Discover what it’s like to journey through Tanzania on a ME to WE Trip with Jodie, our Kenya/Tanzania Leadership Director.
Picture this. As you land in mid-afternoon, you may be lucky enough to see Mount Kilimanjaro, stunning and expansive. Most people flying into this airport will be preparing to climb, endure the effects of altitude and test their physical and mental strength. For us, we drive the opposite direction from what is typical. We are interested in the people, land and culture. So we head toward Tanzania’s Longido District—Free The Children’s newest focus in East Africa.
The drive is breathtaking, with lush forest, hills and mountains dotting the horizon. As you enter Longido and approach the village of Engikaret, you realize where the small place got its name, which means “a dry and thorny place.” Dust kicks up as you drive through, and the road is crooked and bumpy to avoid the low-lying acacia bushes. Although you may not see any homes at a first glance, children emerge from what seems like nowhere, excited and waving as you drive past. When you look closer, you’ll find traditional homes of mud and dung speckled across the dry land. Families in Longido are predominately Maasai, their diet consisting of occasional meat, locally grown vegetables and fruits, and ugali—a dense cake made from cornflour and water.
While you are there, you might meet someone like Nalangu. After waking up on a bed of sticks next to her many siblings, other family members and small livestock, her day-to-day life is not easy. Before she heads to school, she is required to help get water for her family. Across Tanzania, only 44% of people have access to clean water, and in the rural area of Engikaret, it’s estimated to be just 10%. This means that not only is water hard to access, it can also be a cause of many water-borne illnesses. Although school enrollment isn’t a big challenge within Tanzania, and Nalangu has access to a nearby elementary school, there are not enough classrooms to accommodate her and her peers. Some teachers may conduct classes under a tree, or take turns sharing a classroom. These are two of the main reasons why Free The Children has started a partnership with these communities. After the school day is finished, Nalangu will head home to help fetch more water, look after her younger siblings and take the goats and cows to graze. She’ll also try to squeeze in time to do her homework before it gets dark, as the family gathers around a few small candles to light the night before they head to sleep.
Though Nalangu and her family’s day might look like this, while you are a visitor in Tanzania, we will try to stick to foods you are more familiar and comfortable with, and a few comforts of home. You will, however, get a chance to walk in the shoes of someone like Nalangu, see a home much like the one she and her family live in, spend time at her school, and learn as much as possible about life in Engikaret. By the time you head home, we hope that you will have had an experience that goes far beyond the typical tourist in Tanzania. As you head back to Kilimanjaro to catch your flight, it’s possible that you will never look at your life at home in the same way again.
Learn more about school trips to Kenya/Tanzania