"In My African Dream........." Kilimanjaro Region by Geisha_Girl
Kilimanjaro Region Travel Guide: 179 reviews and 379 photos
I came to the Kilimanjaro region to live and work with the local communities, and to interact with the locals with their day-to-day way of living. My experience there inspired me, challenged me, and at times, overwhelmed me. It was different from any other travel experience I have ever gone through. Most importantly, as much as I wanted to go there to help change their lives, it opened the door to new relationships with people who actually changed mine.
My decision to do my first volunteer program in Africa was an easy one. I didn’t even have to think twice about it. The idea evolved when a friend and I were in the early stages of planning our annual big holiday abroad. We were so close to confirming our flight tickets to the Greek Isles and just trying to decide “Which villa and which island shall we stay on?” Simultaneously, something *sparked* inside the two of us, and we looked at each other and thought, “Let’s do something different this year.”
I’ve always felt so blessed and so fortunate to have traveled to faraway lands and been able to explore some of the deepest corners of the world. This time, let’s take it a step a further and explore the deepest corners of my heart. That was the deciding factor. There was no doubt that Africa was calling me. This was an opportunity for us to give something back during our time away from work and our everyday life.
The beauty about all of this was that those closest to me never questioned why I decided to volunteer in Africa. I thought it would completely shock my family and friends, but nobody ever questioned, “Why?” As soon as I broke the news, it was all about “What do you need? How can we help?” ........ I love you guys.
I always thought it quite odd when work colleagues or acquaintances would say to me, “Wow, Africa. You are so brave.” Brave? I didn’t quite understand which part of going to Africa made me courageous.
Recently, a wise dear friend help put that into perspective for me
(….yes, you are wise, my dear friend!)
As an “outsider looking in to the culture here in the U.S.” he says:
Many many people over here are completely numb to anything outside of their sanitized, controlled environment and because of that they are actually the ones who are selling themselves short. They don't know half of the experiences and outlooks and thoughts that they could have and as a result they become media-programmed automatons who think that they are experiencing a full life.
Now I know that these sorts of conditions exist throughout the world, but if you are a member of one of the most powerful and wealthy nations in the world I think it is your duty to go out and experience the rest of the world and other cultures. Even if it might be difficult.”
In a lot of ways, this explains perfectly how those folks are impressed with my “bravado” of jumping on a plane and heading to far-off Africa land.
There's a baseline of comfort in their lives that seems impossible (to them) to surpass. But it's all quite easy, actually.......anyone can cross over.
The group of volunteers I worked with in Tanzania was comprised of ALL Americans, and one British. A majority of those Americans were from "small town USA" and mostly from the southern regions of the U.S. For some of them, Africa was their first trip out of their home state. (and, yes, I'll admit it........I thought they were "brave"). During our nightly discussions after dinner, they would share stories of how they came from areas of the U.S. where racial bigotry was still so prevalant. There is no doubt in my mind that Africa has brought a whole new perspective in their lives and they will certainly carry on the "crusade" in their hometowns.
So now, upon hearing that I returned from Africa land safe and sound, and someone says to me, “Wow you are so brave,” my immediate response to them is: “You can do it too.”
I returned from my trip a crusader trying to rally up more people to get out there and volunteer in the far off lands. See for themselves what’s really going on in these countries and not just trust what they read in “Time” or “Newsweek.” I’d be the first to inform them that the loose change they drop into the charity box next to the lollipops and BIC lighters at the 7-11 may not necessarily reach that orphan in Guatemala or the Philippines.
What I also realized is that “Third World” or “under-developed country” is not an accurate description. What is a “Third World” anyways? To me, Africa (Tanzania in general) is not “Third World.” It is our world and it is certainly developing.
A peculiar incident happened to me on the day I was departing for my trip. I ran an errand at the Radio Shack store down the street from my house, simply to pick up rechargeable batteries and some portable travel speakers for my CD player. I was rushed, so a quick 5 min stop was what I anticipated. The sales guy there noticed I was stocking up on travel supplies and inquired as to where I was going. I could already tell by his accent (after months of listening to the “Teach Yourself Swahili” CD) that he was of African descent. When I told him I was headed to Africa, his eyes bulged out in wonderment. Before he could ask, “Why?” I explained that I was volunteering in Tanzania. Turns out, he is a Nigerian who moved his family to the U.S. 5 years ago……and had never traveled outside of his home country until his big move. What threw me for a loop was when this “brave” African man asks me, “Why go all the way to Africa to volunteer? Why not just head to East Oakland or the Bronx?”
Okay, shall I explain my stance to this man in just 5 minutes????
What started out as a 5 min quick stop errand, evolved into a 45 minute debate over why it was important for me to expose myself to this new culture, and immerse myself in hands on service that could potentially reach a global level. I have skills, damnit, that could possibly catalyze social change and I must show my support and solidarity to our brothers and sisters across the globe and allow them to become aware of the world around them through their exposure to other cultures as well !! It’s all about cross cultural solutions, my African brotha!
At the end of my “lecture,” I paid my $34.52 USD, smiled, and he responded:
“I hope you enjoy your stay in Africa. Take lots of pics!”
Oh, the irony……..
Best time to climb is considered to be from August to October .......and January to March. It is wet in the rainforest... more travel advice
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