As some of our supporters and followers may know, our founder and executive director Felicia McKenzie will be returning to Tanzania this November for a two week stay. Felicia is very excited for this trip, so we thought we'd share a little bit of that excitement with you by having Felicia occasionally update everyone on her upcoming trip! Check out her first update below, and stay tuned for further details.
Wow! It’s hard to believe but it’s been 3 years since I returned from my first trip to Tanzania. So much has happened in that time that it’s gone so fast; but at the same time, it’s like a distant memory.
I've been waiting to make a return journey since before I left Tanzania. It was such an amazing and transformative trip, and has changed the lives of so many people.
I'm so happy to say I will be venturing back to Tanzania this November! My flight departs from Chicago on Wednesday, November 9; I arrive in Nairobi, Kenya early on Friday, November 11. From Nairobi, I will be taking a bus approximately 5 hours to the south, and depart right in the heart of Arusha! Grace will be meeting me at a hotel drop-off, and we'll head to the school to get me settled in.
I will be lodging at Saving Grace with Grace and her children for the duration of my stay. It is bound to be a much different sort of stay than my last trip, as I will be the only native-English speaker and the only American at the school! When I travelled to Tanzania in 2013, Nikki and I were lodged at a homestay with a local family and about 10 other female volunteers, all of whom were from the US, Canada, and Australia. Our host family was fairly well-off by Tanzanian standards, and we joked with the staff that we were staying in the mansion. It certainly looked like a mansion. The house was very modern and westernized, with running water, electricity, and an indoor toilet. My stay at Saving Grace, by contrast, will lack such amenities. The toilet is what’s known as a “squatter” because you quite literally need to squat over it. There is no running water at Saving Grace as of yet; all of the water is delivered by truck. Water is stored in a large drum, and accessed by a single spigot. Dining will be quite different as well. At our homestay in 2013, dinner was provided for us every night in a formal dining room, on a beautiful wooden table. We have yet to get a dining table at Saving Grace, so it’s likely I’ll take my meals on the floor!
Not that any of this is bad. Despite the very different experience I will have this time around, I’m quite looking forward to it. I think it’s important to understand exactly how our students and staff in Tanzania live day-to-day, and the only way to truly understand that is to experience it. My hope is that by living their lives, I can better appreciate the needs of our students and staff, and in turn, help to make the school even better.g will be quite different as well. At our homestay in 2013, dinner was provided for us every night in a formal dining room, on a beautiful wooden table. We have yet to get a dining table at Saving Grace, so it’s likely I’ll take my meals on the floor!
Of course, I can’t say that this is entirely a business trip. I’m really looking forward to seeing Grace again after all this time. When I left in 2013 she was pregnant with her second child, and gave birth to her just a few months later. Returning to Tanzania means I will finally meet her, and I’m so excited! Seeing pictures of her for the last 3 years makes me feel like I already know her, and I know our first meeting will make me love her even more. I’m also excited to see Grace’s first child, Chris, again. He was a bit shy when Nikki and I were first introduced to him, but he eventually warmed up to us and asked after us for the next year. Hopefully he remembers me as well as I remember him!
Looking ahead to this trip has made me realize just how little of the local culture I was really able to experience last time. In the meantime, I’ll be brushing up on my Swahili so I can really interact with the people I encounter this time around, and maybe, I’ll even make a new friend or two.