Linda Ryder’s Story: From Team Tanzania volunteer to living in Dodoma, Tanzania
I joined FTLOA at the time that research and planning were underway for the construction of the Dodoma Technical Institute. I was a member of the team that traveled to Tanzania in 2015 when the building was being completed. This was my first time in Tanzania and I immediately felt that I had come home and would be spending more time in this beautiful country.
I traveled to Tanzania again in October 2017 to take part in the Ipagala Project, in May 2018 to take part in the Nashipay School Project. After these three experiences I determined that it was time for me to move to Dodoma, TZ. With the assistance of Ben and Joseph from DTI I obtained a Volunteer Work Permit and a two year Residence Permit and moved to Dodoma in October 2018. When the FTLOA team traveled to Tanzania for the Ndachi School Project in May 2019 I worked with the team leader to arrange travel and accommodation for the team and traveled with them when they visited the Ndachi site.
Through my volunteer work with DTI I was able to establish a Days for Girls Enterprise in Dodoma. This group of women make and sell the Days for Girls Kits (reusable menstrual pads). The group is also trained to provide presentations on women’s’ and girls’ health. I act as Mentor for the group and provide assistance where required.
Since moving to Tanzania I have maintained my membership in FTLOA and stay in touch by e-mail and WhatsApp. Through new contacts I have met US ad TZ members of Tanzania Life Project (TLP) who bring fresh water into villages in the Dodoma Region. I had the opportunity to travel with them to the village of their latest project and meet the people in the village. This project provided the first sale of the DFG Kits (made by the Dodoma Group) which were distributed in the village when we visited. I maintain a close contact with TLP in the US and we share information.
I have also met Barbara from UK who has been traveling to villages in the Morogoro Region for several years to assist with projects that are funded from UK. We had a short visit when she was last here and we keep in touch through e-mail and WhatsApp calls. She will return when travel is again safe. We continue to share information about Tanzania.
I have made new friends who assist me with learning Swahili and performing day to day tasks, such as transportation and shopping. It was an enlightened decision to move here and I continue to learn about Tanzanians and their country (now my adopted country). Through other connections I have had the opportunity to visit several villages and meet some of the people living there.
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I decided and it came true…….
What an experience! I was fulfilling my mother’s dream of working in Africa. I never ever thought that I would travel to Africa, it was just too far away and too different. But when I heard about the opportunity people in the Society were having by going to Tanzania and working to make a better world for the children I knew that I was going to go. I didn’t know how but once I had decided, it did come true. Three of my friends decided to come with me. Long-time friends who were caught up in my enthusiasm.
Five years later, we are still reliving our experience with ourselves and others. My experience was more than one I would have received being simply a tourist. I had the experience of working side-by-side with local people. I got to talk, listen, ask questions, hug, joke with, laugh with and become friends with the local people. As an adult educator for part of my career life, I was excited about being part of the first phase of the building of what was planned to be a technical institute campus. A place where young men and women will learn valuable skills to begin their careers, to live above the poverty level and to feel fulfilled. While the struggle to make this a success still continues, I feel a strong connection having been there at the start.
Working with people like 27 year old Elijah, who volunteered with us daily, who never said no to a task and who always had a smile was pure joy. He spoke English better than any of us spoke Swahili and we all felt he had become our best friend! My job was to write about the experience, report on past projects and keep the folks in Canada informed. Our new friends were happy to be interviewed and share their dreams and goals with us. I learned about their lifestyle and saw the similarities and differences and I was able to share these insights in my communications.
Visiting some of the homes in the small town of Nala in which we were working was an eye opener. Thatch roof over wooden struts. Dead or sleeping spiders just above my head. I bend my knees slightly in order that my head doesn’t come in contact with the spider or other insects. Dirt floors, fire pit in the centre of the room,
on which tea and food is prepared. A single piece of cotton material laid out on the dirt which signifies where that person slept. In the adjoining room, a chicken or two live. Six of us crowded in to deliver our gifts which consisted of beans, maize flour, fish, oil and laundry soup.
Some people say this trip is a life-changing experience, I have recently decided it is a life-enhancing experience because the memories stay and the work with the society builds upon that which we, on teams, have done in the past.. I am grateful every day for the opportunity to be a part of the team in 2015 that went to Tanzania.
I first traveled to Dodoma with FTLOA in October of 2009 and had such a wonderful experience that I had no doubt I would return another time. When the next team was being organized I convinced my husband, Bob, that he needed to be a part of the team and see for himself what I had been telling him about. We went in May of 2011 to help build the St. Andrew’s school and to work alongside the members of that community. My fondest memory is hearing laughter coming from behind the brick walls. When I went to see what was going on, there was Bob, who speaks no Swahili, sitting with five tradesman, who spoke very little (or no) English, having a wonderful time and managing to communicate regardless of the language barriers. The project itself was a huge success but for us our greatest memories came from the interaction with the people