Salt Lake City, UT
I have loved Africa for as long as I can remember. Born in Calcutta, India and adopted by a single mother, I have always had a passion for helping children in developing countries. When I was young, my mom had a book of the world, and I often gazed longingly at the pictures of Africa. I hope to travel and do humanitarian work in other areas of the world as well, but Africa will always remain close to my heart. I love the culture, the language and the people of Africa. They continually remind me to put my relationships first and to love first and always. I cannot think of a place I love more than Africa, it truly feels like home to me. While I do believe that I can the many that are in need there, I also know that they can teach me innumerable things by sharing their experiences and lives with me. I always look forward to the day when I will be there again--loving, living and helping every moment that I can.
As rudimentary details, I will preface by stating the different things I did while there.
I taught at Faraja School for orphaned children, or the Life Community Development Centre, every morning for the three months I was there. I also visited orphanages outside of my school as a part of my CCS internship focus. I ended up spending a lot of time at the Bahath orphanage and taught many of their children as well. My internship focus centered on the orphan situation in the different communities of Moshi and how each community assesses the orphan situation. This can include having an orphanage that stays open for part of the day, having a day school for the children, having a care center or having an orphanage that serves as a home and school. I visited many different centers and schools and assessed how the children were doing educationally and developmentally and compared them to children I work with in the United States and each other. Outside of my internship I also visited my co-volunteers placements. This led me to aid Becca in teaching the women of Kaloleni once a week, visiting her placement at Upendo Artists Association and going to other schools in different communities. Other than those things, I mostly spent time with my wonderful friends, both from the U.S. and Africa and went on some fun adventures! Safari, Lake Chala and Klimanjaro were all incredibly enriching experiences as well.
I will post some excerpts from my blog, because I think that I capture a lot of what Moshi meant to me in my posts…
July 15th, 2011 – “So I know you all are aware of the fact that I am quite in love with Africa. I also hope you know how much I love my kids at my school. I truly would do anything to help them and I can’t imagine a day without seeing their smiling faces. It is the type of thing that makes you realize your heart has incredible depth and capacity to love. Coming to Africa has truly made me realize that I can love even more than I thought possible, that I am able to achieve things I saw as distant dreams and that it truly is possible to love the world to peace.
…my friends here in Africa- you all have shown me how to love in many different ways and how to face all kinds of circumstances. I feel so lucky to have met people with hearts that mirror mine in many ways and people who really understand where I am coming from. I know that together we can change the world and become ambassadors for those in need. Last but certainly not least I would have to put my kids and the people of Africa – I cannot put words to this experience nor to the amount of times they have stolen my heart! Coming to Africa has proven to me that I will be serving children forever and that helping people in developing countries is going to be a part of my life permanently. It is as though I finally did the thing my heart was waiting for – that sounds oh so cheesy – but it is definitely the truth. Asante sana Afrika, una iliyopita maisha yangu milele.
….It is amazing how fragile life is, how things change and move so quickly and while we can walk around having lives that are relatively calm, there are so many people who are living fragile, inconsistent lives.”
I believe that Moshi revealed to me parts of myself that I hadn’t thought about before. It tested me and also encouraged me to continue to pursue my dream of helping others. I made a lot of wonderful friends and met many amazing people that showed me different ways to love and to work together. I think about the women of Kaloleni, the kids at my school, the children at the Bahath Orphanage, the families in Uru and the many other children there that continually need consistent, willing people to enter into their lives and encourage them to achieve their own dreams. I had hard times in Moshi, and also some of the best times of my life in Moshi. It is a place full of rich culture and loving people.
Forty-five minutes after our ascent from Stella, we made it to Uhuru peak!
After the climb I wrote a post in my blog about how I felt about the experience –
August 15th, 2011 “Climbing Kilimanjaro was fun, difficult, spiritual, enlightening and very cold, haha. Climbing gave me the ability to really think and be inside my own head for awhile. After having my grandma pass away and then facing the reality of having to leave Africa soon after the climb I had a lot to think about. I am glad I was given a chance to really reflect on my time in Africa, my kids, the women I helped teach, my co-volunteers and who I was in relation to the world I now understood.
I cried when I saw the sign at the top. After 5 days of climbing and thinking about the summit, and then 7 hours of climbing up to Stella in the night while it was freezing cold and then 45 minutes to Uhuru we had made it to the summit!! The feeling I felt was a mixture of joy, relief and excitement. I looked back at Becca with tears welling in my eyes - after experiencing and living through so many things together we had finally conquered the 4th tallest mountain of the Seven Summits!
memories: I have found that while some things that happened on the mountain were just reality at the time, now they are precious and funny memories. I feel that everything that happened was so wonderful and I know that it was a once in a lifetime experience because I had Becca, Kayla and Rachel with me, and our guides and the way everything happened was something I can re-live in my memory for years to come. Everything about it was wonderful, even if it wasn't wonderful at the time (even the scary spiders and being absolutely freezing and having to pee every 5 seconds due to the Diamox).
While on Kili, I learned that I can do so many things if I just set my mind to them. I am not saying that I wasn't aware of this before, but I was definitely putting this into action while climbing. I remember on summit day I just relied on the image of Becca's feet ahead of me. I felt that if I just kept following her feet I would be fine. Here I must note that I was a little bit out of it due to the altitude, so my thoughts were slightly scattered. I also remember telling myself that climbing was all mental - my body could do it, I just had to believe I could do it. I had come all that way, so course I could summit. And...I did :). I am so grateful for the people with me, for our guides and porters, our amazing cook David and for my family and friends for being so excited and supportive of my climbing experience.
When I think about Kili I still feel very happy and full of life. It is another thing that pulls me immediately back to the true happiness I felt in Africa.”
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world?”
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”- Mohandas Gandhi
"Not all that glitters is gold, not all who wander are lost."
"This is for every time love becomes the finest minute in the darkest hour" – Shane Koyczan
"It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving." Mother Teresa
"I don't want to end up simply having visited this world." – Mary Oliver
"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." Albert Einstein