Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 5 months since I last posted. Thanks to those who emailed saying they missed the blog. It was just the push I needed to start writing again.
Give a Heart to Africa – Moshi, Tanzania
On December 5, 2013 I left my beloved students at Give a Heart to Africa as it was the end of their school term. I really loved those ladies and enjoyed teaching them business and English for 2 months. They were very eager learners and they face many challenges, but they work their butts off on a daily basis to try to make a better life for themselves and their families. They were simply a fantastic group of women to work with and I cherish the time I had with them.
Since I left, several of my former students have summitted Kilimanjaro as part of a group fundraising event, and many of them have also friended me on Facebook. It feels amazing to be able to converse with them in English via the internet, considering that none of them spoke very good English when they started their classes 6 months ago, nor did they have computer skills. They have come such a long way and I am incredibly proud of them and I definitely gave a huge part of my heart to them.
Back to African Impact – Livingstone, Zambia When I left Moshi, I returned to Livingstone, Zambia to volunteer for another month with African Impact’s Medical Program and spend the holidays with my friends there. I loved working with the community caregivers again and visiting some of the same patients in the outlying areas of Netebe and Sakubita. I also enjoyed seeing all of my buddies at the Maramba Old People’s Home again and playing with the kids in the after-school program at Linda Community Center and YCTC.
We held a fundraiser for the Happy Africa Foundation and I was lucky to get to work with fellow volunteer Stef Todd (a voice coach in her native New Zealand) to teach some talented young girls from my old school, Zambezi Sawmills, some Christmas carols. They performed beautifully at the Christmas by Candlelight event and the next day, we threw a Christmas party at Maramba Old People’s Home. It was positively glorious! The residents loved having the young girls onsite and really enjoyed their performance. Some of the girls even felt confident enough to perform solos – a real feat for 12-13 year old girls who are performing in front of a live audience of around 50 people. Stef and I were so proud of them! After the carols, we handed out cookies and other treats to the residents, as well as new shoes, which they really needed and greatly appreciated. It makes me smile to think of it again now. It was a very heartwarming day.
While in Livingstone, I also spent a day as an exchange volunteer at Lion Encounter, where I took a couple of lions out for their daily walk, fed them lunch and managed not be eaten by them (although I was nibbled a bit.) It was a terrific day and definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever had the opportunity to do. Like most things in life, the greatest risks produce the greatest rewards and let me tell ya, I was definitely outside my comfort zone on this one! Luckily I avoided the food preparation which involves some rather unsavory tasks I won’t gross you out with here, but I did have to feed the food to the more mature lions. They were behind security fences, but still, their power and aggressive nature made my knees quiver. Honestly, just writing about it now brings back the fear!
Get a job! When I left Seattle in April, 2013 to do volunteer work in Africa, I could never have imagined all the amazing experiences I would have, or the astonishing amount of seriously cool people I would meet, or the incredible impact that volunteering for long periods of time can have on your soul. As 2013 came to a close, I felt especially grateful and thankful.
However, I knew that I could only afford to volunteer for about a year, so I had started looking for a job when I arrived in East Africa. It took a while, but luckily, my biggest dream of all – to live and work in Africa – came true. I was honored to be offered the role of Business Manager for African Impact’s teaching, community development, and conservation projects in Jambiani, Zanzibar. I started my job on January 10, 2014.
I loved volunteering with African Impact and their partner projects, and I feel very fortunate to be able to continue my work with them as staff. And let’s face it, doing so on a tropical island with some of the best beaches and scuba diving in the world isn’t a bad gig!
As a way to celebrate my New Job in the New Year, I spent a little time dancing around in the joy and delight of knowing that the huge risk I took in quitting my job and following my dream paid off in more fulfilling ways than I could have ever imagined and that if you can dream it, you can do it.