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


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!

Volunteers of MAD

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

Volunteers of MAD

Sperry Family -A Sense of Peace

Day 3(7/16/18) –

On the third day, we jumped out of bed, ready for the adventure Janeth had planned for us. Today was a culture day! Today, we were going to travel around and see the Gates of Kili, the N’doro waterfalls, and the Chagga museum. Around 9:30, Paul, our lovely driver, picked us up. We drove toward the mountain, and picked up Stanley along the way. The car ride was very seemed short and before we knew it, we had reached our first destination, the Gates of Kili. The two peaks were hiding behind the smoky clouds, so we were unable to see them. That was not too bad because we had seen them earlier that week. We walked up to the starting point of the trail, but weren’t able climb any further because we were not registered, and we did not have an early start. We took some pictures in front of the sign, and studied the maps. Then, we got back in the car and headed to the waterfall.

Paul turned the van down a bumpy dusty road to the waterfall. We were met by a few locals who guided us down through the dense jungle-like vegetation to the roaring waterfall. The spray from the falling water washed over us, and we could smell the crisp water crashing on the rocks. A sense of peace swept through the gourd as we watched the mesmerizing water. We took pictures of each other standing on a rock, and hiked back up the steep stairs back to the van. Then we drove to a place where we could eat lunch.

The food was still warm, and we ate all of the beans, rice, and vegetables Pina had packed for us. We relaxed for a while before walking a short distance to the Chagga museum. The guide greeted us and he talked to us about the tribes, and what early Tanzania was like, and how the tribes lived. He led us inside a replica of a traditional house and explained the different parts of the house. Then we went into a exhibit of tools that the tribes used. We learned what each tool was used for. For example we learned that they used these big barrels for making banana beer. We said goodbye to the guide and started the drive home. After an amazing dinner, we went to bed, exhausted from the fantastic day we had.

-Sperry Family, Tanzania Visit