Monday, 22 August 2011

Profound perspective


Something about being here at home doesn’t feel right. It’s almost as if I’m missing a part of myself. Something must have gone wrong; I could have been bitten by a hungry lioness in the Serengeti, or maybe it was cramming us into a dala dala everyday on our way to work. Come to think about it, it could have been the feeling we got at the end of the trip, when the group of parents sung us their prayers, and we were graced with song and dance from groups of the children of Camp Joshua. Either way, regardless of what it was, something about me has changed.

I find it funny the stories I choose to tell my friends and family about our trip. My closest friends got the story of building the classroom, spending time with the amazing little children, and obviously, the lecture on how lucky we are to live where we do. The rest got the story of our safari, and how it got so boring after seeing countless zebra after zebra. There are many stories though I seem to hold inside; the ones that are only brought out when I’m with another friend from the trip. How can I properly recount a memory to a group of friends who just weren’t there to see it themselves? As the morning of our last day ended, and we were loading up the kids on the bus to go to Camp Joshua, I felt that it was time for me to finally get off the ride. I’m not sure what others may call it but I think it is best describes at an “emotion rollercoaster”. I had never shed so many tears in my life. One moment that surprised me the most was looking back to all us high school kids sitting in the room at Camp Joshua, watching the presentations. Everyone was crying. Here they were, twenty-two of the most passionate kids I know. At this time I was experiencing the weirdest feeling of my life. I had just spent the last however many hours crying and saying goodbye, but now, when it seemed the most emotional time, there were no tears to be shed. All I could do was smile. For the hour in time, those children made me the happiest person on Earth. How could I go about crying now, when all I could think about was all the moment we just had throughout those three weeks! We honestly walked in to Camp Moses for the first time with our tails between our legs. Our job that we were there to do had tripled and no one expected us to complete the things we did. We came together and we did it. So tell me now, how could I sit in that chair and not be the happiest person on Earth? With this new project, it now allows for many more children for Camp Moses to take in. I was speechless; my voice had been traded for this feeling; one that I will never forget.
Regardless if it takes me two years, or ten years, I will be back. Each and every time I speak about this trip, I always end it off with, “Africa is the type of place that I believe everyone should visit at least once”. In my eyes, I don’t believe that you could ever be a complete human being without seeing Africa. There’s nothing like seeing thousands of people, who have not a penny to their name, and filled with smiles and laughs. I’m going to miss waking up in the morning, and weaving through Zebras so that I can go to the bathroom. I’m going to miss being guarded by a Masai warrior everyday. I believe that somewhere inside of myself I’m a changed person. Whether it is noticeable or not, I know it, the twenty-one other kids know it, all the chaperones know it, and that’s what matters. I feel a special bond with these people now. And in the end, I wouldn’t have picked a different group to spend it with. We had the most loving, intelligent, and caring people who all came together with a common goal. Regardless if you change one person’s life by choosing to send their son to school, without having to worry about any expenses, or building a bunch of energy filled three year olds a classroom, it is 100% worth every penny we fundraised and worked for. Thank you to the Safari Wangu group for such a remarkable time.

Morgan Parker

Monday, 8 August 2011

Last Work Day

              This morning at basecamp did not start out like most. I had a surprising wake up. Pretta, the dog had climbed into my bed and decided to lick my face. Not the best wake up alarm, but it sure worked. I let Pretta out of the room and headed back to bed. The second time I woke up it was to the sound of laughter coming from the breakfast table. I much preferred to wake up to this! We had the usual eggs and toast. The Dala Dala’s picked us up at 8 and off we went to start our last day at work.

The minute we got there it was time to carry buckets of sand. We made it a bit more interesting by trying to carry them on our heads. We weren’t able to balance them so we used our hands to keep them from falling. Surprisingly enough this method made it easier to carry the buckets of sand from point A to point B. We also had the wonderful opportunity to meet Esther Poe today. She has not been living at Camp Moses because she recently had surgery to repair her legs. She was so happy and even taught us a song! The morning went by quickly and before we knew it was time for lunch. Today we mixed it up and had hard boiled eggs J&PB sandwiches for lunch instead of the usual PB&J.

After lunch it was time to mix cement. Everyone was tired, but worked hard to push through the pain and get the job done! We took shifts doing our jobs because we did face painting with the kids. It was great to see them all so happy when we painted their faces. When the face painting was done it was time to mix the last of the cement to pour down the posts. We were finished at 4 and took our last Dala Dala ride from Camp Moses back to Basecamp.

When we got home from work we headed to the Masai Market for the last time. We took the Dala Dala’s at the end of the road. It was a busier day than most but, we managed to find one with room for our whole group. We spent just under an hour at the market and picked up the last few things on our list. We said goodbye to the friends that we had made there and said that we hoped to see them again one day in the future. The Dala Dala’s were even busier on the way home! A few of us managed to hop in one that had 26 people in it! It was jam packed but, TIA. During the ride some of us chatted with locals. One man said it best “It’s not that there is not enough Dala Dala’s it’s that people are in too big of a hurry to get in one”. When we got home it was dinner time and as usual Isaac had an amazing meal prepared for us!

When dinner was finished I went up to the deck. It’s usually packed but, there was only a few of us up there. Then I heard people outside and then a few loud shrieks. Everyone is standing outside of the gate. I race down the stairs, book it outside and head for the gate. As I’m running I ask what’s going on and someone tells me that there is a Black Mamba dead right there. This makes me run even faster. We had really only heard about these snakes and seen them at the Snake Park. When I finally did get a look it was missing its head and still squirming! It’s one of the deadliest snakes in the world. Lots of people were brave enough to touch and some even picked it up but, I chose to watch from a distance.

It was an exciting way to end our final evening in Arusha. Looking back on what we have accomplished as group in such a short amount of time is truly amazing! Whether you dug trenches, laid bricks, mixed cement or carried buckets of sand every little thing helped contribute to the new classroom. Just to know that we have bettered these kids lives and given them a brighter future full of hope is an indescribable feeling.
Melanie MacKay

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Safari Day One

                                                    Day One Safari 
Safari  Journey in swahili. Journey is the perfect word to describe the experience that us as a group will never forget our first day of safari was pretty awesome . We had to get up and be ready on time for the Safari Jeeps at 8:30. Once the jeeps got to the house we all split into 4 groups of 7. Then we were on our way to Lake Manyara. After an hour and a half of driving we got to the gate, stopped, and had lunch. Once everyone was done we all hopped into our jeeps and off we went. We saw monkeys, antelope, elephants, baboons, velvet monkeys, bush buck dear, hammer cock, birds, giraffe, hippos, lions, and ostriches. 
After we saw all of these amazing animals we had to go and get settled at a camp site. The camp site was so nice, it had a pool, great food, and amazing entertainment. Over all the first day was a success and i am extremely stoked for the next few days of safari. 
By Kaytlin Derksen-Moore

Sunset over the Serengeti

Saturday, July 30th 2011 
Second day on Safari!
We left our luxury campsite this morning to drive to the Serengeti.  However, we drove around the Ngorongoro Crater first, and saw animals moving around (well actually little black dots moving around) from the rim of the crater.  While driving around the crater we drove past a bunch of Masai villages and Masai kids dancing on the side of the road.  Finally we entered the Serengeti at 12:50pm in the afternoon.  When we finally reached the gate to the park, it took us almost two hours to get through, because so many people were trying to enter the park at the same time as us.  During this time we “climbed” this little hill which gave us this nice view of the Serengeti.
Our first animal sightings in the Serengeti were two lions lying in the grass by a herd of zebras.  The lions did not go after them, they were just lazing around in the sun. After driving around for a bit we saw some really cool birds.  One, is called a Secretary  bird, because it “wears” a black mini skirt and a white blouse, it is also very good at killing snakes. While driving around we saw jackals, ostriches, giraffes, Tony eagles and a whole bunch of Acacia trees.  
The most exciting animal spotting of the day was Lucy, the leopard.  She was hanging out in a tree that was over the road, so it was a pretty special sighting because she was so close up.  After most of the the other cars had gone and only one of our safari vehicles remained, the one I was in. Lucky for us, Lucy came out of the tree.  She walked around the tree that she was in then walked right beside the land cruiser, and finally into the distance.  It was a pretty awesome sighting seeing as leopards are usually very shy.  On our way to the campsite our land cruiser saw crocodiles in a river and hyenas walking around.  Also the sunset on the Serengeti was absolutely spectacular, it had the most beautiful colours that I have ever seen in a sunset.  The other land cruisers saw giraffes up close and were very close to some female lions drinking water from a pool.  When we reached the campsite our tents are all set up and we have an awesome dinner with pumpkin soup.  
That night, the stars were absolutely amazing.  There were so many of them and you could clearly see the milky way which was an awesome site.  Although the lights in the sky were wonderful to look at, the lights in bushes were not so nice to look at.  Seeing as the lights in the bushes were probably hyena eyes about ten meters from our tents. It was really cool, but slightly creepy at the same time thinking that there were wild animals right outside our tents and that only a thin sheet of fabric separating us from them.  
All in all this was an amazing day on the safari seeing the Serengeti for the first time, lions and a leopard.  Sighting these amazing animals with awesome friends was a great way to to experience Africa in a very touristy, but fun way.  
By Anne Theilmann

The Big Five

After 4 days on Safari, we all came back to Basecamp dirty, smelly, and exhausted. Looking forward to a shower we were thoroughly bummed to discover the house was going on day 5 without water. (especially considering the time since our last shower had been even longer). The safari exceeded our expectations, and although the rhino was missing from the infamous "Big Five" our group made our own. This consisted of Kenya, Natalie, Kayla, Vern, and myself. Our driver was Peter and when the relatively smooth roads of the city were traded with bumpy dirt roads and pot holes, it seemed like our lives were somewhat in his hands. As the Safari was coming to a close end, when we all thought the sights of animals were done. Sitting in our jeeps at the last stop to check out of the national park, Natalie Kenya and myself were joined with a rather frightened baboon. Our drivers warned us “ make sure you close your windows or the monkeys will jump in!!”. Thinking that nothing was going to happen because there were 3 of us in the car the baboon took a running start and jumped into the drivers seat of our car.The baboon sitting in the front seat, Kenya behind, followed by Natalie then myself. Kenya used the tactic “ sit,scream,and stare” (due to the fact of a broken door that wouldn't open, Natalie chose to “fight” with a very interesting object... a pillow...why? who knows. Then for my tactic, I chose to take a leap of faith and jump out the small window that was easy to get to. I guess i jumped out pretty fast, but as soon as I saw that baboon look me in the eyes, i had no other choice.  Finally home after the crazy adventures, and wearing a different pair of clothes feeling the slightest bit cleaner. We all sat around a campfire and got a little bit of Canada getting some marshmallows and hot dogs. Half way through, we started to hear Masai chants at the bottom of the stairs. Soon after, we all found ourselves dancing and singing with 3 Masai men. Then the glow sticks came out, and i’ve never seen 3 men be so interested and excited about glow sticks. About an hour later,getting the feel of Masai dancing with a little bit of “ North American” dancing we were all having the time of our lives.
This trip has been even better then i expected. The people i’ve come close with, and the people i’ve met have changed my life. The kids that i have met with be in my heart for the rest of my life. There stories are amazing, and they are simply amazing. Our group decided to help one little boy, led by Pam. Little Bryton, he is 3 years old and is suffering from a hernia, not knowing if he is old enough or needs the surgery Pam took him to the hospital just to get checked out. Coming back from the hospital a little confused and happy, Pam was glowing with the news that it would only cost 300 U.S dollars for Brytons surgery. I am so happy we could do this for Bryton, and even more happy of what we accomplished at the work site. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to do this with, and i am so thankful for the teachers and chaperons that made this trip happen. It has changed my life incredibly. As were getting ready to say our goodbyes, pack up our stuff, say our thankyous we have all realized were not ready to go home. This trip has gone by faster then i think any of us thought it would. I really don’t think we realize really how hard its going to be tomorrow. Don't worry to everyone who told me numerous times "take lots of pictures" i did, and to Moses, Lili, and Ronnie thank you for everything you have done for our group. See you in June!

Acacia Carloni

Sunrise in the Serengeti

Our third day on safari, we’re all a little tired and are starting to look a lot tanner than we should because of all the dirt. This morning we woke up at around 5:30, had a quick bite to eat, a few sips of tea in the dark then we were off to watch the sunrise. Before the sun was even up we got to see two jackals, which are like foxes, chasing a cheetah, which we thought was a leopard at first, but that’s not something you see everyday! While this was all happening the sun was slowly creeping up over the horizon and lighting up the sky for a new day. We pulled into a nice spot with a good view to take some pictures of the sunrise. After our picture taking session, we drove for a little while and saw a bunch of jeeps parked on the side of the road, so we went to investigate. Turns out there were two cheetahs just sitting there about 10 meters off the side of the road! We were all so excited because it was, well so we thought, the first cheetahs of the trip! It was definitely a check off of the big five list, the only thing left is the black rhino. For those who don’t know what the big five is, it’s seeing a leopard, lion, water buffalo, elephant and black rhino. While we were watching the cheetahs, there was a hot air balloon that went right by us. It was really cool to see with the sunrise right behind it and all the trees, it was pretty close to the ground too which made a picture perfect setting. 
A bit later, just driving along the road, looking for any animal in sight, right there on the side of the road, 24 or so lions are just walking casually. There were female lions and baby cubs, a few of them just walked across the road right in front of us. Definitely one of the coolest things we saw on safari! Shortly after that, about fifteen feet from the side of the road, there is a random hippo just standing there. That was really cool to see because normally you only see them in the water. We had seen a bunch of hippos already, but just to see one out of the water so close was absolutely amazing. You don’t really realized how interesting and big they really are. 
We’re just about done our morning tour and we see something in a tree. We stop to get a better look and it’s an antelope. Lying there in the tree limp was an antelope that a leopard had just dragged up there. There was no sign of the leopard but it was just amazing to think that a leopard had the strength to drag an antelope 15 or so feet up a tree. 
Finally, after that we reached our turn around point for the morning tour at Hippo Pool, which is a river that is just filled with hippos! They were all crammed together splashing themselves with water with their tails to keep them cool. There were a few baby hippos as well that were simply adorable! When you think of a baby you think of something small, not when it comes to baby hippos. Even though they were babies, they were still about the size of a teenage kid. 
On our drive back we saw more animals, which included a few baby giraffes which were really cute as well. When we got back to Dikdik Pi Campsite we had the most amazing breakfast ever! We had crepes, hash browns, fruit, hot chocolate and tea. A great breakfast to add to a great day! After breakfast we packed up the campsite and set out on our way to the Ngorongoro Crater. 
When we got to Simba-a campsite, where we stayed the night, as we were unpacking an elephant walked into the campsite and started drinking the water out of the water tank! Like how often do you see an elephant, let alone one in your campsite stealing your water about 10 feet away from the campers. And that wasn’t our only animal encounter of the night. After dinner, a group of us girls were off to the bathroom on an interesting walk thanks to Mel, and we end up getting the crap scared out of us as we walked right into a herd of zebras! They were just standing right there in the middle of the grass area. Now if you were one of us girls, had to pee really bad, and it was pitch black outside with a couple of little flashlights to light the path and all of the sudden you see something big in the distance that looks about the size of a horse while being in the desert, I think it’s safe to say that a slight scream would be acceptable. 
After our scary little event, we all settled into one tent and told some scary stories, how appropriate. Layne and Rylee definitely had the best stories there. I think we all went to bed a little uneasy after that. I personally had a bit of a scary dream that night, and I guess it didn’t really help that there was a major windstorm that night and it was a really cold night so I don’t think many people had a very good sleep. But it was definitely good bonding time for us. It’s crazy to think that a group of teenagers can all come together and go on a three week humanitarian trip and work so hard and well together for others and not think of just ourselves. The group on this trip is truly amazing and I am so happy that I got to be a part of it! 
This trip has gone by so fast yet it feels so long. Today felt like it was two days long. As one of my friends told me, “everyday feels like a week and every week feels like a day”, I don’t think there is anything that could explain how this trip feels better than that! I can’t believe there is only one more day of safari, then three more days of work and we are on our way home. I am so happy that I got to experience this with such amazing people. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Gabby Levesque

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

This Is What Dreams Are Made Of

After what seems like countless mornings of waking up at 6 o clock to the sound of church bells, it was to my surprise that today Natalie was the one waking us up.
 “ They’re my friends I HAVE to wake them up!”.  Despite the rest of the groups hopes of less mouths to feed, thanks to Natalie, our sleepy room got to enjoy some delicious crepes (a nice change from toast and hard boiled eggs). With full bellies and smiles on our faces, we threw on our seven day old work clothes, yuck, and took the daladala’s off to work. The cloudy skies tried they’re hardest to rain but the drought allowed only a light sprinkle fall down.  We slipped into our usual work routine filling, shoveling, mixing and brick laying. Lunch rolled around and again triple decker PB&J and hard boiled eggs, on the brighter side we had apple juice and bananas. Its crazy the simple things that make you happy when you don’t have full availability. Mrs. Richardson, what a funny gal, told us that we’d have to work two hours later (even though we had an hour early start that day).  When our faces dropped and she was satisfied she announced that she was pulling our legs and we were off work right then and there.  We quickly headed home to get cleaned up for our trip into town, but the house was still out of water. The race was on.  Kids ran with buckets to outside taps to try and catch the last drops. Then as you can guess we all, (Kenya, Kaish, Natalie and I) shared the bucket of water to wash our hair and bodies.  Town was an adventure to say the least.  When we got off the daladala we were surrounded by mobile venders, one guy was extremely persistent and followed us all the way to the other end of town.  Towards the end however, our ears soon filled with the sound of elaborate gospel praise. With open arms we were welcomed to join an outside church service, which we did. We didn’t have to understand or even agree with the words to be moved by this emotional and spiritual experience.  On our way back we encountered another type of musical experience, one our ears were more accustomed too. We waved down a daladala for our travel back to base camp, and to our surprise this one was what we called “pimped out”.   The drivers excitedly blasted American Top 40 music, as were driving down the streets with the bass thumping and beats blaring.  The looks we got were mixed, some confused at the sight of a group of white kids singing and dancing in a daladala, while others were fascinated and joined in with our fun. When we arrived home we had ten minutes to scarf down suppber before departing for the movies. To our amazement the theater was higher class than what we were expecting.  We had a nice taste of home with buttery popcorn and a cold pop that was accompanied by a ton of laughs and a few tears.  After the movie we headed home, tired from another full but eventful day.  Even though lots had happened that day we knew what we were going to be dreaming about, the amazing events that were about to take place during the safari.

- Veronika Deleff