Hujambo from Tanzania! This week, the Tanzania Tree Huggers got to Tanzania and spent the week in Moshi. After getting off of our plane at about 9:30 PM Wednesday night, Ewald Tesha from Asante Africa picked us up and brought us to stay at Snowview Hotel in Boma N’gombe for one night before we continued onward to Moshi. We got up the next morning and after having a delicious first meal in Tanzania, we headed to tour the two schools we would be working with later on in the trip – Orkolili and Nkwamakuu. First up, we stopped at Orkolili where Mama M’cha gave us a tour of their facilities. They are a secondary school that offers vocational programs such as welding and masonry to help prepare their students for the workforce. We then headed over to Nkwamakuu where we had chai (morning tea and snacks such as fresh fruit) with the headmaster before getting a tour of their school. Both schools were not in session so we did not get a chance to meet more than just a few students at each school.
After finishing up at the school, we drove over to Moshi to get situated at the hostel we would be staying at for the next week, Old Moshi Hostel. We got to meet Eva, our wonderful host who would be helping us organize projects, excursions, and showing us the city. She is the best! After settling in to our room a bit, we went to visit Msamaria Children’s Home. Having not heard anything from Amani’s Children’s Home (one of the sites past teams had worked with), we were exploring new options for future teams. Msamaria Children’s Home was home to about 80 children who come from the streets, are orphans, or are from destructive homes who haven’t been able to be re-united with their extended families. The kids were mostly around 7-12 years old and were excited to dance with us or use Madi’s hand sanitizer. We identified a possible future project for teams to do as preparing some lessons on things such as sanitation to teach the students, a need that was expressed by the man who runs Msamaria.
The next day, Eva organized for us to head over to the Kiviwama Conservation Center to work on their tree planting project. It was a beautiful slice of the rainforest just seconds from the city center of Moshi that had a lovely river cutting through it. This project involved us being given a huge pile of native seeds and planting them in soil to start growing. Another future project for teams would be to take part in their weekly tree transport and planting at schools around Moshi as an attempt to create natural shade using local plants. It was a really cool project that we wished that we could work on more, but we lacked the necessary funds and time. After planting all of our seeds and getting an overview of the different trees and plants that they raise there, we headed back to Msamaria’s to take part in a birthday party being thrown there for one of our fellow hostel-mates. We all danced with the kids to fun renditions of “Happy Birthday” that we had never heard before, had a lunch of chicken and potatoes, and a celebratory chocolate cake. It was so fun seeing all of the kids having a such a great time!
We were off the next two days since it was the weekend and we got to enjoy a few excursions! All three of us went with the hostel to the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro and hiked the 8 km up to Mandara Hut and then headed back. It was incredible getting to experience such a iconic part of Tanzania. The next day, Emily joined the hostel in a trip to hot springs where she got to see lots of monkeys and fish that nibble on your toes.
On Monday, we met up with our professor Mary Raber to discuss our time here so far and our upcoming plans for the next few weeks. After hanging out for a bit, we went to lunch with Tesha and Eva at a local restaurant where we all tried some different Tanzanian dishes such as chips mayai (omelette with french fries) and maandazi (fried donuts).
We dropped Mary at her hotel and then headed over to check out our final site here in Moshi, the Children of Destiny Foundation children’s home. It was conveniently located just two streets away from Old Moshi Hostel and it consisted of an orphanage that took care of about 20 kids that went to Kenya for boarding school much of the year and also a daycare for local children. The orphanage had been running for about 12 years with the same group of kids growing up there as a family. The children attended boarding school in Kenya through sponsorships by people around the world because they were able to get better educations that would prepare them to go to college or enter the workforce for about half the price ($720 USD) of what it would cost to get the same type of education in Tanzania. The first of the kids to go off to college was Gideon who we had gotten to know at our hostel. The day we had arrived had been a tumultuous one, there had been a complaint about their sewage leaking so they had received fines and due to a lack of communication from some of their sponsors, the kids had missed the first week of school because they lacked the funds to attend. Spirits were overall down but Margaret, the woman who had lead the operation since the beginning, was optimistic that things would turn around as she explained some of their plans to work towards being less reliant on donations by opening a store and selling crops such as coriander, lettuce, and kale from their garden. The daycare had been created in order to help generate more money to fund the orphanage and it currently has about 15-20 kids in it, many being away during our visit because school was still out for the season so some of the parents that are teachers at the nearby school were around.
We discussed the ways in which we could work with them and it was established that we could be the most helpful by helping update their website so that it had current information in order to make it easier for potential sponsors to get involved. It was agreed between us and Margaret that the site was the most beneficial help we could give during our short time with them. In our extra time, we would help out around the preschool doing things like teaching lessons or helping with feeding them.
When we went back to Margaret’s the next day, we heard the exciting news. The students were going back to school! The Spaniards that had been staying at our hostel had given enough money to get them back into school in Kenya and all of the kids looked overjoyed. With most of the focus being needed on getting the kids ready to head out, we helped out in the daycare until lunch. For lunch, we tried out IndoItaliano, a great restaurant in downtown Moshi that lots of tourists visit for their great Indian and Italian food. Emily and Madi tried tawa chicken and butter naan while Sam and Eva had margherita pizza. We then headed to check out some of the stores and pick up some souvenirs.
The other project that we have been working on was updating Old Moshi Hostel’s website. When Madi mentioned that she was going to be working on Margaret’s site, Eva asked if we could help her on her website too as it was out of date and in need of new pictures. Wednesday morning while Sam and Emily headed back to Margaret’s, Madi worked with Eva to figure out what should be changed on the website. Overall, it gave off a better impression of what the values and goals of the hostel were and the different projects that could be done by visitors. In the future, teams could check back up with Eva and see if there is anything else she needs changed on the website.
Overall, it was a great start to our time in Tanzania! We are looking forward to everything that wiki mbili brings!