In summer 2023 I spent 4 weeks with a group of 17 like-minded students and 3 adults from across the UK travelling across 4 different camps in northern Tanzania (near Kilimanjaro) helping different local communities, areas of wildlife and gaining a deeper understanding of the rich culture of this country. We worked on painting, building up floors and walls across 3 different primary schools interacting with the pupils and staff. At the environmental camp in the bush, we worked with the local rangers to fortify a watering holes for animals as learning bushcraft skills such as archery and den-building. Perhaps most importantly we visited several of the 120 Chagga tribes, participating in singing and learning about individual tribe’s skillset and culture. It felt good to make a difference and I particularly loved re-building a concrete floor in our first school because of the interactions we had with the children around us. We knew this work would help them and they were genuinely excited to see us. And to tease us – they put wet concrete on my face!
Most of the work was focussed around benefiting children’s education in Tanzania, which is a crucial aspect of success and social mobility for the next generation. A lot of the work that we were doing was renovation and preservation, as we built upon existing structures to benefit people as well as wildlife.
These four weeks have not only improved my perception and understanding of the world around me but visiting different cultures and living under different conditions has had a large effect on me. I am more aware of the consequences of my actions and of the differences and inequalities in people’s lives around the world. Hard work felt rewarding – even though I don’t particularly enjoy physical activities at home, every day I could leave whatever site we were working at and know that I was doing something good. I feel like I have grown as a person, I was only 14 when I went (I’m 15 now) but I feel older having witnessed these things and having worked so hard to help people.
I loved the collaboration with my group. Over the course of a month we became good friends, despite all being rather different people. Also, seeing the wildlife and being on safari for a couple of days was an incredible experience. We were lucky enough to be surrounded by a herd of 30 elephants, this was particularly funny given that the week before we had made paper from elephant dung. I tried to give a piece to my headmaster when I got home!!
Thank you so much for supporting me and helping me grow as a person through this amazing experience.