Before starting at Camps I had spent six months travelling South East Asia where I saw and experienced some amazing things, however, none of it compared to my week in Tanzania. There’s something extraordinarily unique and enchanting about this country that left me eager to discover more. The sites, smells, tastes and colours were enticing and the people I met were incredibly kind and welcoming. For example, throughout the week every school we visited had prepared a welcome song for us; the local communities would stop to wave and when we visited a Masai tribe they performed a traditional welcome dance and even managed to get us up on our feet to join in!
Since my Camps journey began I have heard many stories about the amazing projects we run. Camps’ aim is to make a long-lasting difference by improving the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. By providing them with life’s essentials such as clean drinking water and food security to housing and healthcare, Camps gives an otherwise unimaginable chance to escape the vicious cycle of poverty. I was impatient to see for myself just how much of an impact Camps has had so far and I can certainly say that the result of all our volunteers’ hard work in Tanzania is incredible!
On the day-long coach ride to the Tanzanian coast it was disheartening to see row upon row of houses falling into disrepair and small children hanging around on the sides of the road; I couldn’t help but think that they should have had the opportunity to be at school. However, when we finally arrived at Camp Tanga to meet a family of ten living in a small, rural village called Subutuni, I had the chance to see what Camps is all about. We stepped off the bus and were greeted by what felt like hundreds of children shouting ‘jambo’ and eagerly trying to hold our hands. They led the way enthusiastically through their local village; there were chickens and goats running wild; palm trees as far as the eye could see and the sun made its first appearance of the week. My mood immediately lifted when we turned the corner and saw the home of this family, built in traditional Tanzanian style by our amazing Camps volunteers!
Camps finished building this house for an elderly widow and her family in 2017 and it has made a significant difference not only for the family, who was on the brink of homelessness, but also for the community who suffer from the worst kind of poverty imaginable. The work that Camps’ volunteers have been doing is truly life changing! This house has now become the heart of the village with children coming from throughout the community to socialise. With school not always being an option for many, it is comforting to know that they now have a safe place to spend their days. I also believe it gives hope to many other families in the community that Camps will one day be able to make a positive impact on their lives too.
We continued our journey along a mud track to the outskirts of the village, all the while the children were swinging from our arms and singing a traditional Tanzanian song. In front of us a new classroom was being built and painted in bright, inviting colours along with enough chairs and tables to accommodate a classroom full of students! Previously many of them didn’t have the opportunity to attend school on a regular basis because it was more than a four kilometre walk away. In some cases they couldn’t afford the school fees because the collapse of the fishing industry in their local area had left them with very little resources. It was heartwarming to see that these children would soon have access to an education which in turn would hopefully lead to employment and a brighter future for them and their families.
Tanzania has been an incredibly humbling and eye-opening experience and I am excited to see many more projects unfold in the future where our help is needed the most. And, as a parting gift, when we arrived at the airport, sad that the week had come to an end, an African man told me ‘now that you’ve visited Africa, you will forever have good luck’. I really hope the same goes for all our incredible volunteers who are contributing towards these life-changing projects!