Embarking on this journey the first time in 2009 I knew that I would be facing an eye opening, and life changing experience. Even with this awareness, the depth of the impact was incomprehensible at the time. I cannot begin to explain how intense my experience in Tanzania was; I can however say that this experience resonated so deeply in me, and touched my heart in such a way that I jumped at the chance to return this year.
Leaving Los Angeles and my loved ones behind was extremely challenging and most definitely tugged at my heart strings, but I knew that what awaited for me was another unforgettable experience. As each passing day flies by I am constantly reminded of this. This country is beautiful, the people are wonderful, and the culture is so amazing.
It began with our first visit back to Mrupanga Primary. I’ve always wanted to make a positive impact on other people, it’s the reason why I became so involved with Insight in the first place. When I left in 2009 my only hope was that I’d made a difference some how, that hopefully I had touched someone’s heart in a way that would impact their lives in a positive way. Upon arriving to the school I was overwhelmed with so much happiness; the mamas and children remembered me. Once again I was swarmed by children (which literally happens everywhere) who followed me to visit the dream tree mural. I went to see where we had painted our names and the kids ran and pointed to where I had painted Lisi. Just being there once again and seeing the kids and the mural I can honestly say that I totally left a piece of my heart here back in 2009.
My first weekend was extremely jam-packed, and amazing. For this trip we managed to expand our program and workshops into another primary school called Longuo. Like last time, we took on a beautification project. We were going to fix clean and paint a school building, as well as create a mural for the school. While some of our group led the teacher workshops on Saturday and Sunday for 60 teachers from the area at Mrupanga Primary, Kelley and I lead the work team at Longuo Primary. The project went on from saturday to Monday. I pretty much spent 3 full days cleaning, painting, and helping the mural team draw the mural (mainly painting as much as I could). Despite the amount of physical work that I did, I found that I had a lot of energy. I think it’s the painting; once again life is reminding me of how soothing painting is for me. Oh, and I’ve concluded I’m like a 5 yr old when it comes to big painting projects. My paint clothes are totally covered in paint, and I’m pretty sure I still have paint on me :) I LOVE IT. Anyways, the building looks amazing, the mural is still a work in progress, and I can’t wait to help with it.
This week has been a wonder! We started our student workshops and english classes and it has been a heart warming experience. I’m not going to lie, lunch time breaks my heart a million times over every day. We can’t help but give the kids some of our food and extra water. Despite moments like those, I’ve had a wonderful time connecting with the kids, playing with them, dancing, drawing. It still astonishes me how these kids that have so little (often barely enough to cover basic needs) have so much love and happiness that they share so openly with everyone. The workshops are amazing! We talk about communication tools, create sanctuaries, and talk about dreams. The kids always have such beautiful things to share. And the English classes are going well. We have a large group of talented individuals that have many different strengths, and the classes have come together beautifully.
If i knew anything coming into this journey once again it was that not only would I be teaching these children life tools, but I would also be learning a lot from them. So far I have been learning about loving whole heartedly, appreciation, gratitude, a passion for learning, and the importance of having faith. If anything my hearts expanded a million times (think of the Grinch). Honestly, it’s impossible not to. Everyone that we work with shower us with so much kindness and love. Sometimes life just goes by too fast and I forget how to really express the love that I have for the people I love in my life. This is like a wake up call. You never know where life will take you or when. Live in the moment, forget fear and insecurities just love. Seeing these children who don’t have parents, or live at the orphanage shakes me. I know my family is one of the greatest blessings in my life, but it is definitely one that I could appreciate so much more. I’m also extremely grateful for my education. If anything seeing the thirst these children have for educating themselves only motivates me more in my goals. And lastly, the faith that these children have really touches me. My mom taught me at a young age that in life one must always have faith even in hard times. She used to tell me that regardless of what happens if I have faith everything would be okay. Faith literally keeps these kids going from day to day and I can’t help but be moved by it. I’m so happy I’m here, and able to experience this again.
As you can see I’ve been having an amazing time here, and it’s not over yet! If you’re wondering, I’m doing well and don’t worry I have a million stories to tell and tons of pictures to share. I just wanted to share a little bit of this unforgettable journey.
PLEASE JOIN US IN SUPPORTING LONGOU PRIMARY SCHOOL. IT IS ONLY $15 A YEAR TO FEED ONE STUDENT LUNCH FOR THE SCHOOL YEAR. IT IS $6500 TOTAL TO FEED THE SCHOOL FOR ONE YEAR AND WE HAVE USED $1000 OF OUR OWN MONEY SO FAR TO PAY FOR THE FOOD. ATTENDANCE AT THE SCHOOL GOES DOWN WHEN THEY CANNOT EAT A FULL MEAL, RIGHT NOW THEY ONLY GET HALF A CUP OF CORN MAIZE AND 6 BEANS…IT MAY BE THEIR ONLY MEAL EACH DAY SO THEY LEAVE MID DAY TO FIND FOOD ON THE STREETS INSTEAD STAYING IN SCHOOL. WE WANT TO ENSURE THAT THEY EAT AND LEARN. PLEASE DONATE TODAY!