By Shaun Lye and Gia Tan, Head Students
Located south of the equator, we knew Tanzania would be hot, but no one had expected such temperatures. After gathering for a group picture with the airplane, we quickly made our way indoors to process our visas and collect our rucksacks. Outside we met two of our three guides – Gary and Emily – and wound our way through a very green landscape to Shamba Kipara Camp, our home for the next week.
On arrival we were spilt into three groups and our activities pretty much began straight away. The itinerary for the week included building a new secondary school where we would spend two full days mixing and pouring cement for the school’s new foundations. This was tiring, manual work yet rewarding as we could see the fruits of our labour. We were taught how to mix the gravel, sand and 50 kg bags of cement alongside local tradesmen employed by the Seeway charity.
Amongst the workers, there was a 17-year old young man called David, who had been sponsored by Seeway and was hoping to study architecture at university. Many of us bonded with David and learning about his interests and hobbies helped us understand that he was no different from us, leading to many of us making friends with him.
Within three days, we completed a total of nine goat sheds, nine solar panel systems, and nine smokeless stoves for the most vulnerable families within the local community. The project work introduced us into the homes of genuine Tanzanian people.
This experience was definitely eye-opening and to see up close how these people lived without electricity and other things we take for granted truly made us appreciate what we have. On a more personal level, we got to ask questions to the home owners and tried to understand life from their perspective. After going through a lengthy application process, to finally end up with things that will forever change their lives, the families were very grateful. Some of us even got to name the goats we made the shelters for, which was a nice little bonus!
Before we knew it, we were headed back to the airport, many of us unwilling to leave the beautiful campsite. Tanzania brought us many things - delicious food, lifelong friends, and unforgettable experiences - but most importantly, it taught us to value what we have in life. With a renewed realization of just how lucky we are, we said goodbye to Tanzania, began our journey back to Guangzhou.