Hikes with MAD, Volunteers of MAD

Essential Items to Pack When Hiking Kilimanjaro to Make A Difference

We recently reached out to Joey and Gina, who participated in one of our recent annual Make A Difference Now charity hikes. They hiked to the rooftop of Africa, Kilimanjaro this year to raise money to educate the vulnerable children we support. We asked to hear what their top essential items were for their hike.

Here is their top list:


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  1. Altitude sickness pills

“My Dr only gave me eight and that was enough.” – Joey

 2. A Scrubzz Disposable No Rinse Bathing Wipes
“When wet, they foamed up with soap to wash, so take these!” – Joey

(Go to Amazon Smile and use Make A Difference Inc. in Boise as your charity) MAD gets a donation when you buy on Amazon.

  1. A small backpack
    (Water, a few snacks: headlamp, hand warmers, warm layers, face mask)
  2. Trek Poles 
  3. Sunscreen*Make sure not to touch your eyes after applying sunscreen.

     “Put sunscreen on your hands they too will get burnt too!”  – Gina

    you wish you would have known before traveling to Africa:


  1. No matter how much you prepare for Kilimanjaro, you aren’t prepared.
  2. Dollars are accepted almost everywhere but not credit cards.
  3. Women are expected to wear ankle-length skirts or pants.



  1. Amazon Smile (Click on Make A Difference Inc in Boise, Idaho)
    Shop on Amazon Smile

“I purchased all of my stuff from Amazon. Based on the list provided to me, I added items to my wishlist, and slowly purchased what I could” – Joey

  1. The “Let Go!” app:  Finding parkas

“The app was amazing for finding parkas. I found mine (originally $250) for $20” – Joey

  1. Thrift Stores: For things you would never use again 
  2. eBay (brand new)

“It saved me $150 on hiking boots!” – Joey



  1. Headphones
  2. Battery Chargers
  3. Sunscreen/Hat
  4. Google Translater App
  5. Pain medicines / Daily vitamins


  1. Phone
  2. Diamox and pain medicine 
  3. Water

Keep Kilimanjaro clean


“I used all the designated trash bags provided by the hiking crew. Also, rent the toilet, trust me, it’s the best thing you can do on the trek!” – Joey
”I brought my own washcloth. No plastic bottles” – Gina


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“Carry as little as possible on the trek. Put about four liters of water in your daypack before you leave your home so you can see how much that alone will weigh. Also, anticipate your hike days to be about 5-6 hrs each day. Trust your guides, they know the environment and the signs to look for when someone should not continue on the trek.”

You are never prepared enough for Kilimanjaro, 

Bring an unlocked phone with you and buy a sim card and data in Moshi. I spent $25 and got 10gb of data on an old iPhone 6 and this is how I kept in contact with social media and friends/family. the data lasted me the entire 3 weeks I was there and I used it a lot!!!” – Joey



Aya’s Summer in Syria


September 6, 2018

I had a very fun summer. I tried to implement what I learned in the US while I was at home. For example, I have never been on outdoor trips before coming to RIS, but as I liked it so much, I went on a 4-day backpacking trip with my friends. I also wanted to explore other parts of Syria so I went on trips with my family to places I have never been to before. I realized how loving and supportive my family and friends are. When I first came to the US, I spoke good English. However, I learned that no matter how well-spoken you are, you need to live in its society to have a better understanding of it. I knew English, but it definitely took me a while to know how to use it to communicate properly. I have never been to a zoo or a museum before in my life. There is a museum in Damascus but I have never been there. The educational system over there made people hate it outside of classrooms. So the educational nature of museums makes most people not even interested in going there. However, having more access to such opportunities makes it more exciting to go and see them. The education I am getting at RIS is awesome. It is so different than education in Syria. They may have some similarities in the taught curriculum but have a totally different aim and methodology of teaching. Also, the IB is so different than the American educational system. However, the IB is such a terrific program. Could be overwhelming but it is a fun and exciting process to me. The research, the adventurous nature of getting to know so many new things and all the different perceptions we consider making it so much fun. I think that a big difference lays in the limited access to technology usage in schools in Syria. Students are not allowed to have any devices on campus and are not taught how to use them for research purposes. I think that American students have a bigger chance of being innovative when it comes to projects. In Syria, it is all about homework and is way too practical that I feel like it deactivates the creative art of the brain.



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

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!”



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



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.


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.


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.