Mary’s Village

Going to Mary’s village gave me a whole new perspective on life. Mary lives in a village called Maande. When leaving MAD she takes a bus for 2 hours and walks 2 hours up a mountain to get to her village. Her kitchen is small and she uses firewood that she collects to start a fire. They have no cutting board and a limited supply of materials needed for cooking. Mary cooks for her family when she’s home, fetches the water, cuts grass, gets firewood, and washes dishes and clothes. Mary is very hardworking and does her best to take care of her family. Her family was so proud of her and everything she has accomplished. In comparison, I live in Marin in California. My kitchen is a lot bigger than Mary’s and we have every material needed for cooking. At home, I don’t do many chores. I wash my dishes, clean my room, cook and sometimes do my laundry. Mary and I live very different lives. It amazes me how people in Tanzania have so little, but they don’t complain and they work very hard to take care of their family. Mary’s family welcomed us to their home and we’re so appreciative of the work we were doing. Mary is an incredible young woman and with her work ethic, she will go very far in life.

Ry Goodwin

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Cooking with Pina

Traditional food in Tanzania is very different from what I am used to in the United States.  Today, Pina the housekeeper/cook at the MAD guesthouse gave us a cooking lesson. Mary (one of the MAD students) and I went shopping at the local vegetable stand for the ingredients. We made Chipsi na Mayai (Tanzanian Omelette). It is an omelet with French fries cooked in it. Similar to a Spanish tortilla. First, we peeled the potatoes, cut and fried them. Then we cracked eggs into the fries. It was an easy meal to cook and was delicious! I’m excited to go home and show my friends and family my new skills.

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Inspiring Women of Tanzania

Yesterday, we met two incredible Tanzanian women, both who aspire change in Tanzania.   At the Upendo Orphanage, we met Sister Yasinta.  She told us about history of the orphanage, why there are orphanages in Tanzania and about adoption in Tanzania.  At the Upendo Orphanage, there are 46 orphanages are ages infants to 8 years old. When they are old enough they attend the primary school next door.   Sister told us that she became very attached to the orphans and had a hard time when they had to leave to go to primary school. She talked a lot about how every life matters and babies have lives too. All she wanted was to give these children a chance and let them live out the life they were supposed to live out.  We arrived too late to see the children and they were already napping so we will go back another day to read and sing with them.

After lunch, we visited Shirikisha.  Shirikisha is a cooperative of business that is run by and supports deaf and others that feel they have nowhere else to go.  They sew, cook food, rent rooms and have a beautiful garden.  Cocaya who started Shirikisha is loving, optimistic and very proud. We sat in the garden having lemongrass tea while Cocaya shared her story. When she was young she had a childhood friend who was deaf.  She saw how hard she struggled and started helping her.  It gave her so much joy that she started helping anyone that asked.  She says “I don’t need to teach people what to do..they already know.  I just give them the confidence go out and make it happen.”  Meeting Cocoya showed me that one person can inspire so many people to love themselves for who they are and to be proud of who they are.

Ry Goodwin

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A fateful click

By Stephanos Antoniades

For many years, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro was on my bucket list. I don’t remember when it made it onto the list or what prompted me to add it. I just remember thinking that it was the only continental peak that one could hike to, as compared to a mountain like Everest which is a technical climb, needing special skills, training, and a lot of money! As such, I felt it was a big adventure I could add to my bucket list and manage to check it off one day.

When I decided it was time to check it off and I started doing research for the trip, I looked to find a book that would help me plan and prepare for the trip. The book I found was “Kilimanjaro: The Trekking Guide to Africa’s Highest Mountain” by Henry Stedman. I first discovered it through a web search and stumbled on the author’s website. It had a link to Amazon to purchase the book, and a variety of information about the climb.

On the front page of the website, I noticed a link named “Charity Climbs”. While climbing Kilimanjaro as part of a charity climb was not on my radar, curiosity got the best of me, and I clicked on that link. The rest, as they say, is history! It is a history that has had me travel to 3 continents, including twice to Africa, and has connected my wife Olga and I to 22 children in the Kili region (now 24).

1052684_10200650121827935_1776900024_oWhen I opened the page listing the charity climbs, first on the list was Make A Difference (MAD). There were other charity climbs on the list, some of which had more familiar charities associated with them, but there was one unique thing about MAD that “made the difference”: it included spending a few days volunteering with the people your fundraising would be directly benefiting! While I had participated in walks/hike/etc. for the typical charity causes going all the way back to my teens, this was the first time I had come across a scenario like this where I would get to witness firsthand the effects of the money I would raise.

So doing this was an easy decision for me. Convincing my wife to participate would take a bit more work, as her bucket list did not include a Kili climb! But I still knew there was a way that would make a trip to Tanzania an easy decision for her too. We had talked about the possibility of a volunteer trip in the past, and the opportunity hadn’t come up yet. I thought that she might be interested in spending more time volunteering with the children while I climbed Kilimanjaro, and my thoughts proved to be correct. We decided 11001696_10153486816939239_507997915981055736_oto reach out to friends to see if anyone would be interested in joining us, either to climb with me or to spend time volunteering with Olga, and we were both able to find people interested in both. I found a friend interested in the climb (and she brought along a friend of hers), and Olga found a friend interested in volunteering with the children. So my original interest in the MAD climb got 5 people to travel to Tanzania (and fundraise for MAD!).

The actual experience was even better than we expected! We both got more than we hoped for and the connection with the children was instantaneous! It would also turn out to be a long-term connection. My wife and I decided to sponsor one of the children supported by MAD; her name is Upendo, which means Love in Swahili! I am writing this blog entry during our 2nd trip to Africa to spend time with the children. This time both of us are volunteering with MAD for 8 days. Between that first trip to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro in 2013 and this 2nd trip to volunteer in 2017, I have done 2 other 14495502_10208806413130120_2691821765917582222_ntreks/climbs with MAD. I participated on the first MAD Patagonia trek in 2015, and the first MAD trek to Mt Everest Base camp last year (good thing for MAD that I have a long bucket list!). Since I came one day short of reaching that goal in 2016, I will be leading the 2nd trek to Mt Everest Base camp for MAD in 2018 (see below for flyer)! I am hopeful we will be able to get a large group of people to participate that will help raise even more money for MAD!

The end result of that one fateful click in October of 2012 has resulted in the 2 of us directly or indirectly helping raise somewhere in the vicinity of 15-20 thousand dollars for those children. And if that money wasn’t enough, it has created a connection for us that will likely last for many years to come!

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240 Girls Empowered

“Each one of these young women has a voice that won’t be silent in Tanzania.” – Professor Olga Tsoudis

I’m currently in Tanzania, Africa with Make A Difference (MAD) and this week I conducted an empowerment workshop for 240 students at an all girls school where two of MAD’s students attend. At home in the USA I’m a professor of sociology and an activist so teaching is quite familiar to me. However, the atmosphere at the girls’ school was not a typical one.

There were wooden benches instead of chairs, bed sheets used to cover the windows to create darkness and a makeshift screen of a white board on a table leaning against the wall. If you are determined, you work with what you have and you make it familiar!  The school administrators were eager to make it happen with the available resources and they did. I received a warm welcome and enthusiastic support for having an empowerment workshop for the girls, something that isn’t common in Tanzania.

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240 girls eagerly attended the workshop with notebooks in hand and greetings to welcome me.

We discussed:

  • confidence
  • body image
  • traits in friends
  • the power of education
  • sugar daddies (very common in Tanzania; men who offer girls money and gifts)
  • decision making

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Their responses demonstrated critical thinking and passion to be successful, strong women. We also discussed Malala and her commitment to education.

Each one of these young women has a voice that won’t be silent in Tanzania. At the end, I received handshakes and hugs that will forever remain priceless.

– Professor Olga Tsoudis

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The Joy of Returning Back

“If you believe in education and want to see a heartfelt, positive experience, MAD is the non profit to connect with for yourself and the children.”

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Volunteering for MAD is not the typical volunteer experience. It is one of intimacy and grassroots with success before your eyes. I have volunteered for many organizations throughout my life and have always wondered where my efforts and money really go. With MAD, you directly see the incredible results of the success for these students. You experience one on one interactions with the children from school assignments to shopping for graduation clothes at the local market in Moshi. You get to visit the school environment and see the quality of education.

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You get hugs and appreciation from the children via video, letters and if you are lucky to visit…. presentations in your honor. This is our fourth day here and all of these experiences have occurred. Our generous friends also believe and support the grassroots of MAD and donated money, books and sanitary napkins for our arrival. Two suitcases of books will be going to the library at the Royal School. If you believe in education and want to see a heartfelt, positive experience, MAD is the non profit to connect with for yourself and the children

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goneMAD

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