Notes from a Gap Year Volunteer

Treena was a Gap year volunteer with us in Tanzania and she has very kindly sent us a blog with some great photos. Thanks Treena!!

Upon booking my trip to Tanzania, I felt a surge of excitement as I knew I was about to embark on one of the most incredible journeys of my life. However, as the trip drew nearer and nearer, the feelings of exhilaration were swapped for tummy-turning nerves. The prospect of spending one whole month, in a different country, with people whom I’d never even met, was daunting to say the least. So it was with shaky hands, and a high heart rate that I arrived at the airport.

The buzz of the other volunteers was contagious though, and my nerves slowly began to dissolve. Nevertheless, I have always had a shy personality and didn’t feel confident enough to approach the others. Luckily, when I did meet them, I realised just how lovely they were. This instantly caused my nerves to subside.

We spent the airport wait and the drive to camp getting to know each other, and by the time we arrived, it felt as though we had always known each other. Our first project involved building a kitchen for the “mamas” of the village. We had to get our hands dirty, and throw the mud onto the outside walls – it was so much fun! A specific highlight of the trip for me personally was not only completing the kitchen (and feeling an overwhelming sense of accomplishment) but being able to hand over the kitchen to the women; it was hugs, pictures and smiles all around.

Treena and the other Gap ladies with some of the local women

Another highlight of my trip was the safari. It was by far the most astounding experience of my life. The sight of elephants, zebras and giraffes together at the waterhole was truly breath-taking.  My absolute favourite part was seeing the prides of lionesses so close!

Not a lioness but still a very cool photo which shows the variety of wildlife to see on Safari

Still, my favourite part of being a gap year volunteer with Camps International, is the sense of community I was able to experience. I had the privilege of actually knowing the locals, rather than merely being another tourist. Seeing how little they had, yet how much they appreciated was heart-warming, put into perspective the importance of “needs” as opposed to “wants”.

Returning to the cold and gloomy days of England hasn’t been particularly easy. However, I have not only been left with post-Africa blues; I have also gained a newfound confidence. I’ve learned just how quick you can adapt to different surroundings, and how much fun it is to immerse yourself into a different culture. I know that this confidence will help me next year, when I leave for university. I’m so glad that I went on this expedition; it has allowed me to not only learn a lot about the African culture, but also a lot about myself.

Hardworking gap volunteers with some of the happy beneficiaries of their efforts

Comments

Thanks Treena sounds fantastic. Good luck at university.

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