Ruairi Feakes of 8.1 gives us an insight into his experience in Tanzania. See the gallery below for images.
A huge 'well done' to all those involved!
I recently went on a life-changing school trip with thirty other Grade 8 and 9 students to Tanzania - an amazing country. It was a trip that surpassed all expectations I had and previous travel experiences. We worked in the Arusha region with a school and families within the community. To cap it all off we were also able to go on safari in the beautiful Tarangire National park. It was a brilliant trip even though there where challenging moments and difficult times. The trip brought me closer to my friends and enabled all of us to make many new friends with students from other Nord Anglia Schools.
Highlights of the trip
Working with local builders and kids from other schools to build a classroom for a local primary school – for the first 2 days we spent in Tanzania my group worked at Nazareti primary school. The school has little equipment or facilities to cater for the large amount of students so classrooms are very overcrowded. We worked in sweltering hot conditions to build a new classroom and start the foundations for a second one. Tiring, but extremely fun and rewarding!
Playing football with the school kids - while at Nazareti Primary school we got the opportunity to play football with the school kids. There were no goals or rules just running around and chasing around 4 balls! Many of the children were extremely shy but it was easy to get them smile and laugh – especially when attempting to ask a child in Swahili what his name is in an extremely English accent.
Going on safari in Tarangire national park – On day three and four we went on safari, an absolutely amazing experience! To get there we had a three hour drive to the park and drove through a landscape of Maasai villages and dry vegetation. The drive was already captivating but once we arrived in the park I was immediately gob smacked by the animals living in the park. We saw impala, water buck, giraffes, elephants, zebra, wildebeest, warthogs and gazelles - all fairly common safari animals, but for someone like me who has only seen these animals in captivity it was stunning to see them roam in a natural environment.
Visiting a Maasai shop, a Tanzanite shop and Shanga – On the way back from safari we visited three shops. We first stopped of at a Maasai shop where we had to haggle for the products, I ended up getting 2 bracelets for 20 dollars, a bit much, and two little animal figurines for 5 dollars. Need some practicing on those bargaining skills. After that we visited a Tanzanite shop, Tanzanite is a rock exclusive to Tanzania and costs quite a lot of money. Our final stop was Shanga, a workshop which employs only disabled people. It is a great place and I brought some awesome gifts for my family there. Shanga is also a bright star in Tanzania’s bad record for treatment of disabled people and it was inspiring to visit the place.
Giving a village family electricity and a goat - On the final 2 days we worked with a couple of local families. We built a goat shed and provided a goat to go in it along with a smokeless stove and electricity. It was a great experience working with local people. The sheer happiness on the lady’s face who we worked with was priceless, she was absolutely delighted to have electricity for the first time ever.
Downsides of the trip
Getting ill while at camp – On day 5 many of us woke up feeling pretty ill. Quite a number of us got heat exhaustion and ended up having to stay at camp instead of getting out to work on the projects. We were frustrated and feeling guilty at letting people down by not being able to get out – the majority of us got going again on day 6 and made up for lost time.
Coming home – It was great to be back with family again after the 10 days we were out in Tanzania but there is always that feeling of wanting to go back. It was an amazing trip in which we all achieved so much, learnt a lot and made so many new friends. I think also it takes a bit of time to re-adjust to our relatively fortunate lives here in Geneva after such an experience.
What you achieve from going on the trip
From going on this trip I gained a new perspective on our world – I had never been out of Europe before so it was a major shock to enter a country where people are living in tin houses below the extreme poverty line. However it makes us really appreciate what we have here in Switzerland.
You get to meet locals and learn about the culture – it’s all very well reading a book about the country you are going to visit but you only really learn about it once you’re there. This was something I came to realize after meeting the local people, our guides on safari, the cooks at our camp and the families and children we worked with. You get the experience of visiting a faraway place so different from where we come from. In Tanzania people wave at you to say hello, you get to try to speak the language, you eat the cuisine of the country.
You get to contribute to a fantastic cause - We helped a school where the kids outnumber the seats in the classroom, we worked with a family who had no electricity and not much connection to the outside world and we saw the conditions they live in. It was a privilege to be able to contribute something to these people and the feeling is one of true happiness once you leave some positive changes behind.
You get to meet other kids from schools all over the world - There were many other kids from other Nord Anglia schools and I got to make new friends for the week. You also get to work in groups with the other schools which was really nice because we were working as a team with people we had only just met 10 minutes ago.
These are just some of the things I came away with from such an amazing experience - other people will have different things of course. I can say I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone. There is no typical person who should do this trip. It is a great experience that will stay with me for me forever and definitely an experience which has made me think about what I want to do in life.
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