I arrived safe and sound in Tanzania on Saturday, June 13th after a very long 30 hour journey routing through D.C. and Ethiopia.
The airport in Kilimanjaro is one that can only put a smile on your face as you realize it’s just a small runway and one small building. I was seated next to a witty San Franciscan who was embarking on a Mt. Kilimo climb and quickly took the opportunity to joke that the shed out in the field was Customs. I smiled; clearly there wasn’t going to be a security screening and my shoes would remain happily on my feet.
The hour long car ride to Karanga Village, located right outside Moshi, was very pleasant. The land was filled with lush greenery as we stopped frequently for crossing goats, cows, and donkeys. The only of alarm me was when we were stopped by the police for what I learned to be a ‘safety vehicle’ check for older cars and trucks. The conversation seemed tense until the police officer realized I was in the back of the car. Although a little nervous, I tried to smile my way through the situation (a great tool when faced with a language barrier). After answering a few questions about my personal life, the officer high- fived me and we were back on our way. A question that gets asked very frequently is “are you married?” It isn’t very common for women my age to be unmarried without children, however as more women look to education, the average age of marriage is going up.
I was the first to arrive at the volunteer house and took sometime to familiarize myself with the gated compound.
During orientation the next day we went over several rules and expectations. Both the rules and expectation seemed a little common sense like (i.e. don’t be drunk). I asked our house director why we have those rules. He noted some volunteers spend a lot of time partying . This was extremely disheartening to hear. Although, I enjoy pairing volunteerism with travel, volunteering always comes first. Many people forget that when they do this work and go into these rural villages, they may be the only American the local people will meet in their entire life. Therefore, volunteers become the forefront when it comes to representing their countries. Thankfully, I am beyond blessed and have been placed with an incoming group of incredibly driven, good- hearted, and determined to make a difference volunteers. Our group consists of a monther/daughter team from New York, a teacher, an accountant for PWC, a recently graduated college student from New York, and a pre-med student from Washington State.
Pictures of Karanga Village:
Sleeping facility (mosquito nets are a must!):
My awesome volunteer group, including Mama Thea who is the country director for the volunteer organization. This is the traditional dress for women. Each ‘changa’ has a message written at the bottom of it. These messages are sometimes used between women to note if they aren’t happy with one another. One example Mana Thea have was that Muslim women who may be one of four wives will have messages noting “I’m the prettiest wife.” You have to be very careful in picking your message when buying your changa.
Meals (the food is delicious and one always finds fresh fruit and veggies). Breakfast (below) always includes porridge.