Coming into this trip I knew that I would fall in love with the wildlife and the landscape here, but I didn’t realize how much I’d fall in love with the people. Through our weekly community service days and our recent homestay at a local Iraqw family home, I’ve met so many amazing Tanzanians.
There’s Daniel, who is one of the orphans at the Rhotia Valley Children’s home. This orphanage is for children who do not have parents or whose parents could not take care of them, and it is a vibrant and happy community. On community service days and our free days, we have the option to visit the orphanage and play games with the children. They practice using their English while we attempt at speaking Swahili—something that little kids find REALLY funny here. Daniel is one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever met and taught me how to make an origami box while I taught him how to play the ukulele.
Recently I decided to volunteer at the tree nursery down the road. On the way I was stopped by some girls about our age in school uniforms who asked if I could answer a question. They showed me their notebook and it was physics homework! They wanted to know if we could explain why “when there is sunshine a pond appears in front of people”. We were super confused until someone figured out that they were talking about mirages, which I had NO idea how to explain, and thankfully had some friends with me to help. The two girls thanked us and we exchanged our names, and now we wave at each other happily whenever we pass by them. That interaction made my day and goes to show how friendly people are here.
At the tree nursery we help fill pots with soil and collect dead leaves for compost, which is super relaxing and fun. The nursery is owned by Philipo, who is the father of the family whose house I stayed at for our homestay experience. Me and two other students stayed with Philipo’s wife and two kids from morning to evening. We helped cook mandazi, beef, cabbage, and ugali, and made the most delicious milk tea that I’ve ever had. After cleaning and doing chores we hung out with Amanda and Walter, the two kids, and their friends from the neighborhood. We colored, played ukulele and played cards. I taught them a magic trick that cracked them up, and they went around doing it to their friends and family. I may have taught all of Rhotia a magic trick by the speed it was spreading! Amanda also painted our nails, but only on our left hand, because the right hand is our “working hand”. I hope to hang out with Amanda more throughout the semester and keep in touch with her family in the future. They are amazing people.
I can’t wait to meet more locals at soccer games and community service activities in the future. Ninapenda mtanzania! (I love Tanzanians!).