Tuesday, July 7, 2009

End of the journey...

I am back home, safe and sound. Tanzania and the people that live there will forever be etched in my memory and heart. I hope to return again someday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


More pics from the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater (first 5). The next are: me and my buddy Godluck, a school in Bagamoyo, me and some kids at the women's co-op, and the loom making scarves and blankets at the co-op

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Swahili Coast

I have experienced so much since the game parks 10 days ago. I have travelled to remoted places with no internet service, or very limited service, so an update on my blog is long overdue.

From Bagamoyo to the Kilwa ruins to the Sultan paradise of Zanzibar, I am awestruck by the pure beauty of this country and the overwhelming hospitality of Tanzanians. I have truly fell in love with Africa, especially the Swahili culture. Zanzibar was just amazing. The mixture of African, Indian, Persian, and Arabic cultures - all speaking Swahili - was quite a sight to see. I have always considered myself an open-minded guy, but being in a Muslim dominated area broadened my view about the Muslim community. Maybe it's Zanzibar, with such a diverse group of people speaking a common language, or the island lifestyle, or Obama being president - whatever it is, the people were incredibly tolerant and welcomed us with opened arms .

It is so difficult to express in words the feelings I have for this country. Of course I will upload pictures soon (later in the day today, so check back in a few), but how do you capture the feeling you have when close to 1,000 school children sing and dance for you as they welcome you into their school? How do I write how it made me feel when I visited the Ministry of Education and they expressed how they would like for me to come back soon to conduct teacher workshops regarding counseling and working with familes? And the time when a poor teacher from a community school who is so interested in starting a country-wide initative to get counseling in all Tanzanian schools walked nearly 5 kilometers to hear me speak to a group of teachers? It is quite overwhelming. This is Tanzania.

So, yes, I visited the ruins of Kilwa that date back to the 14th and 15th centuries - some of the oldest Mosques and Sultan palaces in East Africa. Yes, I saw Stone Town and the beautiful island of Zanzibar. But, it's the people here that has made this trip fantastic. The school I mentioned where the students sang and danced for us did that out of their own pure hearts. It's not like we worked there for a few days and they threw us a celebration. We just visited a school in a small village in Zanzibar for the afternoon and they greeted us like royalty. They spoke to us about their village and their school, opening their hearts to us and saying repeatedly that we are always welcome to visit or stay in Muyuni.

I can go on and on. I guess all I have to say at this point is visit East Africa. Take a plunge into the Motherland. With all the ills that plague this beautiful continent - AIDS, poverty, access to education, etc - it is rich in so many other ways. The greatest natural resource this country has is the people, especially the children. They are eager to learn, eager to educate themselves, and eager to move forward in a positive way that will benefit Africa and the world.

All for now,


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti....a magical last few days

What an opportunity of a lifetime - to visit a Masai tribe, to exlore the vast Ngorongoro Crater (what was once a volcano that collapsed roughly 2 million years ago), and venture to the heart of the Serengeti. Throw a birthday in there and it is almost perfect. To have Lynn with me...now that would be perfect.
This area of the world is truly majestic. The footprints of the earliest hominids are found here - 3.5 million years old. The tools and fossils of early humans (homo habilis) found here - 1.75 million years old. It is an awe inspiring spectacle of historic markings mixed with the beauty of today's Masai and abundant wildlife. The great migration of the wildebeast (over a million of them) move through the Serengeti as water moves with the monsoon seasons. We witnessed the tail end of that migration, which was incredible. Zebra, giraffe, lion, ostrich, elephant, baboon, leaopard, cheetah, hyena, rhino, hippo - to name a few - speckle the landscape as far as the eye can see.
Here are just a few pictures. More to come...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Picha (Swahili for pictures)

Mt. Kilimanjaro, Masai woman, view from community school building, our group at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, farmer's market

Kilimanjaro, mosquito net factory, schools....amazing past 3 days

It is hard to write everything that we have done in the past couple of days or so, but I will give it a try. More pictures are to follow, which is an easier way to give people a description of the beauty of this wonderful country.

We visited a mosquito net factory, where they manufacture roughly one million nets per day. This is to fight malaria, which is rampant in Africa - a preventable and treatable disease. The nets are sold to companies, institutions, and stores throughout Africa. If a women is pregnant, or if a family has children under the age of five, they are able to receive a voucher from their doctor and purchase a net for a reduced price. The A-Z factory employs around 6000 employees, which is great for the local community.

We are here in Tanzania to learn about their education system and how we can help bridge the gap between U.S. and Tanzania. We visited a few community schools. Without writing a novel about the Tanzanian education system - which is quite fascinating, but in the interest of time and continuing to keep everyone interested in my blog, I will keep it short :). Basically, community schools have been built in the last 15 or so years as a response to educate Tanzanians in rural and remote areas. The funding comes from both the government (providing teachers, some materials, etc.) with the rest of the funds coming from the community (student fees, upkeep, finishing the construction of buildings, cooking meals, materials, etc.). The problem is that they built a plethora of schools throughout Tanzania, but the funding is lacking - the government has not been able to fund what they intended to do, so the rest lies with the community. The philosophy behind the new system is valid - building more schools as an effort to help nationalize the country - but it is taking time for Tanzanians to adjust to the new system and to find resources (both monetary and physical labor).

The teachers at the schools we have visited are fascinated with counseling. I had a great discussion with a teacher today who is looking for ideas and resources to help advocate for counseling for the country. The UGA professor who is our guide on this trip plans to meet with me after the trip to discuss writing a grant for a service learning initiative - to work in Tanzania for a year working with local schools, teachers, adminstrators, and politicians. What an opportunity for Lynn and me!

All for now.....Kwaheri

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More pics...

Here are some pictures from today. We visited a local market with homework - to buy as many vegetables and fruits with 1000 Tanzanian shillings, using only Swahili and our bargaining skills. We all did pretty well. It was definitely a cultural experience. The market was so colorful - women, men, and children dressed in vibrant clothing, selling and buying their wares. It was an amazing trip and I came back with so much more than just fruits and vegetables. I came back with more knowledge of the Tanzanian culture and Swahili language.