Words by Jessica…
Our trip to Johannesburg was somewhat of a whirlwind, but it was well worth the few days we were able to spend there. Our first full day in Joburg was spent with four beautiful South African women who took us to a school. The humble school was the learning hub for many children in the surrounding shanty town. Though most of them were away due to school holiday, there were a few classrooms filled with kids ages 2-7. As we entered the classroom, the kids swarmed around us hugging our legs and putting there thumbs out as a gesture of “hello.” It was so touching to see their smiling faces as they played in the small yard just beyond the classroom. We were able to learn more about the school as we were given the tour. Three of the four women who guided us were from another branch of the organization called Orange Farm – where their goal is to empower women who are mothers of children with disabilities, and to create schools where the children can learn in a safe and welcoming environment. Each of the women told us their stories about the struggles they face due to a lack of education on disabilities, abandonment from the child’s father, and the fight to provide health care and education to their children. We were so thankful for them for sharing their touching and inspiring stories with us. Our experience with them is certainly one we will never forget.
We also had an opportunity to walk around the shanty town as we were escorted by the women and two high school boys. They said the shanty town had significantly improved as we would not have been able to walk around 10 years ago. Though we did not feel unsafe, we did feel like we stuck out quite obviously and it was a strange experience. In all, it was humbling to see so many smiling faces in the midst of such severe poverty in the shanty towns.
From the moment we stepped foot off the plane, we were warmly embraced by the people of Tanzania. Our safari guides were the first to welcome us to their beautiful country. From South Africa we traveled to Kenya and then to our safari starting point, the infamous Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
Though we spent most of our safari interacting with animals in the bush, the people we met along the way made impactful impressions on us. Throughout the safari we switched jeeps so we could meet different guides – all which were very knowledgeable and friendly. It was interesting to learn about them, their families and perspective on life in Tanzania. Through them we not only learned about the animals we were seeing, but about the culture of the people and the many tribes. In Tanzania the official language is Swahili and English, but each tribe has their own language.
We were fortunate to meet people of the Maasai tribe. We went to one of their villages near the Ngorongoro Crater. They are nomadic people who raise cattle and farm the land. We were welcomed to enter one of their huts made of cow dung, straw and wood where families share a very small space. The also welcomed us in a traditional dance, showed us the beautiful beadwork they do for a living and showed us how they live.
The Manyara Ranch School was another opportunity we had to meet some incredible people. A large group of children sang the Tanzania national anthem to us when we first arrived. It was such an amazing introduction.
On the road from one national park to the next we saw many smiling faces and children excitedly waving to us as we drove past. It was amazing to get a glimpse into their culture and their world – and it is something we appreciate and will always remember about our travels.
I hope you enjoy the view through Brian’s camera lens…
Tarangire National Park