By Frances Hornbostel, III Form
Much More Than Building a Classroom in Tanzania
This summer I traveled to Tanzania for two weeks with a group of nineteen other students. We primarily went to build a classroom in the Orbomba community near Arusha, but many reasons motivated me to go. I love to experience different cultures, and the community we visited welcomed our group with open arms as well as fun dances and songs by this community. One of the highlights of my trip was befriending students at the school we helped build. They taught me songs in Swahili, and I taught them hand games from America. The trip also exposed me to different lifestyles. Many in America can be materialistic, wanting the new iPhone or piece of plastic that everyone else owns. The people I met in Tanzania were grateful for even just our presence and passion to help. They were grateful for every new word they learned and every scrap of food they ate.
We put ourselves in the shoes of local families and could start to understand their day-to-day challenges. One activity that we did with families was boma smearing. It involves smearing cow dung on a Maasai hut to repair the cracks. Although at first, this practice seemed strange to us, the local children did it with bare hands and were unfazed: it is a normal tradition in their lives.
Another day, two mamas in Tanzania led us on a water walk, where they walk to the nearest water source three times a day to access a very limited supply of unclean water. We carried forty pound jerry cans on our backs for about a mile which was only a
fraction of the distance mamas in Tanzania have to travel constantly. These families are only a few of the 663 million who don’t have access to clean water. The organization that facilitated my trip, WE, sell “rafiki” bracelets. “Rafiki” means friend in Swahili. These bracelets are handmade by mamas in Tanzania and create opportunity for them. The money raised is donated to expand access to clean water, food, education, and health resources. Though during this trip my group did not build a whole school, we helped improve a classroom with our own two hands, learned about very pressing issues in this world, and made special connections along the way.
Frances Hornbostel is a III Form boarding student from New York City. She sings, plays tennis, and loves to travel.