On our fourth and final day, we kicked things off with an ice breaker. During our ice breaker, the group, identified mutual points of connections. We learned that although we are all from different countries, ages and cultures – we have so much in common!
After a few laughs, it was straight to business. The team collaborated to strengthen our skills in Google Docs, Slides and Sheets. We focused on the current conditions and challenges the people of Tanzania face. 50% of the Tanzanian population lives on less than $1.90 a day and major inroads need to be made in order to create a system where people can overcome poverty. The extreme poverty leads students to spend hours walking to school, low literacy rates, no internet, and in some cases no access to electricity.
We did not just learn about challenges. We discussed ways to overcome them. We dreamed, ideated, and created paths that could help students move past the lives they were born into and create the life they want. The students inspired us by building and delivering great presentations about how they want to drive positive change and help solve educational problems in Tanzania.
We ended our time together with a proper Tanzanian “Send Off” celebration. We danced, sang and celebrated with the children. We both created bonds that can never be broken. Emma, Janeth, Flora, Elliona, Jonas, Juma, Subira, Stanley, Christina, Mary, Innocent and Tanzania we will miss you!
Mambo! Day three of our volunteer trip was incredible. Every day seems better than the last. We had over six hours of hands-on interaction with local female students at the Moshi Community Centre, where we met with Father Dominic and began the day with him explaining what the day would entail. Today’s goals were to expose the girls to more English, technology and various career options by helping them register for a certification at the Centre. The center is focused on girls because there are fewer opportunities for women. These programs will give them access to new career opportunities not available to the average secondary school graduate.
All the students had amazing attitudes and were very grateful we were there to work with them. The students defy all odds and work through immense obstacles, including, four-hour round-trip bus rides to school, poverty, lack of resources, and being orphaned at an early age. While they have not led easy lives, these students remain resilient and do not let excuses be part of their narrative. MAD offers buses for transport and supplies many computers to the center to help with these studies. Often the government doesn’t have the budget to supply computers to their schools and kids will only get access at private schools.
We began afternoon activities with introductions and played an ice-breaker called “Two Truths and One Lie.” There was an abundance of laughter as we learned more about each other’s personal lives. We live continents apart, but ultimately, we all have so much in common.
In addition, we taught the students google documents and introduced them to Microsoft Office. Most of the girls had very little exposure to a computer, many were using a computer for the very first time and we helped them all create their first email accounts. Although many of them had little to no experience with Google, their enthusiasm to learn something new and different made everything worthwhile. We taught them how to use Google Docs and sending emails as this is a baseline requirement for school and work.
The Salesforce crew took turns explaining the importance of computers and the internet in our daily lives, both at work and personally as well. Our top tier MAD students were in attendance to help out and their translation skills were invaluable, as many of the concepts were better explained in Swahili for the class.
While we started the day as strangers, we ended as friends. We are thankful we had the opportunity to spend the whole day with the girls and look forward to seeing these young women evolve into successful women.
Today we had a jam packed day exploring the Kilimanjaro area with our main man, Stanley. Stanley, one of the first students sponsored by MAD, took us to his village to meet his Babu and Bibi (grandfather and grandmother) in the home where he was raised. Stanley (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCL0Rmn2h50&t=148s) has been raised by his grandparents since both of his parents passed away from HIV/AIDS. When he is not in school, he spends his time supporting them.
The previous day’s Swahili lesson proved to be useful as Babu welcomed us warmly into his home. Babu, now 78, inherited their home from his own grandfather and has been living there with Bibi since they had met in school many years ago. The modest home is surrounded by livestock and the group was able to welcome the baby calf and days old goat fondly named “Flower”. Babu, Bibi, and Stanley all wake early in the morning to tend to the animals and spend the day gathering food and water.
After helping restock the troughs for the cows, Stanley guided us down the hill to show us the stream he spent his childhood running up and down to. Our group, however, inched along as we made our way slowly down the steep hill. The hike was worth it though when Stanley showed us the beautiful waterfalls that he has grown up with. The group couldn’t seem to take enough pictures and Stanley had to work hard to herd us away. After returning home to Babu and Bibi with water in tow, we gave our last snuggles to Flower the baby goat and made promises to visit again soon.
With Babu and Bibi in the rearview mirror, we headed off to have a quick lunch before visiting the Chagga museum. The Chagga are the native people of the Kilimanjaro area and we spent a few moments learning about the tools, housing, and traditions of the tribe before heading off to the Primary School that Stanley attended.
We were greeted with big smiles from children of all ages dressed in uniforms in all of the primary colors. It turns out that Friday is the day each student can choose the color they wish to wear and the colors compete in various activities. All of the students were excited to show off their English while we eagerly yelled “Mambo” to each student while giving them high fives and fist bumps. We toured the entire school including the new computer room, science lab and basketball court. It was overwhelming to see the impact that the combined Salesforce and MAD teams can make.
As the students gave us their final high fives, everyone gave a warm goodbye to Stanley as he headed back home to Babu and Bibi. The entire group was a bit worn down from the Tanzanian afternoon heat as we headed home to our MAD guest house but it is nothing a good meal from our favorite chef can’t fix!
Mambo from Moshi!! Today the Salesforce team began orientation. In the morning we learned more about MAD’s creation, mission, and present day impact on the students and their communities. Stanley, a current university law student, spoke in depth about how his participation in the organization has been life changing. He is orphaned and said that MAD was a “light” in his life. The other students also reiterated the positive impact that the organization has had in their lives and it was really touching to hear how much this program has done for these students.
After having lunch with the students, we began to take Swahili lessons. Swahili is harder than we imagined but it was fun to end the day practicing our new phrases and singing the Hujambo song which we all love! As we are trying to blend into the local life, it is important that we learn phrases that are relevant to present day Tanzanian society. For example, we were able to yell “MAMBO” to locals and get responses that we now understood. We culminated our day by going on a walk in the town with the students and learning more about each other. In short, day 1 demonstrated how important it is for us to volunteer and support this amazing program MAD has changed the lives of these students and their families and it is a gratifying experience that we will also never forget and will also change our lives. Looking forward to tomorrow’s day of activities.
Happy Independence Day to America! July 4 is a day of celebration for us as Americans, but a bittersweet day as volunteers – it’s our last day with Make A Difference Now in Tanzania.
A volunteer trip with MAD offers opportunities for cultural learning and exchange, so we started our day with a trip to the local market. Simple wooden food stalls offered fruits, vegetables, beans, maize (corn), meat, and animal feed. We were on a mission to buy plaintains to make a typical Tanzanian banana stew – ndizi njegere. We were also tempted by the huge avocados (now in season), tasty tomatoes and the yummy papaya.
Back at the guesthouse, we were met by MAD scholarship students with the traditional greeting – double hugs with a friendly “Jambo” (hello). The students are on summer break now and eager to hang out with the volunteers. Our first order of business was to catalog the needs of the students before they go back to school – clothing, shoes, toiletries, school supplies, and more. As the MAD students are orphans from impoverished backgrounds, they largely rely on Make A Difference donations to get properly outfitted for school. Next we worked with the students to finalize their latest blog post updates. You can check out the posts from each student using the categories at the top of this blog.
Continuing with the cultural exchange, our amazing house cook, Flora, taught us how to make ndizi njegere (that’s the banana stew). Plantains, onions, carrots, tomato, potatoes, coconut, and peas make up this hearty local dish. I can speak for all of the volunteers when I say we will greatly miss Flora’s delicious cooking!
We ended our day, and this incredible trip, with a traditional Tanzanian send-off, complete with cake, songs, dances, gifts, thank you notes, a prayer, lots of photos, and many hugs all around. One of the traditions is to feed a small piece of cake from a toothpick to a person who has helped you, so the students took turns offering cake to each of the volunteers. Every volunteer was also awarded a certificate in recognition of their contributions to MAD and Tanzania, along with a khanga (sarong), which is a traditional Tanzanian wrap for women with a saying embroidered on it. Janeth, our house manager, explained that khangas with sayings such as “Congratulations” or “Thank You” or “God Bless” are kind of like the greeting cards of Tanzania. Our sole male volunteer, Ali, was given the traditional cloth of a Maasai warrior in recognition of his expert “tech warrior” assistance leading the setup of the computers for the MAD Computer Certificate Program this week. And finally the students taught us a local dance called the kwaito, which is suspiciously identical to the Electric Slide.
As we prepare to say “Kwaheri” (goodbye) to the MAD students as we depart on Kilimanjaro treks, safaris, or back home to the USA, I can say that none of us will ever forget the welcoming and friendly nature of the Tanzanian people, the beauty of the Kilimanjaro region, the resilience and determination of the MAD students to improve their lives, and the difference that Make a Difference Now is having on education in Tanzania.
Today we got off to an early start and walked the mile to the Moshi Community Centre. We met again with the 10 young women who recently graduated from the pilot MAD Computer Certificate program. This time, we gathered in the new lab we set up, which they will use to practice their computer skills in the future. The women are excited to be able to use the lab to continue to improve their skills.
We then each met with one of the young women to help them practice their English. It was a great opportunity to get to know them by collecting information about their background, family, living situation, education, exposure to computers and career aspirations. We had a wonderful time getting to know these young women better, learning how they feel the computer program will help them, and how much they enjoyed learning about computers. The information collected will be used to help improve the computer certificate program as we look to expand and offer it to more vulnerable girls in the future. As mentioned before, most of the young women had never used a computer before this certificate program.
Finally, we used the information we gathered from speaking with the women to help them create an example resume which shows their education and volunteer experience, computer skills and career plans. The women appreciated learning what a resume typically looks like and practicing their English. They also showed great interest in our lives back home and where we were from, and we enjoyed showing them pictures of our home
We then headed back to the guest house for another tasty but quick lunch from Flora. In the afternoon we went to one of the local orphanages run by Catholic sisters and donated art supplies and games to the children there in the orphanage. While there we learned about the hardships these children have to deal with and how difficult it can be for the sisters to locate the parents or any relatives of the children in their care. We closed out the night back at the guest house with a rousing game of Celebrity which featured clues as varied as Big Bird, Isaac Asimov, David Cameron, and Taylor Swift. Tomorrow is our last full day here at the Make a Difference guest house. We will all certainly miss the students and warm Tanzanian people who have extended such a warm karibu (welcome) to all of us during our stay.
As we started Day 4, we headed back to the Moshi Community Center to meet with ten older girls who are participating in another computer course at the center. The 3-month course focused on learning many Microsoft programs including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Publisher. The class favorite program was definitely Microsoft Publisher, which the girls love using to make cards for birthdays and religious celebrations like Confirmation.
After a quick presentation about what the girls had learned during the course, volunteers and students paired up to see the girls using the different programs in action. The girls demonstrated their Excel knowledge with a quick budget, and showed off their PowerPoint chops with short presentations on any topic of their choosing. The girls also showed off their typing ability by copying a quick letter in Microsoft Word and formatting it to match the original.
After showing off all they’d learned Theresa asked the girls about how many of them had previous exposure to computers, if they had any computers back in their villages, and how many hoped to complete an internship (called field work here in Tanzania) after finishing the course. None of the girls had computers back in their villages, and they were extremely grateful for the opportunity to complete the computer course and learn new skills for their futures.
MAD plans to continue expanding the program in the future to reach more girls and give them exposure to computer skills.
Once we’d said goodbye and congratulated the girls, we headed upstairs to set up the new computer lab at the Moshi Community Center. Both these ten students and the 50 younger students we met earlier in the week will have access to the computer lab to practice their new computer skills on holiday breaks. We spent the later part of the morning setting up all the computers in the new lab with new user accounts, Microsoft programs, internet browsers, and other programs the students learned during their course so they are ready to go when students come to practice what they learned.
After a fun morning at the Moshi Community Center, our group headed into town for a casual lunch at a favorite café of Theresa’s. We enjoyed some particularly tasty Kilimanjaro coffee while we were there! We spent the afternoon ordering some custom-made skirts and dresses from a shop in town that we’ll be picking up later in the week. We finished off our day with some tasty sodas right down the street from the guest house.