole pole (slowly slowly).  The girls have also gotten accustomed to taking every opportunity to use a bathroom no matter the smell. A squatty-potty with toilet paper is our lucky day. Though being immersed into the culture we have still had time to show our tourist side. We had an unforgettable overnight Safari and an amazing day swimming at Marangu Falls. These glimpses into the beauty of nature in Africa will be images we hold in our minds forever.
            We are excited to see our friends and family but sad to leave our newfound home we love here in Tanzania. We thank St. Louis Primary School, Agano Preschool, Upendo Orphanage, and also our beloved friends at Uru Secondary School for their hospitality and loving karibu (welcome). Another big thanks to Mr. McMorrow for making this trip happen and making it special to each individual. That goes to the rest of our chaperones as well. We lastly want to thank our families and especially our parents. We appreciate everything you have done for us. We will see you soon and with many stories

Monday, July 31, 2017

a few more photographs

Return information


Your children have had a wonderful time and, believe it or not, we are about to begin our last full day in Tanzania.  Tomorrow - Wednesday - we depart from Kilimanjaro for our return home.

Remember that you MUST pick up your child at the airport.  I strongly suggest that you park and come in and meet us as we come to baggage claim.  They will be happy to see your smiling faces!

4 ET 814 02 AUG JRO to ADD 17:35  20:05                  
5 ET 500 02 AUG ADD to IAD 22:15  08:40   03AUG          
6 United 221 03 AUG IAD to ORD 14:05  15:05    

7 United 620 03 AUG ORD to MSP 16:00  17:45    

Powerful Women (Caitlyn and Rachel)

 A few of us have had the wonderful opportunity to get to know a few of the mama’s from Jesca Olotu’s women’s group. A little bit of history about Jiendeleze Women’s Group - they started in 2010 with 50-60 members. Many of these women have similar backgrounds and the same culture but the stories and experiences they shared with us are very different. For example, Matilda a 45 year-old mother of 10 has recently lost her eldest child who was 25. She continues to struggle with that but knows she needs to keep it to herself because she still has 9 kids to care for. Birnedieta is 50 years old and is the mother of 6 children, she also has suffered the loss of a child and her husband. We came to realize that it is these similarities that brought them to the women’s group. As a member of the women’s group they have different projects that they work on throughout the year including: soap making, jam for sandwiches, clothing and jewelry. It is those projects that create the income for the women’s group. Meeting with the women was incredible, they were so happy to see us and they would not stop thanking us for the donations of rice and soap that we gave. One woman wouldn’t stop dancing and shaking our hands because she was so stoked to finally have rice for dinner and soap to clean her clothes. Seeing the women this happy about something that we have taken for granted and even began to complain about over the last few days was really eye opening. Before leaving we were lucky enough to see three of the women’s homes, all were very different. Seeing how they live and what they go through everyday compared to what we see and experience in the US is dramatically different. We are very glad we had the opportunity to meet them and here their stories!

*Jeanine will be selling some of the products the women make so if you are interested just let her know once we get back! :)

Agano Pre-school (Jeron & Rachel)

Agano is a preschool full of children’s laughter and endless smiles. A few of us have had the opportunity to spend our mornings at Agano. Once we enter the gate and the children see the dala-dala they instantly run up to us full of excitement. We spend our time getting to know the children and help/entertain the kids. We teach them how to say and write numbers as well as letters. The teachers like to put us on the spot and have us sing a song in front of the class. Our song choices include Old Macdonald, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Twinkle Twinkle! After working on various subjects it’s time for the kids to have  porridge. Porridge is a drink that consists of sugar, corn and water, the kids really seem to enjoy it. For us students we are served tea and bread as a sign of their respect for us. Tea-time is always the boy’s favorite part of the day! As the kids finish there porridge they are allowed to run outside for “break time” also known as recess. The kids love to tackle us and play with our hair and just constantly be holding our hands. Being surrounded by that many kids who show their love and care for you is an amazing feeling, and is something that we will never forget.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Safari Weekend by Nathan and Will

Saturday morning breakfast was at 7:15, and we hopped in the 3 safari cars at 8. The cars were very spacious, holding about 10 people each. It was a 3 hour drive to Lake Manyara National Park. We stopped on the way to shop in Arusha. We arrived to the entrance of the park and we all got out to eat lunch. It was a beautiful day, the temperature was around 80 degrees and it was sunny. After lunch we got back in the safari cars to start our journey through the park. Our 3 cars traveled in a caravan, and the tops of the cars opened up to allow us to stand on the seats to watch the animals. The first animals we saw were the monkeys and baboons. Very soon after we all spotted an elephant in the brush about 50 feet away. Everyone was excited to see it and taking pictures, even though the view wasn’t that great from our location. We kept going and saw the zebras next. There were 3 zebras around 30 feet away, and many people were surprised by their small size. We continued on to a clearing with water and saw thousands of birds and many hippos in the water. More baboons roamed the flat land with a couple gazelles and zebras. Next we went back into the forest. After rounding a corner, we saw an elephant up close for the first time. It was about 20 feet away and it wasn’t alone. We watched as more elephants came closer to the cars. One was a baby. They ate off the trees we could almost touch from our cars. One elephant even crossed the road between us. Everyone was very excited and people were getting lots of pictures. Eventually we moved on down the path. After driving for a few minutes, we saw the giraffes. They were obviously very tall because we spotted them over the tops of the trees. The giraffes were stretching to eat leaves off of the very tall trees. They are Caitlyn’s favorite animal, and it brought her to tears to see them in person. After the giraffes, we made our way to the exit of Lake Manyara National Park, and saw more animals along the way. After leaving the park, we drove about 15 minutes to our campsite for the night. Each tent had a straw roof over the top, along with two small beds inside. The campsite was connected with walking trails, and there was outdoor seating for meals and bathrooms with showers. We had free time for a while before dinner, and then we ate around 7:15. We shared the camp with some others, and we met some people from England and Belgium. We then went to bed around 10 because we had an early morning coming up. Breakfast was at 5:30, and the safari cars left at 6. We had to get up this early because it takes an hour or more to get to the crater, and it is better to see the animals earlier in the day. The weather was complete opposite of the day before, with the temperature being about 50 degrees and cloudy with wind. We entered Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area. It was created after a volcano erupted and collapsed. We drove up the mountain and down into the crater. It is the home of thousands of animals that we could see roaming around on our way down. After our descent, we first saw lions at a distance. Near the lions were also wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles. We drove further, and saw hundreds of zebras and wildebeests. We finally arrived at the hippo pool, and saw more hippos than before at a closer distance. Shortly after, we saw lions from about 50 feet away. There were around 8 females in a group, all sleeping. There was one male that we saw up close, but it was also sleeping. We left the lions and went to a picnic area to have lunch. After lunch, we saw many more animals that we had already seen. We saw one more lion, sitting on a large fallen tree. We then ascended back up out of the crater and started our 5 hour drive back to Moshi.

Manual Labor Project by Allie and Theresa

Every Africa trip, the kids do a manual labor project. We usually do it at the Women’s Group, but unfortunately we were unable to do it there this year. Instead we have been helping the Uru Secondary School build a basketball court for the students to play on. When we arrived the first day it was a bit overwhelming. They instructed us to move many giant piles of dirt with about 2 shovels, a pick, and an old wheelbarrow. Although it seemed impossible, we went straight to work with what we had. After awhile we gained some bags and buckets to help move dirt. It’s been very challenging, but also very rewarding because of the friendships we have all created. Some have made such strong friendships that will last into the future. Doing such hard, demanding work has really brought all of us together. One of the days we even came together to make an assembly line to see if it would increase the speed of moving the dirt. The work has been so laborious that everyday after working we come home with mounds of dirt coming out of our shoes and we’re all ready for a nice hot shower. The most recent workday Baba Dick finally made an appearance and really worked hard. He shoveled a few times and carried one half bucket full of dirt. We showed him our bruises from previous work days and we asked him where his were and he said they were all hidden. Even though he may not have done a lot of work at the site, he did a very good job at keeping the spirits lifted of those working. Working wasn’t the only thing that we’ve done at Uru. This past Friday we went to the school to participate in their classes. We each got into groups of three and got to pick to either go to business, geography, biology, chemistry, or history. It was interesting to see the different teaching styles and atmospheres of these classrooms. The kids were very excited to see all of us join them in class. Almost too excited because they kept asking us questions about American and how we like Tanzania, which didn’t make the teachers very happy, but everyone still had fun. It was really sweet, one girl handed me a piece of paper and asked me my name, age, what I like about Tanzanian culture and tradition and culture, what I didn’t like about Tanzania, and the differences between America and Tanzania. They all wanted us to be their best friends and obviously all of us agreed. It’s just really cool to see people that we’ve just met act like they’ve known us for years.  We’ve made such strong connection that on these last few days it’ll be hard to say goodbye to all the Uru students.