My wife and I recently travelled to Tanzania for a 14 day long safari, on which we expected the highlight to be seeing zebras (for her) and cheetahs (for me). What we did not expect however was how a simple forethought and advice from Pack for a Purpose, could have such a wonderful impact on our experience in Tanzania.
My wife and I had both been looking forward tremendously to visiting Africa, as we had strong family connections to the continent, with her parents being born and raised in Uganda and my father being born in South Africa. As we planned the trip, focusing on which safari camps to stay at and how to move from one national park to another, we struggled with how to “connect” with the real citizens of Tanzania. Serendipitously my wife happened upon the Pack for a Purpose website linked to our guest house in Arusha (Onsea House). Immediately we took one of our old gym bags and filled it to the brim with school supplies and medical supplies (both my wife and I are in the health care field).
Once at Onsea House, we were greeted by three Belgian volunteers who were each completing a year volunteering at the local Barra school. And so it was on our second day in Africa, we spent the entire morning visiting with the amazing boys and girls of Barra school. We spent time meeting the teachers, we played soccer with the boys, we enjoyed tea made for the teachers, and we wandered from class to class seeing all the wonderful teaching that was happening. Most importantly we were very excited that what we had brought was exactly what was needed: pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, pencil crayons, first aid supplies and basic medicines.
It was actually kind of sad seeing computers and Harry Potter Books collecting dust in the library because they were too advanced for the school children. The very basic supplies we brought are vital for a public school like Barra to continue to deliver education to the children in its region. And it felt really good to participate in a program that so tangibly helped out the school. My wife and I were so touched by our experience that we have been in touch with the headmaster of the school since returning to Canada and we are exploring how we can continue to support the school and some of its students. So the next time you’re planning to travel, consider looking for a Pack for a Purpose opportunity, I guarantee it will make you feel more connected to your destination and enhance your experience.