Category: 2019

Wiki Tano – Kwaheri Tanzania

Hujambo from Tanzania! This week, the Tanzania Tree Huggers finished up our work Orkolili secondary school. During our final days in Tanzania, we continued to teach English at Orkolili and observe more classes. Friday was an exam day for them so we were told not to come in. We took up having a long weekend as the chance to head back to Moshi and visit the project sites we had been working at previously. We spent Friday and much of Saturday at both Margaret’s and Msamaria brainstorming project ideas for next year’s team to work on.

On Sunday, we went on an excursion with some of the other people staying at Eva’s to the base of Kilimanjaro, a local Chagga museum, a coffee plantation, Chagga caves, and a big waterfall. It was a great last big trip to do in Tanzania that allowed us to learn more about the local tribes.

Monday was still exams at Orkolili so we took the morning slow before eventually going into school. Once there, we were finally able to meet with Tom, Mama M’cha’s son who helps manage the school. He helped explain to us how their water system works and the plans for the rainwater storage system that they are currently building. Emily was able to provide some input into the water system since that is her specialty and Tom set us up a trip to the local water filtration plant to tour the facilities and ask some questions that might help Orkolili establish the safety of the water that they use. After our talk with Tom, we met another volunteer visiting from England who was starting out her four week stay here teaching sports. She had set up a ping pong table so we watched a few rounds before heading home for the day.

We headed to Orkolili bright and early on Tuesday to finish up working on PowerPoint we were creating on engaging teaching techniques before heading off to learn more about Boma’s water system. It was a great experience to get to learn about where their water comes from and how it is treated.

For our final day, we headed to Snowview Hotel to work on finishing up some homework and to relax! Our flight did not leave until 9 PM so we enjoyed the last moments of our trip before heading off to go home. It was such a great experience and we were really sad to leave Tanzania and all of the amazing people we met along the way!


Wiki Nne – More Fun at Orkolili

Hujambo from Tanzania! This week, the Tanzania Tree Huggers continued our work at Orkolili secondary school! On Thursday, we were planning on attending day two at the Nelson Mandela Institute but unfortunately, the school decided not to return so instead, we spent the day observing classes such as form I English and English literature (approximately eighth grade), form IV mathematics, and form IV biology. These observations at least gave us a basic understanding of how classes at Orkolili function and what kinds of methods are being used there.

Friday was a shorter day for us since Friday afternoons are dedicated to religious studies in Swahili which they sent us home before but it was also our first day teaching there. We were popped into form I English again for the 80 minute block where we had the students create and present dialogues focusing on going to the market, read a part of the book that they had been reading the previous day (Hawa the Bus Driver), and played two rounds of “Simon Says” to practice both English and commands, something they had also been discussing the previous day.

On Saturday, we went back to Arusha one final time to explore a bit more and meet up with Brenda, a contact who had previously gotten her PhD at Michigan Tech before moving to Tanzania to work. We met up with her at a coffee shop and discussed both her experiences and ours. Afterwards, we did a bit more shopping for souvenirs before heading back to Boma where we spent the rest of the weekend relaxing.

For the remainder of the week, we pretty much repeated the same routine of going to school, teaching a class English, and then observing some classes. It was great getting to chat with the students after class about both our lives in the U.S. and their lives here in Tanzania. Learning what we can from the students is one of our favorite parts of being in the schools.

Week four turned out pretty good! On to the final week in Tanzania!


Wiki Tatu – Finishing up at Nkwamakuu and Nelson Mandela Week

Hujambo from Tanzania! This week, the Tanzania Tree Huggers finished up our time at Nkwamakuu primary school and attended a STEM conference. On Thursday and Friday, we continued to work in classrooms on English and math activities that seemed to be real hits along with observing classes in order to continue to learn about the methods of teaching that are currently in use at Nkwamakuu.

On Saturday, we hit the town and took a bus to Arusha to do some shopping and have lunch. We met up with Charles from Asante Africa and he showed us their offices before we headed to a Maasai market. After we picked up a few things, we wandered around downtown before stopping for lunch at a local restaurant. It was cool getting to experience such a big city after having been living in tiny Boma Ng’ombe for so long at this point.

We spent Sunday resting up while Sam was recovering from being sick before heading into school on Monday and Tuesday to finish up teaching, observing, and handing over information that Andrew from the 2018 Tanzamaniacs team had worked on during the year to go with his tippy-tap hand washing stations. The posters he made were in both Swahili and English with instructions on how best to wash your hands and the reasons to do so.

It was so hard to say good-bye to everyone at Nkwamakuu that last day. We were given about 3 rounds of hugs and a million rounds of patty cake before we took off for the final time. It was an incredible experience getting to be at their school and we appreciated the hospitality we were given each and every day.

Wednesday was a special day for us because we were able to go with Orkolili secondary school to the Nelson Mandela Institute near Arusha for their annual STEM conference and science fair during Nelson Mandela week. The event was focused on encouraging girls to go into STEM fields as a career and to make it seem more approachable to them. We listened to a variety of speakers such as the ambassador to Tanzania from South Africa, current graduate students doing research and pursuing their degrees as the Nelson Mandela Institute, and faculty there sharing everything from their stories to tips and tricks for doing well in STEM classes. While the girls were all working on the final activity, we got the chance to tour some of their labs with a current masters student. We were able to meet others doing research into reusing charcoal, trying to produce disease resistant bananas, removing fluoride from water, using artificial intelligence to tell whether tomato plants were suffering from diseases, and more.

Week three was another great one! We can’t wait to see what will be in store for us week four!


Wiki Mbili – The Tanzania Tree Huggers Get to Boma

Hujambo from Tanzania! This week, the Tanzania Tree Huggers moved to Boma Ng’ombe where we will be staying for the remainder of the trip. On Friday, we said our good-byes at Old Moshi Hostel and Tesha picked us up. We would be staying at John’s house, a friendly man with a passion for gardening, for the next 3.5 weeks. It was exciting getting to start this leg of the trip because we knew that we were going to have a great time working at both Nkwamakuu primary school and Orkolili secondary school.

On saturday, we got to go on one of the most exciting parts of the trip – a safari! We headed to Snowview Hotel to meet the tour guide before dawn before heading to Arusha (about an hour away) to pick up Mary who had just come in from Kenya the night before. Our guide picked up our lunchboxes and we were off to Tarangire National Park. It was about 2 hours further but along the way, we got to see Maasai herding their cows and a lot of the more rural parts of Tanzania. On the safari, we saw wildebeests, ostriches, antelope, elephants, giraffes, cheetah, a whole bunch of zebras, and nine lions! A monkey even managed to steal Madi’s sandwich!

After such an eventful day, we mostly used Sunday to rest up before starting in the schools that week. Monday was dedicated to going to the district office for the schools and talking to the folks over at Nkwamakuu and Orkolili about what their expectations and goals were for our time with them. Nkwamakuu encouraged us to pursue a project of our choice and to teach everyday while Orkolili invited us to attend a science fair with them in Moshi, teach, and help teach a class on PowerPoint to teachers the following day.

Tuesday was our first real day in the school and it was a whirlwind. We started the day by giving lessons in mathematics and science to the standard seven class at Nkwamakuu before jumping in a bajaji and heading to Orkolili. We spent 3.5 hours working with the teachers on their PowerPoint skills and then they created a slideshow to present to the group about the topic they normally teach. There was a lot of enthusiasm from some of the teachers who did not have much prior experience with PowerPoint but saw how it could be beneficial to their arsenal of teaching methods.

Wednesday was the first day that we got to spend entirely at Nkwamakuu. We planned to go back to the standard seven class and work on english and mathematics. The activity that we had planned to make teaching english more engaging was to play a form of charades where the students got to act out things written on the board like animals, activities, and responsibilities. One of our favorites was the group of students acting out elephant turned their school sweaters into trunks. After our lessons, we enjoyed breakfast before going and observing standard four, the class we were planning on teaching next. We wanted to get a feel for what they were learning and what methods the teachers used so we sat in on mathematics and swahili. Before heading out, we had some lunch and played a million rounds of patty cake with the kids!

Week two was an exciting one! We can’t wait to see what will be in store for us week three!


Wiki Moja – The Tanzania Tree Huggers Get to Moshi

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!