A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: TravellingLight

LESSONS FROM THE WILDS OF AFRICA...

Every creature has it’s story to tell..

You can’t help wonder what happened to the human race when you spend some time in the natural habitat of so much wildlife and learn about the way they all know their position in the world and just get on with it without fuss and bother..

The trip from Arusha to the new luxury camp (and we MEAN luxury) in the Eastern Serengeti NP is about 9 hours if you don’t stop for a breather on the way. We took off in the safari vehicle which looked more like a sardine can last Friday after Rami had finished school. The count was eight humans, about 50 cushions, several boxes of alcohol, 8 handmade wooden trays, an umbrella stand, luggage for each of us and, of course, some snacks for the 3 hour journey to a beautiful haven in the hills called Plantation Lodge. Stunning!
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Saturday, we drove the rest of the way over the dustiest, bumpiest track in the world. We were so well packed in though that we hardly noticed the ‘African Massage’ but we did notice the dust!! The Maasai folk and the wildlife along the way kept us all awake! It was so worth it to arrive at Ehlane Plains Luxury Camp. What an incredible job the team had done in less than 4 weeks: wooden floors, plush furnishings, solar lights and hot running water, white sheets and towels, fantastic a la carte meals in the dining room and even ice for our drinks... a miracle and a lasting tribute to Donna’s dear Nas whose dream this was.
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After a few days of being totally spoilt, we farewelled Donna and family who had to return to Arusha for business. The staff at Ehlane Plains made us all cry as they farewelled us with a traditional song and dance... we even had some acrobatics! We headed over to another one of Donna’s permanent camps in the centre of the Serengeti called Naona Moru. We had the BEST two young guides to drive us, Henry and Frank. What great blokes.. nothing was too much for them.. we stopped for every bird and moving thing we saw.. Hakuna Matata! The staff were exceptional at the camp.. there were only 4 guests so we were indulged! Jen got to work and taught the Chef and the Manager very well while I relaxed and thought positive thoughts,, it worked! They get the new online program.. hooray!!
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Next stop: Kaskaz Camp in the far north of the Serengeti. We drove for 8 hours at incredible speeds over a rough, rutty road to get to this haven in lush, green pastures where every creature has enough feed for years to come... Was it worth the dust, the bone adjustments, the wind burn? Every bit of it.. Kaskaz Camp has the best outlook of any of the camp we saw this trip...a buffalo herd grazing, topis looking lost, impala chasing themselves, zebra being cool.. what a place to call home for a couple of nights! Jen got to work again and taught the program to the Chef and the manager.. they learnt quickly and the internet behaved.. bonus!! We were joined on our second day there by four highly regarded South African Travel Journalists who were invited by the company to critique tha Nasikia camps and to hear the story behind Maasai Wanderings and Nasikia Camps... especially Ehlane.. but they started at Kaskaz.. They were great company and we loved the insight they shared about the life they are priviged to lead...
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We are delighted to be roaming the Serengeti Plains again after nearly four years. We are always intrigued by the stories our guides tell us about the inate behaviours of these abundant African animals.

Here’s some Wildlife Wisdom

Simba: The Lion: Patience, patience then Grab the Opportunity
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Twiga: The Giraffe: (my favourite of all these wonderful creatures): Reach for the highest branches and don’t let the prickles get you down
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Pundamelia :The Zebra: Always watch your mates’ back and be yourself (Not one other is like you!)
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Kiboko: The Hippo: Stay cool even if it means covering yourself in mud to achieve it!
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Tempo: The Elephant: Don’t let weight or size stop you achieving your goals: just go for it! (Elephants travel for kilometres every day to find the right grasses and they eat 300 kgs per day... not recommended!)
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Fisi: Hyena: Everyone is beautiful in their own way (Hyenas clean up after every kill.. not necessarily recommended!)
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Paa: Impala If someone is willing to scratch your back, return the favour (Impalas have teeth like a comb and they tidy each other up.. not necessarily recommended, especially with your teeth!)

Ndebele: All God’s collection of Birds: Sing joyfully all day, then give everyone a rest including yourself!
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Next Stop: Zanzibar but first a ‘light’ thought,,

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We saw this rainbow as we flew back to Arusha yesterday over the mountain range that took Nas, Shatri and Star’s lives. It was a moving reminder that God’s love will always shine through, His covenant of favour is eternal!

I have placed a rainbow in the clouds to remind you of my everlasting covenant (relationship) of love towards you.. Genesis 9:

Timely!!!

Posted by TravellingLight 10:40 Comments (9)

LIGHT! GLORIOUS LIGHT!

Shining times...

sunny 33 °C

Most of you will be following our progress here in Tanzania through our Mealtime for Maasai Students newsletters and Facebook page but here are a couple of snippets of life which truly warmed our hearts..

Mama Basket and the Christian Gathering..

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Mama Basket is a legend with the family here. You ask Mama Basket for a basket or baskets to be made to a certain specification and they’re done! She turned up the other day with 20 beautifully made rubbish baskets and 18 have gone out to the new camp (Ehlane Plains). Two were given to Jen & I... such generousity from people who have so little. She invited us to her church last Sunday so Janet, Jen and I trotted off not quite knowing where we were going. Mama Basket’s son, Joseph, works for Donna so he knew where to take us. This devout group of about 30 gather in a classroom in a small, shabby Nursery School. They had never had mzungus (white folk) visit before. They were beside themselves with excitement and one of the men even translated the whole service for us... the singing was spine tingling.. the choir consisted of most of the congregation.. the children just stared at us!! We felt blessed and humbled to share these beautiful people’s worship with them.

Asante Sisters... letting their lights shine brightly..

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Two doors down from Donna’s live the Arante Sisters. To step through the gate into their compound is like stepping into a self-sufficient, self-sustaining haven of peace and joy. These twelve nuns are from all over Africa but their Order’s home base is France. It seems their creed is to make everything, use everything and sell the leftovers... they have six milking cows.. hence milk and yoghurt.. they have chickens to grow and give ’the chop’ to for eating and selling as well as laying ones.. they have the healthiest veggies, fruit trees and herbs we have ever seen. They have cow-poo propelled bio-gas for cooking and lighting (Jen and Bob were fascinated with the simple system) and a huge solar hot water system... impressive! Eisha keeps wanting to go to visit to cuddle the fast-growing chickens and Sister Mary-Janet (who took us to her church a couple of weeks ago) is always delighted to see us even though she speaks little English.. we are not sure what else they actually do with their lives.. a couple teach but most seem to keep the home fires burning and spend time in contemplation and prayer... inspiring in so many ways!!

Esilalei Nursery School get their gas burner.. and it’s a big hit!!

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We are thrilled that part of our aim with ‘Mealtime for Maasai Students’ has been realised with the instalment of the gas burner and gas bottles. This is very modern technology for the Maasai people who have cooked over a fire in their Bomas for centuries. Cooking for two-hundred Students means a lot of sticks. Mr Leapaa, who has been asking the children to bring a stick to school every day to keep up the supply, is overjoyed that the pressure is off and Theresa, the Cook, could not be happier... the meals program will thrive with the porridge being cooked much faster. Theresa also grinds the maize each day which takes some doing.

Our second visit to Esilalei was huge..

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Simon, our guide from 2014 safari drove us out to Esilalei for our second visit. We wanted to check that all was well with the gas stove as well as do a few more things for these authentic, grateful people. Simon found a place in Arusha where could buy the type of plants that will grow in that dry, windy environment. We bought ten. Leapaa had a tribe of teenagers ready to dig the holes and it was done in no time. We’ll see how they are progressing when we come on safari next April and buy more if they are doing well.
Theresa, the cook proudly took us into her kitchen to show us that all the sticks had disappeared and the gas burner was in full operation. We were nearly as thrilled as she was that her job has been made so mush easier: no wind, rain, dust issues and no having to ask the little children to haul a stick to school. It’s the ONLY gas burner in the whole district.. very flash!!
Serving the dear little hungry children their ‘porridge’ was deeply moving. They waited SO obedientlY and patiently in their little donated chairs and had the runny stuff in huge cups down quicker than I can drink.. that’s fast! We are hoping to provide bananas every Friday as well.
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Our next task was not so fun.. we got into Mr Leapaa’s Storeroom. It was a mess with donated stuff everywhere. We started to fill the empty cupboard with sets of books, chalk, pencils,etc when one of the boys said.. we don’t use the cupboard because we have RATS.. rat bait is on the list for next visit.
We found heaps of skipping ropes and balls that people had donated. Leapaa and his fellow teacher Saitoti had NO idea how to use one so we played with them. We also showed them how to play cricket. soccer is the only game they seem to know.. many village elders had gathered for yet another meeting so they got a laugh as well.. we also stuck up posters... how long they last is questionable.. there is no glass in the windows so the wind, rain, dust blows from one side to the other.
By our next visit before we go home, we hope to have a couple more water tanks installed.. then Esilalei will hopefully have enough water stored to make it through the dry season without having to buy precious water.. we’ll see!!
It was a very good day..

At home

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We are fitting into the rhythm of life with Donna and family. We have a perfect view of the second highest mountain in Tanzania, Mt Meru.. when the MBC and MBBC students come over in June, they will climb this imposing mountain.. we’ve Seen snow on it since we have been a here. Souamu helps out in the kitchen each day. She was Eisha’s Dada (sister) or nanny before she went to school and they have a lovely relationship.
Jen does a tiny bit of the cooking! Her ‘forte’ is training the three German Shepherds! Not an easy task!
We have a tiny little Tuckshop up the road that sells EVERYTHING... even alcohol. Eisha loves to come with us to buy bread and exchange empties for full bottles (of soft drink, of course!!)

Being Light....

We originally named this Travel Blog “Travelling Light” for two reasons. We failed miserably this trip with one of our aims: Take as little as possible and have less than 12 kgs bag weight. We loaded up this time, not with our own stuff but with masses of caps, cloth bags, toys, gifts, etc for the kids at Esilalei. We are now lighter since we handed them all out to a very happy collection of children, teenagers and elders. They all love caps and carry bags. Thanks to Janet D for the caps and to Bev Ferrier for the bags.
Our other reason for focusing on “Travelling Light” was to attempt at all times to ‘see the light’, to ‘share the light’ and in some ways to ‘be the reflected light’. So here’s a deep thought..

You cannot not be in the presence of God. There’s no other place to be. It is we who are not present to Presence. We’ll make any excuse to be somewhere else than right here. Right here, right now never seems enough. It actually is, but it is we who are not aware enough yet.

We are off to the Serengeti on Friday... can’t wait to wonder at the unique experience that this ‘endless plains’ provides... Jen will be training the Chefs in the online program she has set up and I will just wonder...
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Posted by TravellingLight 07:39 Archived in Tanzania Comments (7)

FASCINATION and a bit of ACCELERATION!

Week 2: Life has it’s moments..

sunny 34 °C

PREPARATION

Sitting down to write is a rare privilege as we have been pretty full-on this week and have found our place in the household. Jen is supporting Donna by doing some computer stuff for her as well as chasing up more details for The ChefSheet program she wants to get off the ground. I have found myself taking on the Chef duties more and more to give Janet a break from cooking for anything up to and above eleven hungry folk. There’s always SO much happening.. making boxes from recycled timber for the new Ehlane Plains Camp has been a favourite as well as playing with Eisha when she gets home from school. The quantity of gear that is needed to establish this new camp has been phenomenal: there’s no corner shop out there in the middle of the Serengeti to buy toilet paper, pegs or even an ice cream! The last of the gear was packed up from here at Donna’s last night and all the sheets, blankets, pillows, paintings, glasses, pots, mats, hot water bottles (get the picture?) are on their way.. an eight-hour trip over the roughest road imaginable!!
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Here’s a few snippets to put you in the picture..

INSPIRATION

  • Donna I don’t think there are enough superlatives available in my repertoire to describe this girl. She has always been an inspiration to anyone who knows her and her work. But, to see how she is handling the loss of Nas with such grace and the company with such focus and determination as well as the day-to-day family life with such loving attention, is deeply moving. We feel honoured to just be here to possibly take some of the load off... Rami and Eisha are remarkable children with so much spunk and character. They will be a lasting legacy of the man that Nas was..

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Janet and Bob Duggan Grammy and Babu have immense energy and strength and they put in 150% every day to ensure that Rami, Eisha and Donna are surrounded by their love and protection. There is NOTHING that these two will not do for this little family..
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Sister Mary-Janet This quaint, little lady from the Congo came to Arusha a couple of years ago as a Missionary. She and the other Orrente Sisters live two doors down from Donna and she was one of the first to knock on the door with her love, sympathy and prayers when word was out that Nas had died so tragically. She drops in now and then and offered to escort us to church last Sunday. Janet, Jen & I met her at our gate and started to walk. She looked a bit shocked that there was no car but she speaks no English and we speak 13 words of Swahili. Little did we realise the church was miles away. We soldiered on until a nice bloke picked us up and delivered us near enough to get there on time. We felt blessed to be escorted by an angel on earth.
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DEDICATION

MaryAnne Smith and A is for Africa You meet some special people in your day and we met one of them the other day at Mr Lango’s School in the dusty valley of Matim. Rick & MaryAnne’s daughter, Molly went back to the US a few years ago after a safari with Donna. She told her parents and family about the needs of the Maasai children in the Matim area and ‘A is for Africa’ was established. They not only supply nutritious meals to the 1200 students at the school every day but they also have supplied books and furnishings for a library. There are NO libraries in State Schools in Tanzania. The kids are having to learn what it means to have a library and to have books to look at just for fun and to stimulate stories in their minds.
MaryAnne brings family and friends for 3 weeks in January and Rick does the same in September each year. That’s dedication!!
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ACCELERATION

Mealtime for Maasai Students Things happen at a different pace in Africa and we are just beginning to get in the rhythm! Lots of things have happened even though we are yet to make it out to the little nursery school itself. The two major issues for us has been: water and fuel.
Fresh water is over 5 kms away and the women and children spend their lives carting water on their heads. Enter the Hippo Roller! We have ordered ten of these wonderful inventions and hope to take delivery in early February. This will mean 90 litres of water rolled along with little effort instead of, maybe 15 litres on their weary heads.
The Tanzanian Government is encouraging the use of propane gas and we are assured that it is not going to ‘break the bank’! Until now, only an open fire has been used so we are going to trial a huge gas cooker and a 40 kg bottle of gas to see how long it lasts. Matim are still using wood but we think that the way forward should be something that is a plentiful local resource and environmentally responsible.. so we’ll see!
We have found that beans take over 6 hours to cook (a lot of gas) so we have decided to go with the ‘porridge’ idea that Donna has already established and build on that. Ground maize, milk, water, oil and a little sugar is the staple. We are looking at possible crushed nuts to increase the protein. Another addition will be provision of a banana for each child every Friday.. it makes us feel awfully spoilt and embarrassed when we think of the food we waste that these children could thrive on. We met a man last night called Kalunga who is from Esilalei and a guard at Donna’s garage who is very excited and thankful for what we are hoping to achieve in his community.. heart-warming!g Mr Leapa today and told him about the gas burner and his joy was overwhelming because the kids have been having to bring sticks to school for the fire and the sticks are getting shorter and shorter!
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EXASPERATION

Swahili is not that hard to learn! We are failing to get a grip of the official Tanzanian language and it’s getting embarrassing! I am up to thirteen words now but get confused when to use them so people are told to have a good night’s sleep in the morning and being told No Thank You when I mean How are You... Pole Pole!!
TIA Now if you have been to anywhere in Africa you would have heard the term, TIA!! One of Donna’s colleagues from South Africa (Johann) called it TAB and you JUST HAVE TO GET USED TO IT😁😁.. I have decided that Australians are driven people (not so much our darling Daph).. or at least I am.. I have a Diary (electronic of course) and I fill it in for weeks ahead and I expect it all to happen just like my diary says it should. Not so in Africa.. you have to live here for a while to adjust and we are just beginning to get our heads around it. It happens when it happens or not.. THIS IS AFRICA.. or THAT’S AFRICA BABY!! It’s harder than you think to just CHILL and let it work itself out.. Pole Pole..
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PERSPIRATION

Becoming Master Fundis Now here’s where we are proud to say, we have joined the work force of Tanzania. Donna has suggested Babu and his apprentice Fundis (tradesmen) make some recycled timber boxes for various gorgeous things out at the New camp. Well, we are all into it. There’s a rubbish timber heap at the Maasai Wanderings Garage, we raided it then brought back an impressive pile of junk. The results will astound you. Janet is the Interior Design expert, Babu is the Head Fundi, Jen, Eisha and I are the apprentices... take a look the results!!
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Forget the washing machine Electric washing machines are fairly rare here it seems. Human washing machines are more common so Jen & I are wishy-washing just about every day to keep up. The climate here is quite surprising. We are close to the equator but high up (1500mts) with low humidity.. nothing like the horrible weather in Brisbane at the moment. We are doing a lot of physical work though so our clothes get rather stinky (as if you needed to know that!) Jen & I were rather dreading the thought of not having our beloved air conditioning to get us through the nights... another surprise, we haven’t needed either fans nor air conditioning.

CELEBRATION

Yep! We celebrated Australia Day almost as loud and proud as you lot back in our fair land. Eisha made green and gold bangles and we produced Prawns on the Barbie (no such thing as a Weber here), lamb chops and mashed spuds with dessert of a fruit salad.. it was a fun night remembering how blessed we are to ‘call Australia home’!
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CONTEMPLATION

We are so caught up in the events of the days here that we sometimes forget just to take a deep breath, pause and be thankful to our loving God for His guidance, peace and faithfulness. We are off to Mama Basket’s Pentecostal Church this morning. Should be a rocking time with the glorious African rhythm... then it’s back to the sanding and building of boxes..

Posted by TravellingLight 22:18 Archived in Tanzania Comments (10)

Another life..

Week 1: Adjusting

storm 28 °C

Traveller’s Delight

Imagine a long haul flight where you are served Moët, a la carte meals and sleep flat on a comfortable bed. That was our delightful experience from Brisbane to Dubai as we set off on our six week adventure. Forty-eight hours before we flew out, we were offered Business Class at at hugely reduced price so we decided to treat ourselves.. highly recommended!! The rest of the long flight was not quite so delightful (commonly called ‘cattle class’).. but we arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport safely. Our bags landed on the same plane as we were on.. quite a miracle! We must have looked a bit shadey because our bags were checked.. they didn’t seem to mind us carrying 80 caps, 60 fabric shoulder bags, assorted dolls, toy cars and other random stuff for the kids at Esilalae but they were very suspicious about the four shop-packaged white school shirts for Rami... maybe they thought we were going to start up a rival clothing store somewhere😉
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Sights, Sounds, Smells...

Stepping off the plane after flying past the highest mountain in Africa (Kilimanjaro) and walkinga into life in Arusha is a sensory explosion. The sights, sounds and smells are so different from the world we usually experience. It was sunset as we drove with Richard (one of Donna’s Driver/Guides) into town. The Maasai were out herding their scattered goats and skinny cattle along the verges. The local women were trying to sell their charred corn cobs, the men were gathered around watching the world go by. Walking, sitting, washing, collecting: I guess you’d call the visual effect: populated! The traffic was hectic. Road rules are loosely adhered to so to see a motor bike (of which there are thousands) carrying four people, a few dozen buckets or an entire piece of furniture is not an unusual sight!
The cacophony of sounds buzzed in our ears: mainly horns and vehicles with no exhaust pipes! We had to keep rolling up our windows as we drove to avoid a face full of stinking exhaust smoke... ah.. there is a common saying for those of us who need to adjust to a different way of life: TIA!
THIS IS AFRICA! This is why we travel.. to get out of our comfort zone and absorb ourselves in the wonders of the diversity of the human experience.
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Feelings..

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It didn’t take long, once we arrived at Donna & Nas’s beautiful home completed the same year that Eisha was born in 2012, to feel the deep sense of loss that everyone was experiencing. It has only been two months..
You would not want to know all that Donna is having to shoulder.. immense.. we are here to do or be whatever is needed.
Jen and I are both movers and shakers so to adjust to a different pace and approach to how things get done has been a challenge. Our brains have been pretty much scrambled for days. There is a wonderful term in Swahili: Pole Pole.. slowly, slowly.. good advice for us!!
We have been having a game every night at dinner time.. last night was Sing a Song event. It was good to share our individual talents (or lack of) and have a great laugh!

Our hearts’ desire:

Lord, make us instruments of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love, Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved, as to love.
Francis of Assisi

Taste..

You’ll been keen to know if we have made any progress at all on the projects Donna assigned us before we left Australia.
Jen has started the task of training the two boys, Rick & Charles, who will need to administer the new online Stock & Order system that Donna wants all her Chefs in each of the camps to use. It has taken a few months for Jen to get her head around the program so... Pole Pole.
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As far as our Mealtime project, we have gone ahead and ordered 10 Hippo Rollers which we will introduce to the Esilalae community when they arrive here (early February maybe?) We all take running tap water for granted.. we have taps everywhere in our homes, schools, everywhere. There is NO local water supply to homes even here in Arusha. Donna has tanks that supply to their house but if you go out through the gates of the house, there are women and children carrying water from who knows where on their heads. Fresh water for the Esilalae community is a good 5 miles away. A long way to carry more than 10 litres of water a few times a day.
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We love getting around the neighbourhood and meeting the locals. We have a very well-spoken shopkeeper just 100 metres up the road who knows more about what’s going on in Australia than we do. It might surprise you that there are minimal bitumen streets around town. We have had quite a bit of rain so the dirt has turned to mud and you could have a dip in the potholes. The local kids are shy but love to see what they look like when we take a photo of them. We are learning Swahili VERY slowly... we have about six words so far.. long way to go!! (Then there’s the Maasai Ma language!!)
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In Memory of Nas

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We were honoured to be part of the musical community’s tribute to dear Nas last tonight. It was at a Sports Club grounds and was a night filled with love and a lot of rap music... unusual but heart-wearing. It was the celebration of Nas that Donna had not had the opportunity to have... she felt very blessed to see how many people honoured and miss Nas so much.
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Still interested in a Working Safari??

You will not be disappointed but you will be challenged to move outside your comfort zone... more to come..

Posted by TravellingLight 08:16 Archived in Tanzania Comments (6)

ARUSHA AWAITS US...

... and we are ready for it!! Leaving on 15 January and returning to Brisbane on 26 February.

rain 30 °C

Just saying

For those of you who think we are gadabouts, we will have you know that we have hardly left Brisbane since the beginning of October which Muffie and Gracie have been very pleased about. When we DID venture away, we took both of them with us (to Straddie for a week). But we are on the move again.. but are we Travelling Light??

Where is this place called Arusha?

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Here are some Google facts..

Arusha is a city in East Africa's Tanzania, located at the base of volcanic Mt. Meru. It's a gateway to safari destinations and to Africa's highest peak, 5,895m Mt. Kilimanjaro, lying some 100 kilometers northeast. To the west lies Serengeti National Park, home to wildlife including lions, rhinoceros, giraffes and leopards. Annual migrations feature huge herds of wildebeests crossing its plains. The Arusha Clock Tower in the middle of town marks the exact midpoint between Cairo and Cape Town... Amazing💥

Here are some MUCH more interesting facts..

Arusha is where our dear friend, Donna Duggan, and her family live. Donna is an ‘Old Girl’ from Moreton Bay College where both Jen & I filled in a bit of time towards the end of our teaching careers. In 2005, Donna and her beloved husband Nas began a tiny little Safari Company (consisting of one clapped out vehicle) which they called MAASAI WANDERINGS. The reason they called it that was because all of the safaris from Arusha to the Serengeti, Tarangire and every other National Park in Northern Tanzania goes through traditional Maasai land. Donna and Nas found very quickly that Maasai people have less opportunity and hope of getting out of the poverty cycle they have been forced into because of the encroaching National Parks into their traditional grazing land. Part of Donna’s humanitarian work has been to improve the chances of the Maasai children to receive an education.
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Why are we going there?

Now there’d be very few of our loyal subscribers who have not heard the story. Here’s a quick summary for those who are forgetful or have somehow missed out. Over a number of years, Jen & I have gone to Africa. Our first trip in 2001 was to South Africa for my old friend, Judy Snaddon’s 50 th birthday celebrations. Here began our obsession with African wildlife and people: this has not diminished!!
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The next trip was in 2006 to the exotic Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, where an old Wondall girl (Michelle Cairncross) asked Jen to photograph her wedding. We went on their honeymoon with them to the Serengeti and met up with Donna, Nas and Baby Rami. Since then we have taken numerous friends and family with us to share the wonders of Africa with them.
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Donna has introduced us to the Maasai culture and to the needs of these ancient people. She has worked closely with the elders of several villages and has established Nursery Schools in five different Schools where the children are given a chance to learn Swahili (not their native language). The Tanzanian Education is taught in Swahili. More Maasai children are now progressing through school instead of dropping out and returning to herding goats and carrying water.
When Donna was home last June with Rami & Eisha visiting her Mum & Dad here in Brisbane, we volunteered to help her do some stuff that she was NEVER going to get around to herself. This included computer skills that Jen has, photobook making skills that I have, educational skills that we both have (fast fading, might I add!)
Knowing that Donna’s humanitarian work amongst the Maasai people could always do with a boost, we negotiated that the best project for us was to raise a bit of cash to attempt to improve the shabby nutrition of the kids who wander to the Esilalae School which Donna established in 2009. We saw the first building just before the kids started school there and now there are three smallish buildings with 200 students squeezed in in most days. Photos to come once we get to Tanzania!
‘MEALTIME FOR MAASAI STUDENTS’ project was born on 4 November 2017 down at Bayside Uniting Church on a Saturday night gig called Bayside Getaway. Little did we realise that, within two weeks, Donna and family would be grieving the tragic loss of her beloved Nas, his brother Shatri and their bestie, Star in a light plane accident in the hills around Serengeti National Park. There is no imagining what pain and heartache Donna has been though since then but she has soldiered on; revamping the leadership of the company which now has 250 employees, keeping the bookings and safaris going, fulfilling one of Nas’s projects of establishing a new luxury camp in the eastern Serengeti NP and keeping Rami (11yrs) and Eisha (5 yrs) safe and surrounded by love. Donna’s Mum & Dad are ‘Salt of the earth’ people and have been by her side, weathering so much of the grief and torment with her.
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We KNOW now why we were led to offer help and we KNOW why Mealtime for Maasai Students was established. So many people who know and Love Donna and the Duggans have had a way of expressing their grief through giving to this project. We have been humbled by the generosity of SO many.
We worked out that we would need $10 000 to establish a trial year of feeding these 200 kids every day they came to school.. TICK!!
We then did some research and talked to folk who are already doing similar stuff among the Maasai people and we realised there will be some infrastructure issues to address. Water is as scarce as hen's teeth and fuel for cooking is a dilemma as well.

What will we be doing?

Your guess as as good as ours... we'll go softly, softly, one day at a time and try not to be a bother. There is no lack of things that need to be accomplished so we won't be bored!! We'll keep you posted.

ARE WE TRAVELLING LIGHT??

We've got to 'fess up here and say our baggage weight is double what we took to cold wintery Europe for 6 weeks in 2016! But, in our defence, Donna and family have given us quite a load of gear (including over 80 caps for the Maasai kids) and we have a collection of goodies to hand out as well. An old friend, Bev Ferrier, made over 60 carry bags for the kids to bring their books to school in. They don't pack a lunch.. nor do they carry a water bottle.. nor do they have a cupboard full of clothes.
On a higher plain, we'd like to share that we have a sense of 'travelling IN the Light' and we'll share a few thoughts and quotes from some of what we are reading. We have discovered Franciscan Theology and our hearts are definitely 'lighter' for it. Saint Francis of Assisi in Italy died in 1226 at the age of 44 but his legacy is alive and well today for those who listen deeply.
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Who would like to come in 2019?

We are gathering together names of people who would love to experience the wilds of Tanzanian National Parks with us as well as meet the Maasai people and volunteer to do something useful for a few days. Now, don't be thinking you'll be putting up your own tent, fighting off lions on the way to the latrines and foraging for food. Donna's "camps' in the Serengeti are definitely more "glamping'!!
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We are thinking our first ‘Working Safari’ might set off in about April/May 2019 and would be for about 16-18 days. The cost has not been worked out yet but start saving if you’re keen (possible $8000-$10000/pp depending on what inclusions you might choose!) The idea will be that you would travel in groups of around 6 to 8 folk.. no big coach trip, just small safari vehicles.
Let us know if you are interested and we will keep talking to Donna about arrangements!

How can you support us?

We are humbled by the extraordinary support we have had so far for our project 'Mealtime for Maasai Students'. We are looking forward to actioning our plan to provide basic but nutritious meals to these kids. There are a few hurdles to jump over before the food will actually go into their tummies but we will keep you posted!!
Anyone who has missed out on the opportunity to share with us in this venture, here are the details of the Bank Account we are using for donations.
Name: Eileen Short
BSB: 514179
Account Number: 170229
We also have a Paypal account but it attracts a small fee.. https://www.paypal.me/MealsforMaasai

Home Front

We are blessed to have found Noreen & Gerry who will house and pet sit for us while we are away. We are leaving our beloved pets and our garden in very good hands. Our adopted grandson, Mr Teddy, starts school next week. It is inconceivable that that dear little boy is old enough to enter into an education system which he will take years to complete. We are very sad not to be here to see him walk into Sherwood State School on his first day under the biggest red hat in the world! Isabelle is not missing out. She is starting Ballet lessons.. what a little trick she is!
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Next stop.. Arusha!

Posted by TravellingLight 14:03 Archived in Tanzania Comments (11)

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