Esther

Esther’s Blog

September 2018

I feel very happy and lucky to get MAD Scholarship as I can pursue my dreams and explore knowledge in various ways. Through that, I can assist my community to eliminate different problems that prevail in it, for example, poor educational systems and facilities.

Many things have changed since I joined MAD. I go to an international school which is like a dream comes true. Studying in International school Moshi opened me up to diversity, being open-minded and a risk taker. I get all my necessities which I am very grateful for that.

Before joining MAD, I wanted to go to school and I used to go to a public school. I worked hard so that I can achieve my ambitions and luckily I got a scholarship which has greatly intrigued my drive as now I can concentrate more on my studies.

I am excited about the future as I get to live my dreams and assist the ones in need with the achievements I gained. I don’t want to be scared although I sometimes do, thinking of all responsibilities as an adult, I want to face the future with positivity and great energy.

I believe education is the key to success and liberty. This motivates me to go to school so as I can be successful and liberty myself and others.

Life in the village is more traditional as there are no many social services like schools, health centers, infrastructure, and electricity. People rely on agriculture as their source of income and food.

My current favorite classes at school are economics and chemistry, and my most challenging class is physics

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Mwenda, Volunteers of MAD

Visiting The Family Farm

Today in Tanzania, we met the family of Stanley, a student sponsored by Make A Difference Now. He is getting ready to attend college later in August. We went to his family farm. His grandparents were so kind to us and told us more about the value of hard work they have taught Stanley, having a motto of “work hard, no talking!”

 

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They beamed with pride as they talked about their grandson and the future he has in university after coming from a life of poverty.

Stanley (when on school breaks) and his grandparents wake up early to take care of the animals they have and then begin the physical labor of caring for two different plots of land- one right by their house where they have bananas, avocados (yum!!!) and yams planted. They must walk an hour and a half to get to the other plot of land where they grow corn, beans and sunflowers for oil. Can you imagine walking an hour and a half to work? Most of what they raise is for their family to eat, but they are able to sell some crops. Each year this little money they raise helps them to afford improvements to their house including a new toilet and some more bricks for a house they are trying to build slowly. It has taken a number of years. Their current home has many cracks, but has weathered many storms. It was built by Stanley’s grandfathers’ great grandfather!

*Pictured are Sean and Grace helping with farm chores: planting a banana tree and feeding goats. Stanley also showed us the long process of growing coffee, preparing it in a mortar and pestle, roasting it, and then grinding it in a mortar and pestle once again.

Volunteers of MAD

Reflections from a Family Volunteering Together in Africa

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We end our time in Africa in Zanzibar on the Indian Ocean coast. We have been talking to our children over the past few days to hear what their reflections have been from this experience. We thought you might like to hear their thoughts. Here is what they had to say:

The problems we are often facing many days are not nearly as difficult as the ones many of the friends we have made in Africa have faced.      

– Grace

We see a happiness amongst many people here, despite the lack of material goods. 

The world is so much bigger than the U.S.   

– Sean

We watched CNN International the other day and a number of U.S. politicians were calling each other names. This all seems so insignificant in light of the events of the world – poverty, infrastructure collapses, global economic trade issues, etc . We’ve been able to watch international news while here which lets us learn about and see the events that are taking place around the world.

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I know we have been so fortunate to be blessed to be able to come on this trip. I’m thankful to God for allowing this trip to happen. It’s been a prayer for many years that we would be able to return to Africa and show our children what life is like in a place so different from where they live. We wanted to shape them into the people we hope they will be- ready to see the needs of others and ready to understand a broader worldview than simply what they see in front of them. We also wanted them to see the wildlife that’s here, because that is simply quite awesome! Thank you to those who have walked alongside of us, prayed for our safety and supported the work of Make A Difference Now at the beginning of our trip through your donations of books, shoes, underwear and school supplies. Please pray that we will remember the lessons we have learned going forward.

 

Volunteers of MAD

Volunteering as a Family in Tanzania, Africa

How do you describe such a great day? We had our last full day in Moshi with Make A Difference Now. We were able to use the extra funds that came in from the book fundraiser to purchase more books for the Royal School (biology, commerce, and bookkeeping) and to assist a local public secondary school, the Rau School, that has many dedicated teachers and a head of school. In total, over 350 books were donated! Both schools said their priority needs were school books.

Unlike the US, the ratio of books to students is 1 for every 15 students now that students have new textbooks.

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We bought up to 4 copies of each needed book and they are stored in a library. The students check them out and take notes to share with other students as a way to make the books help an entire secondary school. One copy is also used by a teacher. We are so grateful to be able to be the means by which you have shared your resources and kindness.

I’m also posting pictures of some of the friends we made in Moshi that made our trip possible. Janeth is the administrator (pictured with Yetta and Grace below) and has planned many details of our trip.

 

Pina is the cook and makes so many wonderful meals and has shown us how to make Tanzanian food! We will have to make it for many of you!

Stanley has accompanied us to many places and is a wonderful friend helping us to understand the culture and Swahili.

Paul is the driver and has taken us many places and offers us helpful advice. We have enjoyed playing board games in the evening with Revo. He is the oldest of the students in the program and he has accomplished much. He is presently in his Sophomore year at Duke University in South Carolina on a full ride scholarship. It’s been a pleasure to get to know him! Last, we are so thankful for Theresa Grant, who founded Make A Difference Now and has done such great work to both improve the lives of 26 students who have started off in poverty, but is also helping to improve schools in the area.

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From here, we are headed on safari to see some wildlife and are looking forward to this part of our journey, but will miss our new friends in Moshi!

MAD & SFDC Volunteering

Experience and Insights from Volunteering in Tanzania – Leslie Prevish

In four decades of life, I’ve been fortunate to visit many countries and learn first-hand about other cultures. When I arrived in Tanzania last September, I wondered what effect volunteering would have on myself and others here in Tanzania. As I finish up my five months, I know the experiences I’ve gained will help me both personally, and professionally. I’ve outlined some popular questions, and the answers and clarity I now have…

 Will you come back the same person?

Living in the moment here is a necessity. I’ve learned you also need to be flexible and understand that change happens on a whole different timeline. I think I’ve become more tolerant of situations I have no control over, such as electricity, water, internet and the laid-back “Tanzanian time”!

My time in Tanzania has made me appreciate the basics in life, sift through my “needs vs. wants,” and appreciate simple beauty. Each day more colored flowers appear on the trees here…purple, blue, orange and now yellow. It’s winter back home in Pennsylvania. I am grinning as I think about how sparkly, yet serene, the evergreens will be the morning after a snowfall. I can’t wait to make snow angels with my niece and nephew!

What will you miss most?

As I am packing to return to the States, I keep shedding tears on what—and WHO—I’ll miss. The children at the orphanage are such characters! It was energizing to watch their young eyes light up as they learned to ride horses. I did a Kilimanjaro fundraising climb and my friends and family donated $7200, which will provide sport and health programs for the entire year! When I saw photos of the children’s desperate situations before MAD, I realized how life-changing this organization really is, and how much I want to help improve their lives.

I’ll also miss…Theresa, who I truly admire and am blessed to call a friend…Pina at the MAD Guest House, singing and smiling all day long (her chapatti is delicious!)…and the strong community here, available 24/7, to lean on for support. They have been so welcoming to open their doors for holiday dinners and inspiring conversations.

What will you do when you come back?

I’m excited to start the next phase of my life, filled to the brim with experiences and ideas. As I start my business as a marketing consultant, I know I’ll be working with people of different backgrounds. My Tanzanian time has shown me how to celebrate differences and use them as an opportunity to foster new ideas. Also, nothing goes to waste here. After five months of conserving resources, I should be able to do more with limited time and money, which will help me and my clients!

Would you encourage others to do it?

YES! I’ve learned so much I wish I had done it sooner! I remember an interview a few years ago when I was asked, “describe a time when you had a challenge with someone and how you improved communications.”

Five months in Tanzania has stressed the importance of respectful and clear communication. You can’t assume someone understand you, it’s important to ask for clarify and keep an eye out for non-verbal cues. This has proved helpful for communicating with locals, as well as expats from many nations.

I’d also encourage people to come for the unique experiences, like the safari tours, where elephants and zebras pass within feet of your vehicle! The waterfalls, Chagga caves and coffee tour are must-sees as well. And I’d tell them to make sure to get to the Indian Ocean to watch the waves roll in while writing memories in a journal about the amazing experiences.

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Sperry Family- Goodbyes

Day 5 (7/18/18)-

We were really excited for today because we were given the opportunity to go to two of the students villages and get a glimpse inside their lives. We left earlier so we had longer to be with Innocence and Jonas at their home. Paul drove smoothly and we reached the place where we had to pick up Jonas. After we picked him up, we continued driving toward Rombo. Once we reached their village we climbed and stretched our legs. We were greeted by Innocence.

The two brothers introduced us to their aunt and uncle. Then we walked to the place where they grew up, and they talked to us about their past, and their family history. Then they showed us around their farm. They had so many delicious fruits. Some grew in the ground, others grew on tall trees. There were bananas, pineapples, coffee beans, yams, avocados, mangos, and papayas. After the tour of the farm the brothers introduced us to their grandfather, which was a huge honor.

After that, we watched them dig up some yams, that we were to take back to the guest house. Then we walked to their avocado tree, and Innocence climbed up into the tall tree, and picked some avocados for us to take back to Pina. The avocados were twice the size of the ones back in the United States! Once they had picked about 8 or 9 avocados, we climbed back into the van.

On our way home we ate lunch. Pina had packed homemade pizza. It was absolutely delicious. Then we dropped the boys off in Moshi. Paul offered to take us to meet his wife and grandmother. We were delighted to meet them, and he gave us a tour of his property too. Once we arrived at the guest house, we realized that we would have to say goodbye to everyone because we would be leaving tomorrow.

We said goodbye to Janeth and Paul and wished them all the best. Even though we were sad that our week of service in Moshi was over, we were happy that we had the opportunity to spend time with students, and the children. We had learned about the culture, the language and about their way of life.It has been the coolest experience of our lives, and we hope that we can come back soon!

-Sperry Family, Tanzania Visit

Volunteers of MAD

Sperry Family – College Applications

Day 4 (7/17/18)-

Today, after breakfast, Janeth and a student, Christina, met us and walked to the orphanage with us. The walk seemed shorter because we knew where we were going. Once we arrived at the orphanage, we headed to the toddlers. They were finishing up their milk, and they waved at us as we walked toward them. They clambered clumsily out of their chairs and waddled outside to the playground.

The children were all over us. They climbed on the slides, the benches, into our laps, our arms, and into our hearts.

Everyone had a child that held their hand and wanted to be held. We played and spent time with the small children for about an hour. Then we carried the tired kids back to the room where they were given their lunch. We were very sad to say goodbye, but we reluctantly headed out the door because we had to meet the students back at the guest house.

They were already there when we arrived. First, we ate the lunch provided by Pina. Everyone was very hungry so we ate all the food. After lunch, the students introduced themselves and told the group what they aspired to be. Then, we started helping the students start to apply to the collages they wanted. There were only a few who finished because some of them changed their mind, and wanted time to think about what they really wanted to be.

When they were finished with the applications, we hung out and talked. We learned a lot about their lives and who they were. Sadly, it was time for them to get home for they had a long drive back to their villages. A sense of accomplishment and happiness filled us and we headed off to bed.

-Sperry Family, Tanzania Visit