| November 2, 2017 |
– From August 20, 2017 in Tanzania, Africa –
By August 20th, it felt like I had been in Africa for an eternity. It wasn’t because time was dragging, and it certainly wasn’t because it had been too long. Rather, it felt as though our group had accomplished so much! Although I didn’t feel ready to be done with service, I knew it was time for some well-deserved rest with our service group. We had put a great deal of energy into making our volunteer work at Step-By-Step Learning Centre and Shanga successful, so we were ready for the second part of our journey together in Tanzania.
Our first day of “rest” was a hike at the base of Mt. Meru. This dormant stratovolcano sits 70 kilometers west of Mount Kilimanjaro and 14,977 feet above sea level. Located in Arusha National Park, the mountain is visible from many parts of the city. In April 2016, I only saw Mt. Meru on the day I left Tanzania as the rainy season clouded its view (even on this same hike!). However, in the dry season, the prevalence of Meru was notable on most days. It looms over Arusha in a similar way Mount Rainier overlooks Seattle; some days its presence is hazy and barely visible, while others it’s features are clearly exposed.
Our Stony Brook Seawolves crew of Physical Therapists and students headed on a memorable and active day together, in the mountains and valleys of Tanzania that had completely shifted my gears in 2016…
| October 23, 2017 |
It’s been therapeutic to work through my journey in Tanzania in retrospect. I aimed to write a post each day in Africa, but access to WiFi and time to do this was more scarce than I imagined. Plus, now I get the joy of reliving the trip while trying to adjust to this crazy life back in the United States. It’s allowed me to prolong the valuable lessons I learned, and stay connected to my purpose and desire to serve.
There’s been so much upheaval about our current society. I feel it: We’re losing hope. Racial inequality, gender identity, and political discontentment are topics that flood the media. Natural disasters are plaguing our planet. Mass shootings are leaving people confused and seeking answers. We are all gripping for some silver lining, some glimmer of hope that we’re going to be okay.
When I think about embracing a life of love, rather than a life of fear, I think of simplifying life. I think of focusing on what we have, rather than what we do not have. Most of us have access to amenities that other nations are not blessed with. Clean, running water… shelter… food on the table… our basic human needs are being fulfilled. Though this is on an elementary level, I think there’s great value in being grateful for these simple gifts. I now think about my time in Africa, where I was surrounded by an indescribable spiritual energy. Even those who were living on $1/day were smiling–finding a reason to live a joyful life. Kids danced in the streets, people praised the Lord for the grace to survive, and everyone cared so deeply and truly for each other. The people of Tanzania were united, recognizing governmental corruption that we (Americans) could not fathom, yet still helping each other in any way they could.
I’m not saying our problems don’t mean anything. I just think we need a shift in perspective, and to instill ourselves with more hope and love. In this post, I’m going to share what each of the children at Step-by-Step Learning Centre taught me, and how we can use their stories to propel ourselves forward. I truly believe, in the end, we’re going to be okay…
| October 9, 2017 |
– From August 19, 2017 in Tanzania, Africa –
As this was our last day with the teachers of Step-by-Step Learning Centre, we had a lot to wrap up! We needed to review all the information we already taught, and plan for the future together. We spent the morning organizing donations, amending exercise programs, and answering as many questions as we could. Our afternoon consisted of bonding over Fanta soda, eating chicken biryani, and walking the streets of Arusha with the most inspiring group of people I’ve ever been close to.
Congratulations, Step-by-Step Learning Centre staff on your successful completion of the “Gross Motor Evaluation Workshop”!
| September 20, 2017 |
– From August 18, 2017 in Tanzania, Africa –
Well, it was an interesting start to the day to say the least. I blew a fuse at L’Oasis lodge, sending the entire place into a light-flickering buzz, with sparks flying from the nearby electrical post. I figured it was a good idea to heat Bryson’s braces at the lodge and cut them with the EMT shears I had in my possession (heating makes it easier), but the embossing gun I had apparently couldn’t handle the voltage in Tanzanian outlets. I plugged the embossing heat gun into my transformer with what I THOUGHT was the appropriate voltage, turned it on, and–within 8 seconds–it sounded like the heat gun was going to takeoff like a rocket when a spark when flying out of the gun and I heard a *POP* at the same time the lights went out.
I opened the door to see that ALL the lights in the huts surrounding mine were flickering, in addition to the breakfast area. The nearby electrical pole didn’t look so happy, either… and I shamefully found an employee to let them know I was to blame. Fortunately, it was quickly resolved… but I was left with a broken heat gun, and no cut braces. Whoopsie. I’d have to muscle through cutting with the EMT shears once we got to SSLC.
I promise the day got better after my little incident. Today was our last day with the students at SSLC because tomorrow we’ll be with the teachers all day.
| September 15, 2017 |
– From August 17, 2017 in Tanzania, Africa –
Time is moving quickly, and I’m trying to capture every moment with the students and teachers at SSLC. Though we’ve already made an impact with a great deal of knowledge exchanged, the potential is immense. To me, it seems as though we’re looking at a mountain—we have so much to climb, so much to gain, as a united team. Yet, we have to take it “step-by-step,” and embrace the process of growth. We’re learning how important it is to stay focused in the present, while keeping our eyes on bigger dreams. Life lessons in Tanzania. I haven’t had time to process all we’ve done so far, but my exhaustion at the end of each day is telling me I’m giving my all to teaching and learning…
Every morning, we stop in town to pick Bryson up with his brother, Simon. They’re driven on motorcycle to meet our SSLC van. We then drive past a shopping center where Rashid and Imran jump into the car (they walked from their home to meet us). Other children get picked up in a second round, or get rides from family members. This morning, Bryson was later than expected, but there was no blip in our day! Once he joined us for a ride, he made Meaghan beyond happy by saying her name in the car! When we pulled up to school, Nasra greeted us by sprinting to the car, her face relieved by our presence. Our tardiness had her worried! Despite our tardiness, our day started with a brief circle time of songs and greetings before diving into today’s work.
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