My Labor of Love: Building Schools in Africa (Part 2)

Hi there,

Check out Part 2 of my post on the MSL Conversations Blog about AIA’s trip to Tanzania this past summer. If you haven’t yet, check out my first post about our time rebuilding classrooms in Olasiti village.

– Alyssa

After a week in Olasiti village, our group traveled to Ulolela village in southeastern Tanzania. The trip took two days – a full day (15-hour) bus ride (on the African version of a Greyhound), followed by an equal-length car ride the next day. But it was worth it when we were met with a celebration of traditional African singing and dancing, which followed us for the last mile of our trip.

In Ulolela, we stayed with host families for five days and oversaw the final construction on our Community Learning Center. We held a village meeting to celebrate the opening of our Center, the only building in the village with electricity—I even flipped on the lights for the first time after they installed the solar panels! Classes in the CLC will begin soon, and will have curricula on self-empowerment, business fundamentals, and HIV/AIDS awareness, which we had translated into Swahili.

Ulolela village was the most remote location I’d ever been to – the closest city (i.e. had some electricity and plumbing) was an hour away. But the simplicity was beautiful. The village was in a valley surrounded by hills with patches of farming land. We went on hikes to neighboring villages and the highest peaks, and saw waterfalls, Lake Malawi, and a walking stick (!!). We played soccer with young villagers, who beat us without breaking a sweat, on the most picturesque field on Earth.

After saying goodbye to my host mother, who gave me a decorative, handmade axe that I somehow got back into the states, we had another two-day journey to Dar Es Salaam. Unfortunately, the closest I came to an actual safari was passing through a wildlife reservation, but I still saw monkeys, a far-off giraffe, and a zebra crossing the road.

But, in Swahili, “safari” actually means “journey.” So, from founding the organization with my fiancé, to managing our three projects, to our trip this summer, it’s been quite the safari. And thankfully, it’s just the beginning.

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