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