Tuesday, January 10, 2017

School Visit

Today we visited East Meru Community School to provide the children and teacher of the school with educational materials, in addition to spending time with them. The school has eight teachers and 103 students. The number of students continues to grow each year as the school expands. Currently they are in the process of creating a new classroom.  As of now the school has 7 classrooms, no power other than solar panels, and they obtain water mostly from collecting rainwater but have one underground pipe. The conditions of the school as described by one of the teachers named Absalom are “not too bad but not too good”.  The school has improved greatly since they first opened in 2007. They started out with no network for phones or internet but since then and with the generous help of people around the world they have been able to obtain such necessities and continue to provide for the children and the community that could otherwise not receive these. The community is not very well off and most families do not have the proper tools to help send their children to school or to even get work for themselves. The children must walk to school every day sometimes more than 45 minutes both ways. Therefore the children are given tea in the morning, two meals a day, and when they first start they are given two uniforms and stationary all provided to them by donations. As well as the children receiving help the community and the children’s families have been greatly affected by the school and donations/ sponsorship from those who help.  One man, a students father, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a mining accident has been given the tools and training from the school to make shoes and bind their books in order to earn income for his family and help the school.
We wanted to continue to help this amazing school and all the intelligent and adorable children gain the experience and tools they need to succeed. In order to do so we provided the children with learning sessions on how to clean their teeth correctly and wash their hands by showing them “fake germs” with a black light that they could wash away with soap and water. We also provided the older girls with Red Elephant Packs to help prepare them for the future and to teach them that there is no reason to be ashamed of their changing bodies and help them have the resources to stay healthy and in school. During all of these activities we were able to get to know the children of the school and make bracelets and crafts with them while the whole time putting a smile on their faces and our own. After the children have gone home we were able to gather the staff and teachers and give each of them a water filtration bucket and kit so they can provide fresh water to their families. One man was so happy and overwhelmed with joy that he was able to keep a bucket for himself that he started to spread tears of joy with one of our volunteers. Seeing how greatly we affected just one man’s life is the reason we give so much to them all. They let us know the other ways to help them by giving us a list of supplies they will need next time we are able to visit and gave us information on how to sponsor a child or just to donate to the school in general. We wish that everyone who donated could have seen the happy faces and joy in the eyes of all the children when they were provided with what we brought them. We also wish that our donators could have felt the warmth in their hearts as they hugged us goodbye. This school started out from just a small piece of land and has grown exponentially however they could still use all the help they can get to continue to provide for the future scholars and their families.

Chapati! (Pancakes) Laura Jones and Jenn Percy

Monday, January 9, 2017


Today we headed to an orphanage/school that supports special needs children of Tanzania. The group prepared for the day by reviewing the skills of the programs, which included the Red Elephant Project and the Soul Mate Project. We had an early start this morning so to arrive early enough to make sure we were able to complete all of our wanted projects to make sure all of the wonderful donated items made to the needed children at the orphanage.
Upon arrival at the orphanage, which was a gated community, we were greeted by the head sister of the facility who seemed untrusting of our arrival. She explained to the group that today was their first day back and they were very busy with the officials. She hesitantly let us continue to begin our first project and would see how it went from there.
We began with the Soul Mate Project, where we fit the needed children who don’t have any shoes or shoes that are completely worn/broken get “new” shoes with socks to protect their feet against the environmental elements, worms, fungi, and bacteria. The first children to line up had no shoes on. They had to cross twigs, rocks, dirt and straw-like grass just to get in line with little feet desperately needing protection. Some had injuries from this lack of shoes. This project was overwhelming and fulfilling to do with the children, the simplicity of giving them shoes to wear which many of us in America take for granted was a complete joy for them and us. We were able to distribute shoes and socks for about 240-250 children. It just reminded us of how imperative this project is to continue.
The sister was pleased with our work and luckily we were able to continue the Red Elephant Project which was developed to teach girls who are menstruating about proper hygiene during that period of time and help with issues dignity. The goal of Red Elephant is to provide girls with the supplies they need to keep themselves in school during their periods. Missed school days is very common on a monthly basis for many females who do not have access to hygiene products. The group was able to teach the girls background information about women’s health and the process of how to use the supplies kits properly. With the help of translators and female teachers, who were very interested in being involved, our project was a success and they were able to distribute many of the kits. Some of the girls expressed interest in being teachers, doctors and lawyers. 
Since it was not necessary for all of us to teach the Red Elephant Project, a few of us were building soccer goals and playing with the children while others provided additional medical care. We left both of the goals that we brought and three soccer balls. The kids were thrilled to have new soccer equipment and were playing with it all immediately. At the same time, some of us spent some quality time with younger children making beaded bracelets that they all adored.
Soon it was lunchtime for the kids and the sister wanted to show us their dining area. We were shocked at the poor condition of their lunchroom, and the sister was saddened by how inadequate it was. She stressed the need for better dining and dormitory facilities and mentioned that they needed assistance with the construction.
We left the orphanage knowing that we made a difference in some children’s lives. We never would have been able to help any of the children without the support and generous donations. The orphanage was truly an eye opening experience for us all, leaving us thankful for everything we have in our lives, especially the opportunities we are given on this trip. The children truly touched our hearts and we are so happy to have been able to make a difference for them.

Asante Sana (Thank you) - Samantha and Korrie

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Umoja (Unity) Day

We began our day with an early breakfast at 7 am, planning to leave for a catholic service at 8 am.  We were running late this morning leaving our lodge just a few minutes before the service began, but luckily we were running in Africa time and were just on schedule.

On the drive to church, we had a beautiful view of Mount Kilimanjaro. It was an amazing sight to see it peaking out from the clouds! Once we arrived at church, we noticed many similarities to Catholic service in the United States: the mass was structured and given in English, there was an offering period, and we were to anoint ourselves upon entering with holy and genuflect before we entered the pews. The main difference was women and men sat separately, with men on the right divide of the pews and women on the left. The school children clustered in the front and sang the songs which were accompanied by drums and clapping by the congregation. Also, the men and women showed great respect for the church by wearing their best attire, women in dresses and men in dress slacks and button downs. Lastly, the communion was given first to the elders, then middle and young adults, and children last. Our experience at our first African Catholic mass was beautiful and extremely interesting, and we were very grateful for the opportunity to attend and become immersed in the culture.

            Our next stop was the coffee plantation where we learned the process of making a cup of coffee from start to finish. In total it is a six-step process in making an Arabica cup of coffee. The plantation we visited was a community-run farm passed from generation to generation. Our guide showed us each step, starting from planting to the final step of grinding and everything in between, the end product being the best cup of coffee we had ever had! We finished our time on the plantation with a meal given to us by our guides, which included a dish of banana soup-which tastes nothing like you think it would! Our meal was interrupted by a rainstorm, which was pretty great to see considering Tanzania is currently experiencing a drought. We’re sure it was a welcomed surprise by the Tanzanian people because the drought has had a devastating effect on the production of crops and therefore an effect on their income and food sources. The rain only lasted a short period time-our day was still defined by the beating sunrays and 90 degree F weather. This inspired the motto that the team goes by: “see a chug, send a chug” to remind us to drink our water and stay hydrated!

            Now that we have gained perspective on the culture over the last three days, we are ready to perform the work we came to do. We practiced our projects for an orphanage, school, and community center that we will be visiting. After the training, we ate a delicious supper and got to further expand our cultural immersion by participating in a “dance party” with a neighboring tribe. An important part of their culture is to dance, sing, and make music and they were very excited to share that with us, as much as we were excited to learn and join them.
            It was another great day in Tanzania, and we can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Umoja! (unity)- Anabel and Laney

(again photos are a challenge to load. 
We have posted some on Facebook on the Hope Without Borders  - USA/Intl. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Cultural Preparation

In preparation for our community service work, we learned about the culture and the people we will be serving. We had a day filled with many adventures, including a trip to the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Ndoro waterfall, Chagga caves, and a potential site for future community outreach programs.

In order to reach Kilimanjaro, we had to drive through the busy city and up a winding road through the mountains where we saw many small homes and communities. We saw many local people walking in the streets with their families selling food and other items as well as going about their daily lives. It was really interesting to see the villages on the mountainside. It is really hard to grasp that so many people live so far away from the city and have to climb up a steep incline just to leave their village. When we arrived at Kilimanjaro, one our tour guides gave us an in depth explanation of the routes and the team of people needed to guide people to the top of the mountain, which usually takes 7-8 days. He explained that there are many routes to reach the top, but only one to descend.

Next we drove to the Ndoro waterfall. We were greeted at the entrance by a group of three young men were going to guide us down to the waterfall. They handed out walking sticks and we began our descent. They told us to be “pole pole”, which means slow on our trip down the rocky path. As soon as we began walking on the path, we were able to hear the roaring water of the waterfall; this made us all more eager to reach the bottom. Once we reached the bottom, we saw a beautiful waterfall towering above us accompanied by the sound of rushing water. We were able to swim and stand under the waterfall. Although the water was cold, it was refreshing after a hike in 90-degree weather. After swimming, we took a steep treacherous hike back to the top hoping not to fall over the edge of the path.

Following our trip to the waterfall, we headed to the Chagga caves. We gathered around and listened to the guide tell us the history of the caves and the Chagga people. We learned that the Chagga mountain people originally built the caves because the Maasai, who lived on the lower lands, would attack the Chagga people during droughts. The Chagga people were able to farm and raise animals during droughts because they lived higher on the mountain, so the Maasai would come and try to steal from them during desperate times. The caves took the people 54 years to build, which was a whole underground village that held not only families, but also animals and food. The Maasai people found out about the caves and tried to attack by flooding the caves, but the Chagga were able to build tunnels to drain the water to the river. Once the Maasai learned that the Chagga people survived the drought, they tried to smoke the people out of the caves using spicy chili pepper and tobacco smoke, which the Chagga again were able to dodge the attack by making holes to the surface for ventilation and blocking the entrance of the cave with cowhides. This was the last attack on the Chagga people for 200 years when Tanzania became a separate country and conflict was resolved between the tribes. It was amazing to actually be able to go into the caves and see the entrance where the Chagga warriors hid to prevent attacks from the Maassai people by using “skull crushers”, which were wooden clubs to fend off the attackers. We also saw rooms where families stayed, each of which had holes to the surface for ventilation and then saw two separate pathways, one which lead to the river, and one which led to the underground village. There is a part of the cave no longer existing because it’s not in use, but could fit 60 families. We then continued our journey through the winding cave in which we saw bats and then finally climbed up a ladder to the outside world again.

We then went to a village where we hope to do community outreach in the future. The village has about 350 families and has a dispensary, which is their community center. Here, people can seek medical treatment if they are sick. Throughout the village, we saw people in drastically different living situations. Some people had houses made of brick while others had houses made of sticks and scraps of linens. Many people in the village farm. The village seems to work together to provide for every member.

Lala Salama (Good night- time for bed), 

Gabby & Kayla

(pictures won't load tonight - will try to add them when connection is better)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Market Challenge

Today was our first official day in Africa. We still cannot process the fact that we are actually here! We had our first breakfast and purchased bottles of water to keep hydrated. The cost of one bottle of water came to 2500 shillings which is roughly $1.75 USD. This currency became very useful throughout the rest of the day since we referenced back to in whenever making purchases. In other words, after purchasing something we would stop and think "hmmm, that's about 4 bottles of water."

Before going to the market, we wanted to do our own little simulation of what Living on a Dollar a Day would be like. This idea came from the movie Living on a Dollar a Day where a group of college students went to Guatemala to experience first hand what it is like to live in such conditions. This movie was very inspiring to all of us, and we all wanted to experience what it is like. To do this, before heading to the market we were divided up into three groups and were assigned one of three case studies. These case studies portrayed different living situations including family size and income. Such case studies included a family of 6 with one on the way and their income was $1.50 USD a day. With the given case study, we then had to go to the market and try to purchase enough food to feed all of the family members.

The market itself was chaotic. Since it was a Friday, it was very busy and lots of people were present. Trying to weave through the crowd was nearly impossible and there were vendors set up every where you looked.  Most vendors were selling fruits, vegetables, rice, etc. and some also sold shoes, backpacks, jewelry, etc. We went to different stands and tried simulating our case studies.  As expected we could hardly purchase anything with a dollar. Relating back to the previous case study, we were only able to buy beans and bananas for the simulated family of 6.

When we returned we began preparing for the next day at the community center.  This entailed reorganizing all 28 bags of generous donations which will be a blessing to all. Being in Africa is still surreal to all of us, and we are all still trying to take it all in. We are so happy to have this opportunity! We cannot wait to see what our following days here will bring.

Baraka (blessings in Swahili),

- Vanessa & Alondra

Thursday, January 5, 2017

We have arrived! It was quite a long journey. We loaded up the van and got to the lodge around 1 am.  Everyone is safe and sound :) We are all well rested and ready for our day at the market!

Friday, December 9, 2016


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Welcome (Karibu) to the Hope Without Borders - Tanzania 2017 Team travel blog! We welcome travelers, friends and family to follow us on our trip. We are committed to bring HOPE to communities in need by providing education, medical care and clean water. 

We are very excited about our upcoming trip in January. We will depart in less than a month for Africa. The trip of a lifetime will be here before we know it!

By following the blog, you can access our stories & daily accounts of our travel. You can sign up for automatic updates from the blog in the upper right corner. This is the easiest way to share the adventure with us.

We plan to update the blog on a daily basis. At times, we will be without Internet. Do not be alarmed! This does happen from time to time. On those days, we will update the blog as soon as we are able to access the Internet.

A different pair of team members will update the blog every evening. Watch for the posts from your family & friends! We will be able to view comments made in response to our posts & will share them with team members.

More to come! You can expect to hear stories about experiencing culture, community development, medical outreach, school & orphanage visits, a waterfall hike, Chagga Cave exploration, meeting a Maasai tribe, learning from coffee farmers, African dance lessons, adventures on Safari and many more topics!


To learn more about Hope Without Borders, please visit us at http://hwb-intl.org

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