There are only rare instances in life when one can truly experience magic before their very eyes, magic that seems so very unfamiliar and yet undeniably present.
There are very rare instances where one can truly appreciate that magic and simply stand agape at its scale. I am speaking, of course, about the life-changing experiences we were granted during the Year 10 service trip to Tanzania in December 2018.
In terms of preparation for our trip, there was a lot of hard work from both students and staff. The Tanzania service team took on different tasks throughout the first weeks of Term 1, holding Tanzania Day and the following fundraising week a success. These tasks ranged from organising book and bake sales, to encouraging students to donate money by coming in non-uniform, participating in the array of activities we had prepared, such as the inter-year football, netball matches and face painting stations.
Little did we know that all our efforts would pay off as spectacularly as they did and come to fruition at a scale none of us expected. Not only did we manage to fundraise an astounding amount of more than 60,000 AED, we simultaneously managed to inspire the next generation of BIS Abu Dhabi to pursue the same adventure in Tanzania. All the money we raised went to purchasing the equipment and materials needed to build a goat shed, smokeless stove, install solar lights and donate a milking goat in the homes of three different families.
I have yet to completely comprehend what we accomplished during our stay at Shamba Kipara Private Camp. We spent the first night just attempting to take it all in, adapt to the new dry climate and lush green environment enveloping us, however, in no time, we were already itching to get started with our service project work.
Amongst all the tough labour we also took the opportunity to absorb the simplicity of our surroundings and the strong willpower of the locals living in the rural villages we were working in. One of the highlights was getting to meet the local children, making them laugh and taking turns playing with them in between our building working. The bond we had made with the children made it difficult to leave at the end of the day, however we knew that the hours we spent them would really have a positive impact on their lives.
The next few days of our trip raced by quickly. The two-day Safari and camp in the Tarengire National Park were extremely memorable as we camped under the stars and amongst the wildlife. We also trekked through lush vegetation and identified over 20 different types of fruits and vegetables such as bananas, potatoes, ginger, lemon, coffee and quinine, which is used in the making of Malaria tablets. Another memorable fruit we saw was the rare roberry, which is a cross between a raspberry and strawberry.
The last two days were physically tough, yet extremely rewarding. After our night at Dolly Bush Camp, we began our final project, which was building classrooms for the students at Imbaseni Primary School. The hours were long and the heat was scorching, until at one point, we struggled through pouring rain! Nevertheless, we persisted. We managed to build not one, but two classroom floor foundations, raise brick walls on another classroom and build classroom desks and chairs for eight students. We thanked the Seeway staff for their much-needed support and said one final goodbye to the students.
It’s safe to say that our time in Tanzania will leave a large footprint in our lives going forward. We were a family there and saw a different side to each person that we never would have seen on a regular school day. We relished the fun times and effortlessly marched through hard times (such as sitting through Mr. Zindilis’ infamous Green Man joke!).
To wrap up, this trip ignited a newfound empathy within me and my peers that we will carry with us for the remainder of our lives. We learned precious skills, made life-long memories, welcomed new friends and could not feel anything but an undeniable sense of accomplishment for the positive impact our efforts will hopefully make on the lives of the families we worked with there.
We promised to appreciate the circumstances we’ve been blessed with, whilst also treasuring all the richness Tanzania had offered us during our stay there.
Like I said, there are only rare moments in life where one can truly experience magic before them and this was one of those instances.
All the best to next year’s daring volunteers… I yearn for them to share that very same magic.
Mahra Almesaybeh, Year 10 student