The Tanzania Trip
Over the half term holiday Miss Frances, Mr Watson and a group of intrepid students set off on Duke of Kent School’s first trip to Tanzania, in search of excitement, adventure and new experiences. During our time there we were hosted by our ex Deputy Head, Mr Hubbard, who is now Head Teacher of Morogoro International School, around 5 hours drive from Dar es Saalam. The 10 days that we spent in Morogoro passed in a blur of activity, excitement and colour, resulting in experiences that we will remember for a lifetime.
Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the trip was the time students spent working in MIS alongside their African peers. They attended GCSE lessons, took part in assemblies, had an impromptu African street dance lesson, enjoyed the school pool and joined in with the day to day of school life. They also helped Prep School students with their classwork; some read stories, others were coaxed into pretending to be crocodiles and elephants while one unlucky pair tackled some Year 6 geometry that even left Mr Watson stumped. They where they were a huge hit! Strong friendships were quickly formed and Instagram accounts were shared, while Mr Watson tried to encourage the more old fashioned pen and paper approach to staying in touch! I hope that these friendships will continue and strengthen into the future.
While visiting this beautiful country and spending time with its kind, gentle people, you can’t ignore the fact that Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. Close to 70% of Tanzanians live below the poverty line, girls education is woefully behind international standards and roughly 42% of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition. We visited a number of charities doing great work to support areas of the community, neglected due to a lack of money or public awareness. These included Neema Crafts (where we enjoyed a memorable chocolate cake) which is run by deaf and disabled Tanzanians, allowing them to support themselves; SEGA Girls School, which promotes girls long term education; and APOPO, who are training rats (yes rats!) to detect mines, many of which were planted on the Ugandan borger during the 1978-79 ‘Kajera War’.
We also worked with TEG, a grassroots youth charity from Morogoro who are trying to combat the mass deforestation of the local Uluguru Mountains. They treated us to a guided hike through the small farming villages that pepper the mountainside and then for a dip in the refreshingly cool Choma Waterfalls. With eagles circling overhead we worked with local villagers and subsistence farmers planting saplings in an attempt to claw back some of the rainforest that has given way to farmland over the last decade.
Many tourists make the long trip to Tanzania just to visit one of its world class national parks, so while here we took the opportunity to have a game drive. It was a long and dusty drive to Ruaha National Park, but we were rewarded for our efforts. Animal sightings began before we even arrived at our safari lodge and when the game drive began we saw more wildlife than I can list; impala, zebra, more elephants than we could count, warthogs, the shy and elusive dikdik, hippos, crocodiles, elegant giraffe and one not so lucky one, being feasted upon by a pride of lions! Something we witnessed from almost touching distance - unforgettable! All this in just two days as well as a list of wild birds as long as your arm. Tom S and Ben P will be able to tell you exactly which ones! We were kept safe in our luxury lodge by Maasai warriors who escorted us too and from our rooms to the pool, keeping the inquisitive elephants at bay.
There is a Tanzanian, Kiswahili proverb; ‘Atangaye na jua hujuwa’; he who wanders around by day a lot, learns a lot. I am confident that our ‘wanderings’ have taught us a great deal. Our students have returned a little taller, a little wiser and a little more adventurous. I hope they will carry the memories and friendships formed on this trip with them for some time. As their teachers we found them a delight to spend time with and really enjoyed seeing their excitement at each new experience. This was not an easy trip and they all demonstrated strength, determination and courage - all traits that the Maasai look for in their warriors. In addition they showed honesty, kindness, respect, responsibility and effort - the traits we seek to engender in our students.