Volunteers of MAD

Traveling Reflections :)

Any trip you take puts you in a position to learn many things if you look at your situation in a unbiased, open way. Whether that trip involves going across the street or across the ocean is entirely up to what you want to do and the resources you have with which to do it.

I have learned many useful things in my day to day life by keeping my eyes and ears open and when I did the math and realized that coming to Africa was more than just a dream, but actually a possibility, I was filled with excitement, anticipating all the learning that would come along with my travels.

I have learned about a few basics of swahili, how modern weddings take place, how bill gates infects people with malaria, how to hash, how to name certain exotic animals by looking at their droppings, and how to live life by candel-light just to name a few things off the top of my head. I’m sad to say, I did NOT learn, however, how many people can fit in a dala-dala. I think that is one of those unanswerable mysteries ranking up there with; What is the meaning of life? and Is Global Warming a real threat?

But, more than learning, I have been asked some great questions by the kids at the orphanage. “Madam! Your hair, it is smelling good! What is this?” It’s shampoo, Peter. 🙂 hahaha. “Madam! Do all white people use this kind of soap?” Everybody uses a different kind, but i guess some white people might use the same one as me. haha! And then comes the anatomy questions; “Madam! What is this spot!” Mary asked grabbing my arm. That’s a freckle! And “Madam Zoe! Your nose goes like this” Elliona said pointing to his nose and bringing it away from his face, “And mine is like this” he said pushing down on my nose. Yep, they are different. haha. Then, the ever-so-serious, “Why.” Uhm, I don’t know!

My time with the kids was filled with learning on both sides about culture and language and the difference between us, but we shared laughter the whole time. Whenever i didn’t understand an accent, or an expression, the laughs definitely closed those gaps and I believe if they didn’t know a word of English and I didn’t know a word of Swahili we would still get along great by walking around, and teaching and learning from each other with the help of patience, smiles, and laughter.

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Volunteers of MAD

First Impressions

Zoe Hartman

8-19-2011

When I came here I was expecting to be living off the meager supply of granola bars i managed to stuff in my bag last minute. I was also expecting to be taking bucket showers and having to walk miles every day. Now that I’m here I think my body knew what to expect more than my brain did. I packed the night before i left and i wasn’t all that nervous and it turns out i didn’t need to be at all. Moshi has turned out to be a whole lot like the town I left, if not better 🙂

At home we have a farmer’s market that goes on every Wednesday and Saturday. It takes up about half a block and lasts from 10AM-2PM. Our tiny market can’t even begin to compete with the food market here. Besides the obvious size difference (the market here in Moshi stretches on forever) it also goes on almost all day, every day. Then, you have to consider the foods. What do you think tastes better; tiny “organic” apples from a town in north Idaho where there are only three months of summer (if you’re lucky) or bananas that grow EVERYWHERE in a place where the weather is perfect for fruits and veggies to ripen. You don’t even need that sticker that reminds you that something is “all organic” because you can just look to the cornfield on your left, or the coffee beans up the road and know where everything is coming from.

Although this new town is a lot bigger than my hometown it still has a small town feel to it and although it’s a lot different due to it’s different language, customs and traditions, I still can’t help but feel like it’s a whole lot like my own little old Sandpoint, Idaho.