I have traveled a fair bit, but participating in this service learning program has been so much more than just traveling. I have learned so much about Tanzania, culture, and most of all I have learned so much about myself. Tanzania has been, by far, one of the most amazing places I have visited. The people here have a very special way of welcoming you, loving you, and making you feel like family. 5 weeks is not nearly enough time. My heart is heavy knowing that my time here is finished. As I write this, we’re in the CPAR truck on our way to Mwansa. Susie’s flight leaves today. Our flight leaves tomorrow.
Friday was our last day at Sazira School and Monday was our last day at Kunzugu School. I am so proud of the students and their commitment to the program. All the students we talked to had very positive things to say about their experience. They said they felt that they had learned something very valuable that they will take with them to their friends, family and community. One student that Melanie had talked to at Kunzugu said that he wishes that he could participate next year as well. A student from Sazira commented on his new understanding of gender and equality. I bellieve the students were happy to learn about sex and how to protect their health, which is so important. Yesterday we even stopped at a local hospital where we saw a waiting room full of HIV+ individuals who were there for meds and a routine check up. Even one of the CPAR staff talked about how her family has been affected by HIV. I feel so far removed from HIV and AIDS; in fact I don’t know anyone personal who is HIV+. I hope the students we’ve met take their knowledge to become our leaders of tomorrow. I know I will share my knowledge with my friends, family and community.
I’m struggling with the lack of contact I will have with the students now. They have been so influential on my life. I’m having a hard time accepting that our connection ceases now that we leave. It may be a selfsih thought that I would like to remain connected to them, I hope they view me as a friend and a resource. That is just my wish. We created an email so the students could contact us and remain connected if they have any uestions, thoughts, or just to keep our friendship.
There’s an African proverb that I learned our last day at Kunzugu School when we were celebrated for our time with the students; “Mgeni njoo, mwenyeji apone”.It means the guest comes so that the host can heal. It’s a beautiful proverb, but Tanzania, my friends, my new family, its so important that you know that you have healed me. I have had an incrediably hard start to my year. But the time I have spent here, has brought me back to myself. I am inspired. I am blessed. I am forever thankful. You have reminded me to stay tue to myself and follow my heart. My dreams of helping people, my strong desire to advocate for human rights and builld a healthy, peaceful sustainable future has been reconfirmed. All of the people I have met here have touched my heart in such a significant way. Words could never express my gratitute and love.