Dubai International Academy’s (DIA) trip of Tanzania!
From the sand dunes of sunny United Arab Emirates to the muddy foothills of rainy Kilimanjaro.
I have never witnessed a group so excited about rain like DIA. We have been hosting many School expeditions over the years and one almost expects them to ask “where is the sun” when they arrive and the skies are grey. Well, it all came clear that this lot do not experience much rain, if at all any. It was great to see them celebrating with a little rain dance.
Immediately after exchanging pleasantries and the group had settled in, we took them on a familiarization tour of Mbokomu village and the school that they’ d be working at.
As the Swahili saying goes “Be a good host to your visitor on their first day, the next day give them a hoe to plough”. And so we did. Honeymoon was over, the Team was taken to Kiboriloni School to literally get their hands, shorts, t-shirts and faces dirty. They painted and drew murals on two classrooms in two days. With the short trips, students realize that they have very little time on projects and have targets to meet so what they tend to do is work their socks off on every activity that is thrown their way.
We changed the pace and engaged them in a typical Chagga (local tribe) cultural tour. The tour included helping a local lady with her daily chores such as; tending to her goats, fetching water from the stream, and farming. Basically the students get to experience a day to day life of the locals. The tour is not considered complete unless everyone is wrapped in kanga’s (sarongs) and put in the mama’s smoky little kitchen to prepare lunch for themselves. Nothing could stop them from their cookery lesson, they were brave enough to stick around the kitchen despite smoke from burning firewood causing tears and sweat dripping from their eyes and faces! Once in the village, you are considered one of them and you are expected to do what local people do including having your food while seated on a mat and using your hands to eat.
As we still had a bit of time left on our schedule, we organized a football match with a group of local boys. Although the locals are used to playing all boys teams, they did not mind playing a mixed school and it was awesome to see boys and girls sharing the same playing field, which is a rarity in these parts of the world.
The day that needed everyone to be well prepared was here. The Kidia waterfall trek. It had rained through out the night and morning so the Team woke up thinking they had got away with it. You should have seen their faces when I announced to them that the trek was still on. Whilst we waited it off, they enjoyed a trip into town and spoiled themselves with Pizza’s at Indoitaliano restaurant followed by a supermarket run to get a few goodies before heading off to Kidia. In the meantime, the staff, and especially the local guide, were doing some Chagga rituals to the gods so that they could blow away the grey cloud that was hanging over Moshi town. All the prayers and traditional chants worked. By the time the students had finished munching on their Pizza’s, the skies had cleared up and the sun was shinning.
The adventure ensued. The team had to take it slow and easy as the ground was still a bit wet and slippery and the trek was steep. With the help of the local guides, the entire Team managed to get down to the falls. Such an achievement and great feeling for the students as it was both fun and a challenge as some of them used their bottoms to climb down and the heavy rains made the waterfalls drop with such force. It was not just the trek down to the falls that took their breath away but the gauges, little farms, the beautiful, plentiful flora and fauna, greenery and the ever friendly locals who smiled and waved at the students whilst going about their daily chores.
The next day the group left bright and early to go to Tarangire National park for their safari. They saw loads of wildlife and enjoyed the game drives in their entirety.
On their return to camp, we had prepared a barbecue dinner for everyone as their last meal in Camp Tanzania. The group appreciated it very much as it was a great way to end their expedition. After dinner, the speeches ensued and we had a chance to ask the volunteers to sum up their entire trip in just one word. This is what they had to say;
It was great to see all the activities that we’d organized completed and the students and Teachers taking on all the tasks with a positive attitude and enthusiasm.
We were honored to host you and thank you for a great effort!