Monday, July 11, 2011

Goin on a short hike...

In 6 days I will begin my climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa and the 4th highest of the 7 summits! We will be summiting at Uhuru Peak which is the highest point on the mountain at 19,341 ft above sea level. Below is my rough schedule for the climb (if you don't really care about the schedule, skip to the last paragraph and read about the awesome service project we are doing post climb!). This description of the climb is, I confess, a cut and paste fron the Roadmonkey website.

Monday, July 18 through Thursday, July 21– Hiking Kilimanjaro
     "For four days, we trek over an ever-changing Kilimanjaro landscape, beginning in the lower-slope forests, then rain forest, emerging into a kind of high-desert moorland marked by shorter vegetation. By Day 2, we’re permanently above the cloud layer. At night, the starry sky is so clear you can see not only the Milky Way, thick as a vanilla shake spilled across an obsidian countertop, but also the holes in it that you probably didn’t realize were there.

  During Day 2 through Day 5 we’ll find our Kilimanjaro routine: wake early, eat a hearty egg/sausage breakfast with our woolies on, pack up and hit the uphill trail, lunch, and more hiking, with rest breaks and photo ops, and arrive, blissfully spent, at camp.

    Along the trail each day, we’ll see other groups of people, of course, from all over the  
world.  They do clog up the narrow passages and if the group is up for it, and our guide deems it safe, there may be a chance to break off from the other groups on Day 3, and take on the little-used Western Breach route.

Friday, July 22 – Kilimanjaro summit day
Friday is summit day, and also descent day. It puts a beating on the body, especially legs and knees. Not long after summiting, we begin our trek downhill, lunar-hopping through steep scree to make our way toward lower climates.  

     This is hands down the longest and most physically and mentally challenging day of the Kilimanjaro experience. We're proud of our 100% summit success rate: Since 2009, all 35 of the Tanzania roadmonkeys have reached Uhuru Peak. Some were fast, some were slow. But everyone, summoning great mental strength, eventually got there.

     We will then return to Moshi on Saturday, where hopefully a hot shower awaits (power permitting...keep your fingers crossed!). We will have a nice day off in Moshi on Sunday that I think will be much needed at that point. Monday we hop on a fight to Zanzibar; a collection of small islands with two larger islands between 16 and 31 miles off the coast of Tanzania. Once on Zanzibar we will begin out 4 day organic community garden building project!"  
     For next part of this odyssey the other Roadmonkeys and I will be working in the Bwejuu district, on the southeastern coast of Zanzibar. We will be building an income-producing, organic poultry farm, working alongside Bwejuu community members. After we finish on Zanzibar, I will fly back to Dar, hop on a bus and head down to Kyela and Tenende in Southern Tanzania...the place I have been missing for almost a year!
      At the moment we have not raised the amount of money we will need to complete the whole project on Zanzibar, and while unfortunate it appears that we will have to select which parts to do and which parts we cannot finish. Now I am going to shamelessly ask you for money! If you know me, then you won't be surprised...but I always do it for a great cause! I really want to be able to complete the entire project, so badly that I am willing to climb a mountain for it! (It sounds pretty impressive that way, if I may say so). Actually, what I am also going to do is donate an additional $200 of my savings to help see this project completed. The whole team, as well as the Bwejuu community would be so grateful if we were able to raise the remaining $1,800. If you can, please consider donating towards our project. You can donate however little or much you see fit and are able to, and please know that every dollar will count. To see a breakdown of the project goals and costs, just leave a comment and I will e-mail it to you. If you feel compelled to donate: you rock
        Go to and click the red 'donate now' button. 

Once at PVF/Donate page, locate the section "Designated Funds" - click the button for "Generosity in Action" - and in the text box just below specify "Roadmonkey, Bwejuu Project" and my name. 
Thank you!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Watoto Foundation

 It feels as if I arrived in Tanzania just a few days ago, yet somehow I have been here a month already! I am not quite sure how that is possible, but it leaves me wondering how quickly the remaining 4 months  will pass. This month has been anything but dull; I'll put up another post about everything I've done during my first month here sometime later this week....if the internet cooperates. Now though I want to introduce you to an organization I visited a few weeks ago on a field trip with my Swahili class.

Meet Oskar. He is almost 17 and currently lives at "Child in the Sky" which is part of the Watoto Foundation. A few years ago Oskar was living on the street, had some issues with drugs and had very little chance of a successful future. Currently he is studying welding, is drug free and has a much brighter future. 

Oskar and two of his roommates
The Watoto Foundation is an organization in Tanzania that focuses on taking homeless boys, living on the streets, and helping them create a sustainable lifestyle. This organization is targeting a group of boys who have no one looking out for them, and is showing positive results. They begin the relationship by talking to the boys and getting to know them. After that bond is formed, the boys are invited to live at the center in Arusha: Child in the Stars. First a boy spends 3 months here, proving that he is serious about wanting to make a significant lifestyle change. From Child in the Stars he will go to Child in the Sky, a vocational training center of sorts, outside of Arusha. Typically each boy spends 3 years at the Child in the Sky. 
Oskar's classroom 
They attend school in the morning, and learn vocational skills in the afternoon. For the first 13 months the boys rotate through a variety of skills, studying farming, carpentry, welding and masonry- to name a few. The next 13 months are spent mastering the skill they choose. Once training is complete, they begin to look for a job in Arusha. For the first 6 months on the job, they continue to live at Child in the Sky but they must pay rent, furnish their rooms and pay for their meals. After that six months, they begin their lives outside of Child in the Sky.
A boy studying masonry 
Many of the boys living here have some of the highest exam results in Tanzania, and one graduate of the foundation is currently in University and on track to become a doctor. The boys all speak almost flawless English- which sabotaged  Mama Gaude's instructions to my class  to "try and only speak Swahili!" (The result was I spoke to Oskar mainly in Swahili and him answered primarily in English. We both got to practice) Child in the Sky houses and trains about 50 boys at any given time. In addition to school and vocational classes, the boys are responsible for maintaining the gardens, cooking meals, taking care of the animals and an assortment of other maintenance tasks. This program is a great example of the kind of help Tanzania needs. By focusing on a specific population, using a structured format and having goals that are clearly delineated, Child in The Sky is a success.