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.


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.

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

Volunteers of MAD

Sperry Family- Bouncing with Joy!

Day 2 (7/15/18)-

We woke up in the morning, refreshed and excited for our second day in Tanzania. We devoured a breakfast of toast, eggs, and homemade banana bread made by our wonderful cook, Agripina. After breakfast, Mama Frida arrived at the guest house and introduced us to the native language of Tanzania, Swahili. We spent an hour learning the basics, such as hujambo, which means hello, and asante, which is thank you. Throughout our travels, we used the vocabulary we acquired to talk and connect to the people we met. Once Mama Frida left, Janeth and Stanley took us to the Upendo Baby Orphanage. They guided us around the busy streets, and up to the orphanage which was nestled on a quiet, peaceful backstreet. The orphanage was gorgeous. Colorful flowers and trees adorned the walkways and gardens. You could hear the children laughing as they played with each other. We met one of the caretakers of the children and we donated the books we brought. After the paperwork was complete, we joined the little kids outside on their playground. We were immediately swarmed with children, wanting to be picked up, and wanting their hand to be held. Their happy faces warmed our hearts and brought smiles to our faces. We left the orphanage bouncing with joy, and with high hopes of coming back. Once we arrived back at the guest house, we parted with Janeth and Stanley, and joined Revo for dinner. After dinner, we played some card games, showered, brushed our teeth, and climbed into bed, satisfied with our day.

-Sperry Family, Tanzania Visit

Volunteers of MAD

Sperry Family Visit – Frisbees and Smiles!

Day 1 (7/14/18)

In the morning, after a delicious breakfast of pancakes, we walked around Rau area with Stanley (Mwenda).  The walk was beautiful, and we saw many people walking and enjoying the beautiful morning. After lunch, we visited The Royal Primary and Secondary School with Paul as our driver and Stanley as our guide.  We donated a bag of books and 2 frisbees to the school and spent time with multiple students from the school who are a part of Make A Difference.  We learned about their school system, and shared what our school system was like. We also learned about the students and their lives. My family and I really loved meeting new people, and learning about their way of life and their school. After learning about the students and their school, everyone played outside with us with the frisbees.  We threw the frisbee around outside until it was time for us to go back to the guest house. We said our thank you’s and goodbyes to the teacher and the students and headed home after a wonderful first day in Tanzania.

-Sperry Family, Tanzania Visit