Avery Gori - Care & Community in Tanzania
I had been considering a volunteer trip for years, and when I finally gathered up the funds to allow for one, the two-week Care & Community Short-term Special in Arusha, Tanzania looked too perfect to pass up! At the time I chose my programme, I had no idea just how memorable and rewarding this trip would be. I also had no idea what Tanzania was like, as I had never travelled beyond North America, let alone visited East Africa.
My accommodation in Tanzania
I remember exactly what it felt like waking up on the top bunk in a room full of other volunteers I had just met in a foreign country. I was awakened by the distant call to prayer and the sounds of the family doing early morning chores; sounds that I have come to miss here in the US!
Since the drive from the airport took place at night, I was thrilled to see what my surroundings looked like in daylight. I was floored at how lively, bright and beautiful the streets of Tanzania were. I was placed with a host family with four other volunteers and my two group leaders. We grew to be so close with the family, especially the two young girls in the family, Neema and Joslyn. After a fun day of volunteering, colouring and singing, Neema and Joslyn made being home just as fun.
My Care & Community placement
For the Care & Community part of the trip, I volunteered at a Maasai school just outside of Arusha. The school had about 50-70 kids all younger than around nine years. When we arrived the very first day, they were all in line to get their serving of porridge for lunch, but they dropped everything to come and meet us.
We arranged lesson plans for the youngest class and taught them about numbers and shapes with resources that would not normally be available to them, like brand new crayons and blank paper. On days that weren’t spent teaching, we helped build a wall around the school to protect the kids from sandy winds while they were playing. A few members of Projects Abroad staff instructed and helped us, who were all born and raised in Tanzania. This was awesome because they were super funny and supportive and provided a real look at Tanzanian culture and its people.
In addition to the Maasai school, we also spent time at an orphanage called Tumaini for Africa. We came during a time when the teacher who normally lived at the orphanage was on a trip so we had the freedom to create lesson plans and teach them more advanced lessons because all the kids spoke great English.
In addition to teaching, we also planted a garden since the orphanage grew almost all of its own food. It felt like we were really doing valuable work when the person who ran the orphanage told us exactly what plants would be most useful and we were able to go and buy the seeds the next day, something they could not afford to do on their own. Each day, when work was done at either the Maasai School or Tumaini for Africa, the kids would sing us a number of songs, something I soon learned kids all over Tanzania loved to do.
My favorite memory
One night in particular, we were supposed to take a cooking lesson at the Projects Abroad office with a staff member. He was feeling sick that day, so instead our host mother let us cook dinner with her and the two women that helped her. We ended up making so much food that the meal turned into a feast very quickly! It took us almost four hours, because we did all the cooking outside and made everything from scratch, of course.
By the time we finished, it was dark outside, I remember by how huge the moon looked in the sky. Time flew by, our group leader put on some popular Tanzanian music and our whole host family sang and danced along. Later, all the people in the house crowded around the very small dinner table to eat what we had made! It was the best meal of the whole two weeks.
I cherish the time I spent in Tanzania more than anything and am so glad I decided to spend my summer with Projects Abroad.