Our group of 6 did a 5-week stint with MAD in Moshi, Tanzania. We helped start the library building at Royal School in Himo and taught arts classes (singing, drawing, acting, dancing), spent time at Kilimanjaro Kids Care (who all attended Royal School) and at the local YWCA with at-risk youth, mostly goofing around and learning traditional dances. We also went on safari and to the beach as part of our program (MAD collaborates with local tourism businesses to organize these vacations).
The thing I liked most about volunteering with MAD is how down-to-earth everyone and everything is. You really see the difference you are making because they work on a grass-roots level. They stay focused on what works and always work to improve it. They grow when they know they can achieve their desired result.
The biggest difficulty for us was personality clashes and culture shock. Being really close to poverty and bare minimum conditions can be extremely difficult for people, and being around the same 7 people for 5 weeks can add to the stress. But we made it through because everyone stayed focused on Making a Difference.
I have spent much of my life volunteering for various programs, including the Peace Corps in Thailand. However, I appreciated so much my time in Tanzania that I have revisited the Kilimanjaro Kids orphanage again, two years after I first volunteered. What I most treasure about Make a Difference Now is that I really spent time with the kids, reading , sewing, playing and even making jewelry, and to become close to the 22 children. Several of them are now thriving on the secondary school level. Their family has become the orphanage in Himo. Spending time there was not only a direct and personal way to help devastated children but also to learn first hand about the culture and workings of life in this part of Africa. Volunteers usually stay in a well-appointed guest house or with a family nearby, and one can even choose to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro! I highly recommend this program, and you can also travel before or after to safari or visit, as I did, the gorillas in Rwanda.
I really enJoyed this program. I wanted to go where I could grow and give. Make a Difference was perfect. Love the folk who work here, and of course the children are amazing. I want to return and climb Mt
Kilimanjaro w/ MAD!!
2 week Kilimanjaro summit and classroom construction project
Mar 23, 2012
We had a great time with MAD! The hike was awesome, 9 of 11 summited! We loved working with the Royal school building a classroom for them during our second week in memory of a dear friend! Planning on going back to summit again and see the finished science classroom and maybe build a library!!
Definitely reccommend MAD for your authentic Tanzanian experience!
I was seeking a volunteer experience that blended helping and teaching Tanzanian children and learning about the culture and land near Mt. Kilimanjaro. I connected with the MAD-Now director, Theresa Grant, and sensed her personal commitment to her mission, the orphanage and MAD's other projects in Himo, Tanzania. MAD-Now is also involved with AID's awareness, Malaria Preventative work, and other projects to benefit the community. I spent 6 weeks with Theresa in Himo. During that time I climbed Kilimanjaro and also went to the Serengeti on a safari. I lived in Himo in a safe and comfortable guest house. We went to the local market to purchase food and made our own meals at home. I traveled daily with Theresa to visit the private school where the 22 orphan children are sent to school. For 2 weeks I worked designing a computer lab which recently received a gift of 20 computers for the children. After school we visited them at their Kid's Home to help with homework, play games and interact with the kids. One of the highlights was training for and running the Kilimanjaro Half Marathon with Theresa which was held in Himo. We trained running in the early morning on backroads at the base of the mountain...how cool is that? My departure date came too soon and I long to return. I continue to hear from the children in letters and often send them gifts. It's a hands-on program. You are connected directly to the children. You are immersed in the local culture and you have free time to climb the tallest mountain on the continent....or just hike the hills. Either way you grow spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. So go GROW with MAD-Now !
Why did you decide to volunteer with MAD in Tanzania?
I wanted to make a mission trip and combine it with a destination that was on my ‘Bucket List’…Africa and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. I learned about Make a Difference – Africa from a friend who volunteered with MAD the previous summer. She spoke so highly about MAD and Director Theresa Grant, that I decided to check it out. Web information and personal correspondence with Theresa determined that this was the program for me. I designated 6 weeks for the trip.
The first week was the trek and climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro. During the following 5 weeks, I also took a 5-day safari to the Serengeti region. MAD encourages safaris and tours in the area and works with local adventure companies for good prices. The day to day volunteer work with MAD was hands-on and very fulfilling.
I am a 56 yr old, mother of three college-age boys. They were all away at school for the 6 weeks of winter when I traveled to Africa. I decided to go at that time in my life because I was finished with ’mothering my sons’ and wanted to venture out and do something that I longed to do. It’s a GREAT time of life to go on a mission-vacation. I had climbed and hiked mountains all over the world and wanted to climb Kilimanjaro. I hiked to the summit in 7 days with a trekking group of 4 people. It was a life-time goal, and I was thrilled to accomplish it.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
I lived with and shadowed the Director of MAD, Theresa Grant, everywhere. I came in the middle of winter when there are no other volunteers so I was fortunate to stay with Theresa. During summer months the volunteers stay together in a local guest house.
A typical day would be breakfast (usually granola and fruit) and we would drive around town on errands that supported the orphanage children. We would pack lunch and water with us for the day. The children were in a local private school. We would arrive at school around 1:00 pm and work with the students in the new computer lab until 4:00. MAD had recently donated computers and built a computer lab for the entire school to use.
I would have a 30 min. Swahili lesson every day from one of the teachers. I loved learning Swahili. After 4:00 pm we would follow the 22 (MAD orphan) children home to their house and be available to them for a variety of tasks from helping with homework, to playing games, to singing, making jewelry (their profit program) to just sitting and holding a hand. We would leave the house just as the children would be served dinner. We went home to our guest house for dinner. Theresa has a cook and housekeeper who helps with meals and laundry for the volunteers.
On weekends or holidays, we did special trips with the children to local parks, hiking, athletic events, or clinic visits.
Theresa would also arrange for visits with local agencies for the volunteers to learn about AIDS, Malaria, hospital work, infant orphanages and visits to other NGO work sites. She has numerous contacts in the area and they always enjoy an extra person around to help for a day’s visit. Whatever a volunteer expresses an interest in, Theresa will connect you with local people in that field.
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What made this volunteer experience unique and special?
What makes MAD special is the personal hands-on work with the children and the compassionate touch of Theresa Grant. As a volunteer you have time to discover the local culture, learn Swahili, take a few local adventure tours and interact closely with Tanzanian children. You truly get a sense that you are ‘making a difference’ in their lives. It is immersion in the local culture. Theresa has been living there for 10 years and knows the area and people well.
How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?
I speak often of the wonderful experience in Tanzania and have influenced several friends to venture to Africa with MAD. Personally, I am more in touch with the plight of the African orphan, malaria, AIDS in Africa, and other NGO projects. I work locally marketing MAD to college students to influence them to volunteer with MAD. I feel so strongly about this great program that I want others to experience it too.
And never forget that MAD operates in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro and you can arrange a climb while you are there and stand at the Top of Africa!