Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pasha – Warm it up

Sunday, November 10, 2013 Day 2

The rooster did his job this morning and beat Jill’s phone to the punch with a cocky wake up call. The first glimpse of a new place is always exciting, no matter where you are, and this morning was especially so. Jet lag gave way to curiosity and I was anxious to explore my surroundings by the light of day (as we had arrived in the dark, late in the evening.). I scrubbed my travel dust off with a very quick shower – wet then turn water off/lather/ turn water on to rinse. Water conservation is a must!

Camera in pocket, I strolled around the luscious grounds, kitchen garden and mango trees soaking up the moist, warm breezes of Karanga (Moshi). Breakfast was served by Primo, our chef (yes that’s his real name) and although I took a pass on the porridge, I was more than satisfied by the crepes, eggs, fruit and thick black coffee.  I got creative with the powdered milk offered for the coffee and borrowed the hot milk intended for the porridge – Tanzanian latte!

We spent the morning and afternoon getting fully acquainted with the customs and culture, sitting around in our open air dining hall and in amongst the mango trees in the garden. Lots to learn and absorb – don’t cross your legs, only use your right hand for greeting, eating and giving/receiving gifts. My brain is struggling to remember the all important Swahili greetings and handshakes. I swear they borrowed one from the Masonic Brotherhood.

Mama Fatuma and Mama Sarah are an animated pair, firmly dispersing important information while exchanging humourous, affectionate barbs on the side.  The staff are simply wonderful – friendly, gracious and kind – as were the complete strangers whose house I wandered up to (mistakenly thinking it was our home base) and who invited me to go on safari with them (they were just getting into their land rover). They smiled and pointed the way to the road we had missed.

Our group of 21 is diverse with 10 from various branches of the same large corporation; a mother/daughter team, mother/son team, a couple celebrating their 25th anniversary, an Iraqi war veteran (US), and another pair of feisty older ladies who are great friends - just like Jill and I. Most of the group is from the U.S. however there is another Canadian in the group as well as people from Germany (hubby will be happy), Slovenia, Croatia, Brazil, and Costa Rica. We shared our goals and expectations and they prepared us for our work assignment (which we start Tuesday). People are all here to explore and experience and that is something to give us all common cause.

The air is humid and warm – neither hot nor cool – until the sun comes out and hits you. The climate and landscape appear tropical – not unlike any Caribbean country that I have visited. The sounds that abound – complaining goats, birds squawking and singing, the odd baby crying, and singing coming from somewhere in the distance. The aroma of wood burning mixes with the heavy perfume from tree blossoms… I wonder if I will remember that as the fragrance of Tanzania, that will linger in memories for years to come. 

Today's take away was a little clapping song they shared with us to keep in mind at our assignment:

Pasha (warm it up) - get oriented
Beresha (improve it)
Kanyaga (stomp it) – overcome obstacles
Busu (kiss) – enjoy the volunteer experience

Safari is booked with Pristine Trails for next weekend (half the rate quoted online), and we have already started to bond as a group.

Internet access is sketchy so I haven't been able to upload my beautiful pictures. Stay tuned.


Sunday, November 10, 2013


Day 1 November 9, 2013

Sixteen hours in the air and 22 hours of travel and we finally arrived in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. The trace smoky aroma of wood burning and the warm humid breezes were our welcome as we stepped off the plane onto the tarmac. I watched Jill’s face and I could tell she shared my feelings of excitement, and that it was all a little surreal.

By the time we cleared Immigration (after a meeting with officials in their office regarding our volunteer CTA stamp  that we needed – but couldn’t get – and drove the forty minutes to our CCS home base, we were all travel weary. We had a warm welcome from Sarah, our Program Director and a brief orientation – reminder to not brush your teeth with the tap water – and then we were shown to our rooms. T

he home base is a large white adobe-like building with lush gardens. Our room has two bunk beds and a single but with there only being three of us sharing, we have the upper bunks for storage. They didn’t have Jill and I in the same room initially but we agreed we wanted to be together and one of our trip mates was kind enough to offer to switch. So day one – first night, we popped our malaria meds, brushed our teeth, climbed under our mosquito nets and fell into a ragged sleep.

Bunk beds - just like camp!
Closet space
Our beautiful home base
The outdoor kitchen where Primo worked his magic

Monday, November 4, 2013


Photo courtesy of Good Hope Facebook page
Finally, the moment I have been waiting for -- getting an email from CCS telling me what my volunteer work assignment will be in Moshi Tanzania. I could barely control the adrenaline rush as I opened the attachment. The CCS team matches your skills and interests with the volunteer needs of the service organizations. I had hoped to work in the HIV/AIDS support group, and my wish was granted.

I am assigned to the Good Hope Support Organization in Moshi. They provide education, skills, knowledge, support, comfort, safety, and love to children infected or affected with HIV/AIDS, orphans, people suffering from illness, and the disadvantaged to help them create an empowering life of hope. There are young children and youth in the community who are not able to attend secondary school, and this group also helps provide them with Nursery education and English instruction respectively.

I am not sure if I will have much to offer but one thing I know for sure, I will take away more than I leave. I have so much to learn. I can't put into words how I am feeling -- my anticipation and excitement is larger than life right now.

Jill has her own assignment (I'll let her tell you about it) so I can only imagine the exchange we will have in the afternoons. Double the pleasure!

Hard to believe that in a few short days we will board the plane for Tanzania - and return a few weeks later, changed forever, with the imprint of Africa on our hearts.

Everything is possible.