Many islands are boring - barren land, rock-filled beaches, and no access to the internet. However, its National Travel and Tourism Week, and we wouldn’t want to disappoint you with one of those. Welcome to Mafia Island, one of Tanzania's best tourist hotspots. Boasting a rich history and culture, excellent marine activities, and beautiful scenery, Mafia Island has something for everyone, from history buffs to daring divers. Despite its enticing atmosphere, Mafia Island remains rather unknown, making it the perfect place to get away from the crowds that flock to many other Tanzanian locations to enjoy some quality quiet time. Although the name may be off-putting, rest assured, as the name “mafia” comes from an Arabic word meaning archipelago. With an area of 152 square miles, it may not be the biggest island, but it certainly has a lot to offer.
Photo Credit: David Bacon
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And when on an island, do as islanders do. As it turns out, Mafia Island earns most of its income through the sea, meaning that it is the perfect place for anyone wanting to get their feet wet. Instead of tagging along with a group of fisherman on a commercial fishing trip, plenty of opportunities exist for you to try your hand at deep sea sport fishing. Sailfish, marlin, barracuda, and yellowfin tuna, alongside many other large and powerful fish, lurk in the waters off the island, meaning that no matter what you catch, you will be sure to get your money’s worth. Fishing close to shore is forbidden, however, so be prepared to be out in international waters, away from any nearby shoreline. The best fishing season is from August to March, so plan accordingly.
For those not wishing to catch wildlife, charter boats around the island offer both whale and shark seeing charters, perfect for people wishing to stay dry. Coming up close to a whale shark is a humbling experience, for their size is unmatched by anything else on Earth. The captains of these boats are especially knowledgeable on these animals behaviors, an understanding that comes with years of practice. This skill makes for a high chance of finding these creatures, meaning your time won't be wasted. Shark-seeing cruises are also exciting; however, these are often accompanied by chum to draw them to the boat. If you are feeling adventurous that day, various businesses give you the chance to swim alongside whale sharks, providing a truly eye-opening experience. And, should that not be enough for you, time spent in a shark cage surrounded by feeding sharks is sure to get your heart racing.
Photo Credit: David Bacon
And finally, for those wishing to keep safe on land, Mafia Island offers plenty of attractions to keep you entertained. With a history dating back to the 8th century, Mafia Island contains plenty of centuries-old buildings and a culture to match, providing an exciting and hands-on history lesson. Its unique position as a trade outpost provided it with plenty of wealth which translated into infrastructure, some of which still stands to this day. Should history bore, you, the island's ecosystem is full of lush trees and exotic creatures, meaning that a day spent in the wild is sure to provide you with a fun-filled trip. While Mafia Island may be rather unknown to the global community, its charm, excitement, and relaxed atmosphere make it one of the best places to travel to while in Tanzania.
Photo 1: https://www.flickr.com/photos/88657298@N00/
Photo 2: https://www.flickr.com/photos/88657298@N00/
Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Tanzania, is well known across the globe for its accessibility and breathtaking views. A dormant volcano with 3 main peaks, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, Kilimanjaro sits on the North-Eastern edge of Tanzania, rising roughly 16,100 feet above sea level. Offering a noteworthy accomplishment for those who finish the climb, yet while at the same time being completable by those with little experience in climbing, Kilimanjaro is a must-see when visiting Tanzania. If you are looking for a mix of excitement, reward, and some exercise, Mount Kilimanjaro may just be your best bet.
Photo Credit: Elisa Taylor
Tourists from around the globe travel to Kilimanjaro not only for the climb, but for its scenery and many other activities. For those not wishing to put the time or effort into a full climb, guides around the base offer day-long hikes along the Shira plateau, providing an equally as exhilarating experience for a much lower cost. For those not interested in a hike, rivers and streams in and around Kilimanjaro offer excellent trout fishing, with local businesses offering to teach the skill to those without the knowhow. Given the fact that Kilimanjaro sits near the Serengeti, local safaris are always bound to be full of excitement, with companies offering quick drives to multi-day adventures. If you wish to get a hands-on look into the culture of Tanzania, various tour guides offer trips into the areas populated and used by the locals, providing an amazing insight into the cultures that make Tanzania special. And, of course, given its popularity as a tourist attraction, you will find many amenities to remind you of home should you be wanting to see the newest blockbuster film.
Of course, the main reason many visit Kilimanjaro is for its climb. With 7 different paths to the summit, the mountain offers easier paths for those with little experience, to more demanding and skilled treks for those who are up for the challenge. With upwards of 15,000 people a year of all skill levels that hike the mountain, Kilimanjaro offers a wide variety of assets for those in need. Surrounding the base are each of the amenities and services that guests may require. Porters, cooks, and guides can all be hired for extremely fair prices, covering all the aspects of the trek except for the trek itself. Due to the sloped shape of the mountain, no extreme measures are required to reach the peak, allowing for a climb much safer than other mountains of equal height. The peak offers amazing views of the surrounding areas, making for a great experience that you won’t be able to find at your local state park.
Next up on our list of Tanzanian travel spots is the Olduvai Gorge, located in the northern part of Tanzania near the Serengeti. Due to its unique fossil records, it is one of the most important anthropological sites on earth, helping scientists to better understand the history of early humans, both from how they looked to where they traveled. The gorge itself is roughly 30 miles long, a product of both volcanism and plate tectonics as well as weathering and erosion.  This process has taken millions of years, and it was worth it, for the gorge has much to offer from both a scientific standpoint as well as being a tourist destination. By visiting the Olduvai Gorge, not only will you be given a chance to set foot where our earliest ancestors once did, but you will be accompanied by a unique learning experience and an amazing array of wildlife.
Photo by Sherwood on Flickr
The Olduvai Gorge first came to prominence in 1911, when German Neurologist Wilhelm Kattwinkel first discovered the bones of a previously unknown and extinct horse. From there on out, it became a hotspot for research, with archaeological and geological teams visiting the locations ever since. It wasn’t until the mid-1900’s when the scientific discoveries really started to alter our perception of human history. Found within the gorge were ancient fossils and stone tools, some dating back to over 2.5 million years ago.  These discoveries nearly proved to the world that humans originated in Africa, settling a long debate. Although the average tourist is not allowed to hunt for fossils, the many sites surrounding the gorge provide an experience not found anywhere else in the world.
Museums around the gorge offer many educational exhibits, ranging from fossils and artifacts of early human ancestors to the skeletons of the animals who accompanied them. One of the best museum exhibits, found at the Olduvai Gorge Museum, is a cast of footprints made by early hominids, the most well-known being Lucy. These footprints were, amazingly, preserved in mud hardened by the sun roughly 3.6 million years ago. The museum also offers other notable finds, such as fossils, tools, and other finds related to early humans. For anyone interested in the history of early humans, the Olduvai Gorge is a must-visit destination.
The Olduvai Gorge is one of the most important locations in all of Africa simply due to its unique and vital presence of early human artifacts. However, that is not the only reason one should visit. The Gorge itself is not far from the Serengeti, meaning that the wildlife surrounding it is sure to be abundant and varied. So, whether you are looking to walk with our earliest ancestors or take a safari nearby, the Olduvai Gorge is definitely an African treasure worth visiting.
Established by congress in 1983, the National Travel and Tourism week aims to celebrate tourism within the United States. During this week, companies across the world conduct business with the united states, generating deals worth more than $4.7 billion with the United States. Of course, these countries host travel opportunities of their own, and Tanzania is no exception. Over the course of this week, we will highlight a variety of noteworthy and fun travel destinations found across Tanzania, starting today with the Serengeti.
Photo Credit: Madeline Gerlach
If you ever happen to be in Tanzania without any plans, the Serengeti always promises excitement and adventure. Located primarily in northern Tanzania, the Serengeti is one of the most diverse, well known, and amazing ecosystems on the planet, covering roughly 12,000 sq. miles. Home to an enormous variety of animal life, the Serengeti has been named one of the 10 Natural Wonders of the World for its unique and breathtaking ecosystem.  Seeing the Serengeti is an unforgettable experience for many reasons, and will always be a destination worth visiting.
The Serengeti is perhaps most well-known for its Great Migration. Every January, this annual cycle begins with over 2 million animals, including zebras, wildebeests, and gazelles starting their journey in the southern Serengeti. Following the availability of food, these animals make their way around the Serengeti, moving along the border in a clockwise position, with the annual migration beginning in the southern portion in February. The sheer number of animals involved makes it the largest land migration on the planet, meaning that no matter when you observe this event, you will be sure to observe the incredible power of nature. Along with the animals of the Great Migration, the Serengeti is home to a wide variety of animals, including predators such as lions, leopards, and hyenas alongside grazers such as gazelles, giraffes, and buffalo.
Photo Credit: Steph Walczak
The environment as well never fails to change, with large portions of the Serengeti being virtually unrecognizable from the next. Rather than just a flat landscape, altitudes in the Serengeti range from 3,000 feet to 6,070 feet above sea level , meaning that rock formations and large hills stand out in the horizon behind its open, grass filled plains. Along the southeastern and southwestern borders lie shrubbed forests, offering refuge for life not found elsewhere in the Serengeti. Perhaps the most notable feature among the landscape is the Ol Doinyo Lengai, the only active volcano in the region. The Ol Doinyo Lengai remains the only volcano that ejects a carbonatite lava, which turns white when exposed to the air. All in all, the Serengeti is not one giant, flat grassland, but a diverse and varied landscape offering much to explore.
So why should you visit the Serengeti? Its wildlife is so abundant and grand that it is the only location on Earth where you can a migration of its size. Depending on the amount of time you spend there, you are likely to see a large variety of animals, from the famous lions and elephants to lesser known elands and dik-diks. In your travels, you will encounter an ever-changing landscape, meaning every memory and photograph is unique. Should you get a chance, the Maasai Tribe, likely the most well-known inhabitants of the Serengeti, offer a culture that is sure to be an eye opener, whether it's a traditional song and dance or their generous hospitality. Should you get the opportunity, the Serengeti will offer an experience unlike anywhere else found on Earth.
Celebrated on April 23rd of every year, World Book and Copyright Day was started in 1995 by UNESCO and was chosen because it was on “this date in 1616 that Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died” . The goal of World Book Day is to focus on and inspire young people to read for pleasure and “gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity” .
Since 2000, UNESCO and other international collaborators have named a city to be the World Book Capital for one year, until the next April 23. The cities are chosen for their past work in promoting literacy and reading, as well as for their current and future commitment to providing literacy, education, and reading materials to all . This year, the World Book Capital is Conakry, Guinea, on the coast of West Africa. Will a city in East Africa or even Tanzania be next?
At Saving Grace, we celebrated World Book Day by promoting reading for fun to the students. Because we have been able to build and expand our library, the students have much more reading material than they used to. We are committed to continuing to provide free and educational reading materials that they can enjoy anytime. Check out some of the library pictures below!
 World Book and Copyright Day. UNESCO. https://www.un.org/en/events/bookday/.
 UNESCO World Book Capital. UNESCO. http://en.unesco.org/world-book-capital-city.
 All photographs copyright Felicia McKenzie. Used with permission.
Cinderella, dressed in yellow, went upstairs to kiss a fine fella… and so goes the rhyme chanted by schoolgirls with jump rope in hand. The rhymes may differ from one place to the next but the playground pastime, jump rope, is cross cultural.
In some African countries children play a game called stockings. It uses a girl’s stockings or perhaps a rope. The girls swing the rope first at the ankles, next at the knees and then slowly higher and higher. A jumper’s turn ends when the rope reaches the necks of the girls swinging or the jumper can jump no higher, whichever comes first. (4)
In addition to jump rope, children across Africa enjoy other games played the world over including hide-and-seek and leapfrog. Circle games are also popular as are games that employ singing and clapping.
On quiet days, it is common to find children playing mancala, a game that harkens back to ancient times in Africa. The game is played with a board carved out of ivory or wood or even temporarily drawn in the dirt. Mancala’s popularity has been exported; variations of it are now played in nearly every country around the globe. (3)
Unlike children in western countries, African children frequently use homemade toys in their play. For example, boys can be found playing with hoops from the rims of tires and girls with homemade dolls. (3) Children sometimes make their own balls too. Prior to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, photographer Jessica Hilltout documented Africans’ love for the game of football during a seven-month sojourn across the continent. A number of her photos pictured the homemade balls that many children in Africa make with items that they find - bark, rags, rope - and a bit of ingenuity. (1)
Football is probably the most popular sport among children in African countries. Others that they enjoy are basketball, volleyball, cricket, rugby and wrestling. (3)
Another activity that continues to grow in popularity with African kids is called capoeira. It is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music. Played in a circle, it teaches children about discipline, respect and working in groups. (3) Click on the following link to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlRfGGIbMcc
UNICEF cites sports and play as two important tools for promoting health and preventing disease. Early childhood, especially, is the most essential time for brain development according to researchers. Athletic activities aid communication, education, and social interaction. As UNICEF notes on their website: “Children around the world are naturally drawn to sport and play, and they can engage all children, even the poorest and most marginalized, to have fun and enjoy their childhood.” (2)
On Saturday, March 25th we hosted a Silent Auction Fundraiser in Greeley, Colorado with a wonderful selection of items and a great turnout. Jane Leuchter, our Research & Compliance Director, grew up in Greeley and worked with her mother Gin to organize the event.
Jane spoke on Pirate Radio 104.7 on Friday morning before the event, talking to the hosts of Greeley’s Morning Guys, Big Kahuna and George, about how Brighter Tanzania was formed, how she got involved, and details about when and where the event would be happening.
The John Mills Orchestra Octet, an eight-piece local jazz band, livened the place up by playing their wide range of jazz songs as attendees placed bids on the 80+ donations. Jane’s father Fred plays guitar regularly with the John Mills Orchestra, and said they enjoy getting together and jamming so they were happy to pitch in and play for the fundraiser.
Dozens of local businesses and artists donated items to the silent auction, ranging from hand-thrown pottery vases to Eagles hockey tickets to cat-themed gift baskets to beautiful watercolor paintings. There were also smaller items like Brighter Tanzania shirts available for immediate sale at a table that also held information about our students and sponsorship program.
The Greeley Tribune wrote an article about the event focusing on Jane's family and their local connections: Greeley family ties help in putting on fundraiser for school children in Tanzania. The piece features interviews with Jane and her parents, Fred and Gin.
We raised $2,648 total at the event. Thanks to everyone who came out and helped make this fundraiser a success!
On World Water Day, global activists ask us to think before we drink. What can you do?
Every March 22, World Water Day encourages us to think about how crucial clean drinking water is, and who doesn't have it.
Not all water is drinkable. Sea water must be desalinated before it's drinkable, and pollution has limited the fresh water that's drinkable. Climate change is also beginning to shift world water distribution, and some regions are gradually becoming more arid. It's estimated that 1 in 4 children in 2040 will live in areas with limited access to any water, never mind clean water.
At Saving Grace Day and Boarding School, we use water tanks to make sure our students have clean water to drink. This expense is provided for by donors, but some places aren't so fortunate.
Water is used for so much, not only is it vital for life, it's also the primary means of caring waste as sewage, it's used in mining and other industrial operations, and in agriculture, to name just a few functions. In developed countries, especially those with strict regulations, there's laws and infrastructure to limit pollution, and filter water. It's not perfect, but it does help protect people and the environment. In developing countries, there's often less infrastructure and less regulation. This means that somethings that are taken for granted in the US, or Europe, don't work as well in poorer nations like Bangladesh or Mozambique.
Sewage systems have especially had trouble translating. It's one thing to set up residential plumbing and install toilets, it's quite another to build waste treatment facilities and install enough plumbing and sewage systems to control the water in a whole city or even a whole region. It is much cheaper to channel waste to a nearby river and let the river carry the waste away. Yet those same rivers provide drinking and washing water, which encourages the spread of water-borne diseases. Fortunately there's a growing trend to find effective water-less toilets.
What can you do?
1. Conserve water.
I know, you've heard it a thousand times. That's because it's such a good idea. Water travels around the world, across oceans, and filtered through marshes and swamps to move through rivers and streams. It evaporates in one place and comes down as rain somewhere else. Water wasted in one place is water denied another place. Drinking water is especially precious, as there is far less drinkable water than there is polluted or salty water.
What are the simplest ways to conserve water?
a) Recycle. Water is a key component in mining, industrial and manufacturing processes. Even a plastic bottle represents a significant amount of resources. By recycling, some of those resources, including water, are conserved.
b) Don't waste food. Agriculture and livestock use up a LOT of water. That water is wasted when your scraps get tossed in the trash. There's a million creative ways to plan a head to that you get tasty, attractive leftovers. Here are 17 recipes to get you started.
c) Use less water. My favorite, put bricks or full bottles in your toilet tank to use less water when you flush. You'll never know it's there, and you'll save money.
2. Help organizations and companies that are helping water-stressed regions. Not wasting our own water is a great step, one everyone should consider taking. A fantastic second step is considering our global water crisis. There are hundreds of organizations that help different regions with water scarcity, water born despises, water infrastructure, and portable water solutions. I encourage everyone to do their own research, to find an organization they like best. Here are some well known organizations to get you started.
a) Charity Water
d) More great organizations.
3. Support clean energy alternatives. Pollution travels because water and air travel in a complex weather system around the globe. The carbon, methane, and other chemicals in our atmosphere are contributing to climate change, which is rapidly causing some regions of the world to become much more arid. When you support alternative energy sources, like wind, solar, and nuclear, you help reduce our dependence on coal and oil.
With so much of our focus and attention on economic growth and GDP performance, it can be easy to get caught up measuring progress in raw numbers. Sometimes it becomes so easy, in fact, that we lose sight of the mere thought of how happy we actually are. Increasingly, there is a push for an awareness of how happy we as humans actually are, and that how happy we are should also be a measurement of how much we have progressed as a civilization.
In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples.” All 193 United Nations member states have adopted the resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority. As such, it was decreed that the International Day of Happiness would be observed every year on March 20th. This holiday was celebrated for the first time in 2013, and we continue to observe it today. Be happy, be healthy, and never lose sight of the pursuit of happiness!
Tell us a little bit about who you are.
My name is Elise McKenney. I live alone with my dog. My husband passed away several years ago, and my daughter lives with her boyfriend. I previously had my goddaughter live with me for a short time, and another young girl lived with me for a while as well. I was in a foster home as a child, and I have always loved kids!
Who do you sponsor, and what can you tell us about them?
I sponsor a female named Dorcas Lazaro, who is seven years old.
She likes to take care of the younger children, she wants to be a doctor or a teacher when she grows up, she takes her learning lessons seriously, and I know that her favorite color is yellow. She enjoys going to school and she likes learning.
How long have you been sponsoring?
I dunno! Like what, three months? Yeah, it’s been three months.
What were some of the factors that influenced you to become a sponsor?
My work has a week of--a week where they try to get everybody to participate in helping nonprofits. I’m a volunteer for a dog rescue nonprofit, and so I was looking for something else to be a part of. And then after reading some of the stuff about the Brighter Tanzania Foundation I thought it might be a good fit so I talked to my sisters. We were thinking about going in together, and then I thought that there were more people in my family that would like to sponsor but don’t have enough enough money to sponsor themselves. So I opened it up to everyone in my family and I was really proud of the children in my family who were willing to help out another child.
They were not aware that other kids were not able to just go to school like they were here and they were all very excited to just pitch in and help her!
How was the process of becoming a sponsor?
I was so excited! The actual application process was very simple, and it didn’t take very long. I received emails providing information on the child I and my family were sponsoring along with some picture and it was so very heartwarming! It was such a good feeling when I saw her picture; I just wanted to give her a hug!
How has your sponsorship affected you and your family?
For me it has been really heart warming and it just felt so dang good! Some of the others and I did a little shopping and went and bought her just a few little inexpensive things to send and all of the kids wrote letters to her just to tell her a little bit about themselves. The adults wrote letters and provided some pictures.
I think it’s been rewarding so far, it just takes a long time for the mail to get there but we’re hoping hear from her again soon!
Would you say sponsorship has changed your outlook on life?
I think yeah, to the point where it really makes us grateful for what we have and I think to really think about what it would be like to live in another country. There are so many things we take for granted is the whole thing, and it makes us more grateful for what we have.
What would you tell other people who were considering sponsoring a student?
It’s very rewarding and as far as the financial the stuff I checked out--as far as the financials, all of the information is available for people so you know exactly where the money is going. Just a very, very rewarding and nice experience.
So you would tell them to go for it?
Oh, absolutely! Just do it!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
The thing for me is just that it’s a very rewarding experience to know that our money - even though it’s not lot - is able to give an education to a child who might not otherwise have access and it’s a very good feeling. You know, there are other things we can all spend our money on but this just so rewarding. It’s an awesome experience for the kids to be a part of, too. And my family is very close so this is just one more thing we can experience in life together.
Brighter Tanzania Foundation is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization. Donations may be tax-deductible.
Phone: (608) 886-9160
8383 Greenway Blvd PMB 633
Middleton, WI 53562