Carol Ann signed up for the Tanzania Volunteer Program with her husband, Ray, and their two teenage daughters, Mary Kathryn and Emma (19 and 17 years old). Read as Carol Ann beautifully reflects on her meaningful experience with her family volunteering in Tanzania together with Global Volunteers:
“This experience is hard to put into words, but I hope that this conveys our gratitude.
Our family just returned from a two week service program in Pommern, Tanzania, and I feel compelled to write about the Global Volunteers staff from the village: Edward, Mohammed and Mama Toni. This team’s commitment was evident from the moment we stepped out of the airport baggage claim where we found Mohammed, much to our surprise, waiting for us at 4:00 am (our flight was 2 hours late). We were welcomed with his wide smile and a warm hug. We were in good hands.
For the next 2 weeks, Edward, Mohammed, and Mama Toni made our stay in the village the most amazing experience.
- Mama Toni, a kitchen magician, produced 3 excellent meals a day for 13 people with a 2 burner cook top and a charcoal grill – always with a smile and a shy “hakuna matata” when thanked or asked if she needed any help. Laundry service was provided if needed and our rooms had a surprise mid-term tidy while we were away on a safari. She checked in on team mates who had become ill and always made sure that there was a plate left for people who were out to school early or back from school late.
- Mohammed had an uncanny way of popping up at just the right time to say hello, chat for a bit, and help you out with just about anything.
- Then there was Edward, a gift to our world, whose commitment to his community became more and more evident as the days wore on. We came to find out tidbits here and there which added up to the story of a man whose days begin before 7 am and end late in the evening. He quietly goes about his work to foster change while respecting the cultural traditions and history of a people. He matches partnerships carefully between each volunteer and th people of Pommern, liaises with the school staff and students with ease, and seemingly greets every villager by name. Through Edward, cultural exchange for us was outstanding. We learned so much and hope that we may have left a fraction of this behind. Though we were “mzungu, ” we always felt at home.
We consider ourselves very blessed to have met them and the people of Pommern. When our teenage girls (pictured above) speak of their trip to Tanzania in East Africa, they do not speak of safaris or other excursions that we made. They recall red earth and their walk to school, conversations with teens who dream just as they do, children leaping into their arms looking for a playmate, and voices united in song that seemed to just rise up to the heavens. I believe that the impact of these service programs has changed them and will inform who they become as people – open minded, contributing citizens of their world.
Long after the red sand has finally washed off our shoes and we have forgotten most of our meagre Swahili, we will not forget the people of Pommern, Tanzania and the meaning of “karibu.”
The Bohn Family was part of Team #178 to Tanzania – a team of eleven hard-workers: two families (including the Bohn’s), one couple, and three solo volunteers. Sharing a unique experience, the team formed a special bond and became a volunteer family during their 2-3 weeks together.
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