First Day in Tanzania


Salamu kutoka Arusha; Greetings from Arusha 

I do not have wifi and am only on a SIM, so my communication with everyone will be limited. 

I figured I could use email as a slight diary and update to those who graciously donated. Now I can see that we all are helping a very good cause. 

I’ve had family members tell me to volunteer in my own backyard rather than travelling across the world. Of course I have given back to my own community. I’ve fed the homeless countless times, for 3 years in Highschool and University I volunteered at the Abbotsford hospital and have renovated homes with AOK for a decade. 

Those years back home, as well as feeding the few homeless of Japan has only somewhat prepared me for this. 

Many of the other volunteers have chosen to teach children English and it’s a very fun loving experience. My housemate is a nurse from Toronto who has shared some extremely traumatic stories with me. There are many levels to this program and many services they offer. Mine is a women’s empowerment program. I will go in tomorrow for my first day in placement and I’m excited to connect with these strong women who’ve experienced extreme hardships. There is a tribe nearby that practices circumcision for men and women when they are in their late teens, if they do not want to participate they are exiled, if they do participate, they face a possible death from bleeding out or infection. Learning about this has been eye-opening, but the Tanzania in Government has made it illegal to perform female circumcision, hopefully these tribes will eventually eradicate this tradition. 

Yesterday, I went to a market where I purchased fresh lemongrass, local coffee and something from a local medicine man who claims to have a natural cure for malaria… Hopefully I don’t need to use it but I have it in my back pocket just in case. 

Last night was my first night sleeping here. I was walking back in the pitch black because of the power being shut off from the government conserving energy. This has been happening for the past 6 months and was supposed to be solved within a few weeks. 

I woke up this morning and was relieved  to charge my phone, turn on the water and have a nice cold shower (no hot water here). Learning to appreciate what I have here as well as what I have in the western world. 

I’ve met lots of volunteers in their late teens-early 20’s as well as in their 60’s. I’m kind of chilling with the older crowd because I’m planning to take it easy and not party like the younger groups seem to want. 

This trip I will have to unlearn the lessons I’ve had drilled in my head from Japan, always be 15 minutes early, always shower before bed and always work harder than you need too. “Pole pole” means take it slow. That’s what I’m planning to do, I’ve heard about another program with special needs kids, I’ll be going there some evenings because no one else has signed up for it! Also, when they say they will come pick you up at 18:00 but don’t show up until 19:00 it’s okay, pole pole, no stress, we are on African time. 

A month of limited wifi and 5 hours a day of volunteering will allow me time and space to think, read, edit and write. I also think I’m going to learn some Swahili because I can use it in Rwanda and possibly in the future if I decide to come back to east Africa for my next volunteer program. 

I’m flying out of Zanzibar and I was going to see if a hotel would sponsor my stay in exchange for content creation… However, I haven’t heard back about the collaboration opportunity. I heard about a sea turtle volunteer program but apparently they aren’t hatching just yet so there isn’t much work to do. What I am already thinking after just one day of being here is extending my stay by a week and sticking it out with my program.

Thank you so much for helping me help these women and the other members of this community.

If you or anyone you know has the means to help support this journey please feel free to donate to the link, I will put the funds towards the local projects here that I am going to donate my time and efforts.

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