Journal Entry Day 5:
“As I step off the bus into an unknown desolate, I feel warm hands of strangers start to grab onto me. Even though they don’t know us, bonds were formed instantly. Kids jump with joy as if they know something good is going to happen.” Even though languages are not universal, facial expressions are, whether it is happiness, surprise, or even fear. My experience in Tanzania was all about making an impact on the people we met. Going to Tanzania with my school on a Medlife ran expedition changed my life forever—this was my happy place. This is my passion.
As the abundance of dust picked up throughout the day, the dirt and grime on my body was endless. The stabbing sun dried the cakes of mud that had accumulated on my face instantly, but nobody cared. Kids of all ages gathered, McKenna and I started to sing English songs: Ring Around the Rosie; Itsy Bitsy Spider; Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. The dust whirled around us, just like our circle of kids, connecting us. After singing “Ring Around the Rosie” two times, I noticed that one girl, not knowing one word of English had memorized the entire song. She proceeded by singing with us and trying to teach the others around her. She even tried to teach us a song in Swahili, didn’t work out that well. Her name was Imani; she was only 10. In her underdeveloped village, you would be lucky to get up to an 8th grade education. Just like that, Imani was thrown in a tornado—lost in the rest of the group, not being able to appear. The cloudless sky turned into a cloudy future for all of these kids, especially Imani.
Kids would come and go all day, but Imani stayed. She had motioned with her skinny, sickly looking hands that she was going to go get something. Even though I couldn’t see where she was going or when she was coming back, I knew it must have been important. Through the numerous tumbleweeds and decaying plants, this cheerful little girl appeared with a single paper of satisfaction. As she proudly waved the paper in the scorching sun, this dusty piece of paper was one of her tests; she got an A.
The flies circled our filthy bodies, just as they circled the single water tank, in this seemingly barren desert. Just like all of us, the water was dirty—a mucky brown color. The only difference is that it is the sole source of water in this village and we weren’t aloud to drink it. As I would play with these kids for hours at a time, they would have nothing to eat or drink—malnutrition had swept through killing many in this village and others just like it. Periodically, kids would motion with their hands drinking water, knowing that we had clean water. With everything we could give them, the one thing they truly needed was unattainable. It broke my heart.
As the dust rolls on in Tanzania in Imani’s little village, I came home with a clarified vision of all the opportunities I am so grateful to have. Tanzania was my peaceful place. It has reminded me to be selfless and has opened my mind so when I have a cloudy day— I just remember Imani.
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