Without Borders...

Abby and Sara have been best friends since they met in the dorms at Colorado State University in 2002. Each year since then, they have been on at least one trip together, with the last few years consisting of backpacking travels through Europe.

In 2010, they decided to put their desire to see the world towards a more constructive cause. Instead of taking an adventurous vacation, they chose to visit Tanzania and volunteer with Light in Africa for five weeks.

This winter, they are going back to Light in Africa to volunteer for another five weeks, and can't wait to see how much "their" kids have grown!

Monday, December 10, 2012

21 deep in a land rover – this is the Tanzania I remember.

 We have now been in Tanzania for 2 weeks and during the time, I kept thinking, wow, Tanzania has definitely changed in two years. Here, we now have hot water, coffee, breakfasts that don’t only include peanut butter and white bread, and even Internet. There are now tuc-tucs (the rickshaws from India) to take us to the little town Boma, so we don’t have to walk the 30 minutes to get there. And, we have only see one cockroach and what was most likely a tarantula, but not near the creatures we were used to having in our rooms two years ago.
Getting medicine ready to be distributed

Well, Friday, on our way back from Mirerani, I was quickly reminded where I was. We were in Mirerani to put on a medical dispensary for the people of the town, who don’t generally have access to medical services, let alone free medical services. We were able to help over 100 people, mostly provided them drugs for Malaria, respiratory illnesses and infections as a result of weakened immune systems due to HIV/AIDS.

Playing with the food kitchen kids
The dispensary took place at the Light in Africa food kitchen. We were also able to help out there, where about 300 kids are fed generally their only meal of the day. The kids names are recorded and they are given a big helping of maconde (a mix of beans and maize), a piece of fruit, and a glass of water. Somehow, however, on Friday, the food kitchen was quite full and the food ran out with about 20 kids left. Sara and I’s hearts just broke seeing the kids peering through the holes in the wall, hoping to still get in. They were given water and piece of fruit, but we were just aching thinking that might have to hold them over until the next day. Ramesha told us, that the food kitchen was unusually busy that day – probably because they knew we were there – and normally there is enough food. That helped calm us a little bit.
Sara's new buddies

These people of Mirerani also do not have access to these medical services or much food, as the only way to reach this town is a bumpy Land Rover ride, which are obviously few are far between for these folks. So after the dispensary, we hoped in the public transport of a Land Rover. For 2,500 shillings each (about the equivalent of $1.75), we were able to get back from Mirerani, along with 21 other people in a normal sized Land Rover. At first, the four of us climbed in the back (trunk) sitting on the ledges which were little benches. That was already cozy. Then, another 2 men came in the back and sat on the benches. That was just squished. Then 2 other men came and stood with their heads out of the tops. That got claustrophobic. I thought, alright nice and full, let’s get on with it. And then we picked up 2 more women (who were not petite), who also stood – making it 10 in the trunk and a driver’s helper hanging out the top. I felt nauseous and obviously not too thrilled about the safety situation on this unkept, dirt road – contemplating where to hurl if needed. I decided in my hands would be the best bet.

The back of a Land Rover, where we had actually 10 people
But, 30 minutes, several bruises, pretty intense back pain, fallen-asleep limbs, and sweat-filled (probably not just my own sweat), we arrived to the bus station back to Boma, all in one piece. I remember thinking – yep, that’s the Tanzania I remember. And, these people have to do this everyday – what a different world. And in case you were wondering, we now have discovered more creatures too, further confirming for me that Tanzania is still Tanzania, but more on that later!

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