As I mentioned in my earlier post ‘following in his mother’s footsteps‘ I had two amazing weeks in 2010 volunteering in a nursery school and orphanage organised by the charity Art in Tanzania and the travel company ‘i to i travel‘.
It was an experience I’ll never forget. Travelling on my own to Africa was my first challenge, living in a volunteer house, sleeping in a bunk bed and sharing a room with 3 other students was different, to say the least!
Each morning we walked for an hour to Chem Chem nursery where we spent the morning teaching English (mainly the alphabet and numbers 1 – 10). Then we walked back again in the blistering heat and then to the orphanage in the afternoon to play with the children. It was both exhilarating and exhausting and all the children were adorable.
It was fascinating to learn about the culture, and living on a diet of mainly rice and beans, with some fresh fruit and occasionally goat was a new experience for me. The abundance of food in the UK, our culture of eating out and consuming bigger portion sizes contrasted enormously with my experiences in Tanzania. The phrase ‘living to eat or eating to live’ illustrates the stark differences between the two places and I would definitely encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone and volunteer abroad if they get the chance. Learning about a different culture, understanding their nutritional challenges and experiencing a very different diet first hand, was invaluable and something I’ll never forget.
When I’d booked my trip I discovered that the Kilimanjaro Half Marathon was being held whilst I was there, and decided it was too good an opportunity to miss, so I registered. On race day the atmosphere, the scenery and the people were all amazing and despite the heat I managed to run most of the way and was so proud to get my medal at the end.
The whole trip was truly memorable and I hope my son Matt who’s volunteering in Ghana is loving his experience too.
Enjoy the photo’s.