Last May, I had the opportunity to study abroad in South Africa and Tanzania. I went with Belmont University and got to stay for three weeks. We were studying the Apartheid in South Africa so we went to various historical sites and met with several political prisoners. Along with studying the Apartheid, we also had the opportunity to work with children at Red Hill School. Red Hill is an informal township in Capetown, meaning it does not receive any government funding. At the school, we played with the children and taught them songs & dances. We got to spend three days with the kids so it was amazing getting to build relationships, even in such a short amount of time. This was my first experience witnessing poverty outside of the United States, however, I realized that they were far from “lacking”. In Africa, the presence of community is so strong, whereas in the U.S., I feel that it is not sometimes.
After a week and a half in South Africa, we traveled to Tanzania to work with ECHO and climb part of Mount Kilimanjaro. For those of you who do not know, ECHO is an impact center located in East Africa that serves as a basic training center giving technical assistance to help organizations and community development workers to work more effectively to reduce hunger. We worked with the team to build trenches on farms in Tanzania to help keep the crops safe during monsoon season. Unfortunately, Tanzania receives a lot of rain during this season causing the crops and soil to be washed away. By building these trenches for families, we were able to reduce destructive soil erosion, collect water for the fields, and help distribute the water more evenly throughout the fields. This was such an eye opening experience because this is something that I, myself have never had to worry about. Though it felt like we didn’t do much, we left a huge impact on these families in ways we will never know.
We also spent two days climbing part of Mount Kilimanjaro and stayed in the cutest campsite. The climb was breathtaking and not too difficult! We got to experience the immense amount of wildlife and the best views. If you ever have the chance to go, I highly recommend taking the time to do this!
The last couple days in Tanzania were spent on safaris! We got to tour the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara. This was my favorite experience in Africa because of the wildlife! We saw monkeys, lions, zebras, giraffes, and more! Below I’ve posted photos from the trip. If you ever have the opportunity to go, I’d love to share more with you 🙂 This trip was so many things to me, but challenging is the word that describes it best. And not in a sense of difficulty, but in a sense of growth. I look forward to hearing your thoughts! Hope everyone is having a great Thursday!