Tommie is just back in from Camp Tanzania which has been buzzing with students from Dubai… I have been away in Tanzania for the past two weeks following up on a group of young enthusiastic studentsåÊ from United Arab Emirates on their school trips. Gems World Academy came to Tanzania on a Week Without Walls program. 51 students aged between 11 and 14 with their 6 Teachers made the GWA team. I went and met them at the airport and immediately all the group members gathered around me, if only to say..here we are, bring it on! The next two days the group was split into two, one group was engaged in repairing school furniture, desks, benches and Tables while the other group was painting and drawing murals on the walls of the kindergarten classroom. On day Four the group left camp very early to go on a full day of game viewing at Tarangire National Park. They saw loads of Elephants as Tarangire is known to be the best habitat for the the world’s largest terrestrial mammal. They also saw lion, giraffe, and antelope only to mention a few. On their fifth day the group was again split into two where group one went hiking at the Kidia falls. Kidia is on the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro the inhabitants are the Chagga people who are small scale farmers. The hike takes you through, banana and coffee plantations, small maize fields and a few homesteads where you will meet with the villagers who are very friendly and welcoming. It’s a steep descent and very challenging, but once one gets down to the falls it’s just stunning! The water is from the thawed glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro and it is crystal clear and very cold!åÊ On a good day one could see Mt. Kilimanjaro and the scenery and landscape are breathtaking. On their way back to camp from Kidia falls the students were taken to an orphanage where they donated lots of clothes and toys. Charlie Cracknell later wrote to us to share his experience… My experience in Tanzania was so different from my normal everyday life. The first thing that struck me was the beauty of the country and people. Everyone seemed so happy despite having so little which made me appreciate how much I have. We spent the first few days at a local school helping to repair desks and benches and also painting the kindergarten. During these days I felt a sense of achievement and that I was really making a difference to the children‰Ûªs‰Ûª lives. It wasn‰Ûªt until a couple days later when we visited the local orphanage that I met a little boy named Junior. I remember walking through the gates and being hugged by these little kids. It was really heart-warming. When I sat down, Junior came up to me and said hello. He gave me a smile and I remember feeling quite sad at the time because it felt like he did not know he no parents or that he had so little and yet he was still smiling. I knew at that point that I would always remember him. By Charlie Cracknell GEMS World Academy, Dubai Meanwhile, the other group went out to help a local lady with her daily chores. Some students were fetching water from the stream, others were cutting grass for the lady‰Ûªs domesticated animals, and some learnt how to cook a typical Chagga meal which they later all had for lunch. A great day to spend out of camp and have a hands on experience in the village and be part of some activities that the locals get involved in their daily lives. Day seven was pretty much wrapping up and putting in final touches on the activities that the groups got stuck in. Some of the students tried their hand at Teaching. We organized for at least two students to be in a classroom to try and teach English. They were given text books and had very little time to prepare for the lesson but our volunteers did very well and got the local pupils learning and the sessions went on well. Thereafter the volunteers distributed a few donations that they had brought with them including, pencils, erasers, rulers, books and sharpeners. In the afternoon our friends from Dubai played some games with the school kids and it was great fun to watch both sets of players battling it out. Later that evening we had a nice barbeque dinner for our volunteers to symbolize the end of their stay with us and to thank them for choosing Tanzania as their destination. Hat tip to all the students and Teachers of Gems World Academy for a job well done! Asante sana!