As the Babcock team return to work and slowly adjust to the rather drastic change in temperature, our team members are able to begin to reflect on the incredible experience they lived together for two weeks in Tanzania.
The last days in Moshi were a whirl-wind of early mornings, safari drives, rare animal sightings and emotional goodbyes. It started with a 6am departure towards Ngorongoro Crater. The team were taken aback by the spectacular views as we reached the top of the crater basin, made even more atmoshpheric by the sheet of rain that was quickly moving across the plain as we made our way into the crater.
As the skies opened and heavy torrential rain began to fall, our drivers spotted a pair of lions which were casually inspecting a fellow safari truck.
Throughout the day we spotted flamingos, elephants, incredibly-coloured birds and had lunch by the hippo pool, where the hippos spent their time sleeping, stretching, yawning and sleeping some more.
As we prepared to head back out of the park to the hostel, we received a tip-off of a cheetah in the area and raced to see her. Our drivers told us that cheetahs had left the Ngorongoro Crater and Conservation area due to hyeenas eating their main food supply. However, a lone cheetah had recently returned to the conservation ground, an areas of over 8000 km sqaured. We felt extremely lucky to have been able to see her!
After a buffet dinner and dip in the pool at Eileen's Trees hotel, the team headed to bed to prepare for another early start for Tarangire National Park.
In Tarangire we were able to spy zebras, giraffes and a herd of playful elephants. We shared our lunch with some very cheeky monkeys who managed to get their hands on some of the team's food when they weren't looking.
We even managed to spot a mother lion and her 3 cubs, a highlight of the day!
Leaving Tarengire park in the afternoon, we travelled back to Moshi for our celebratory thank you dinner with TAWREF staff and their volunteers who had supported us on the worksites, ending the night by teaching our Tanzanian and English volunteers some Scottish dancing and singing a traditional song from the Moshi area.
On the last day, before heading to the airport for their departure to the UK, the team travelled together to each of our three home sites to see the progress that had been made at each by the fundis while we were on safari and to say our farewells to the families, who we had formed strong bonds with over the two weeks. The team were astounded by the progress which had been made over such a short time.
At Mama Esteria's house site, the walls were now completed and the wooden joists were being cut to begin the construction of the roof. The builders tackled the difficult loaction of the site head-on to ensure continued steady progress. Both Lilian and Isaya, Mama Esteria's grandchildren, were there to greet the volunteers alongside their grandmother, who welcomed the volunteers with warmth.
Arriving at Mama Martha's home site, the team were delighted to see that the windows and doors had been fitted and the roof structure was well on it's way to being completed. It gave the volunteers an insight in to how the home may feel once it has been completed for Mama Martha and her grandaughters, Maureen and Noreen. Mama Martha's son, Simon, was also there to thank the volunteers. It was a stark contrast to see this new home, compared to the mud hut Simon welcomed the volunteers into just 2 weeks before to show them where his mother and nieces were living at that time.
The mud hut where Mama Martha currently lives with Noreen and Maureen
Mama Martha's new house
The team found the third home, constructed for Mama Valentina, her son William and daughters Agnes and Levina, with a structured roof and the fundis working on the finishing of the walls. Although Agnes was unable to be there due to work commitments, the team were able to say a last good bye to Mama Valentina, little Levina and hard-working William, as well as many members of the local communtiy and neighbours.
The volunteers left the worksites feeling inspired and hopeful, knowing that the three families would soon be living in their new homes. As we made our way to the airport for their flight home, we sang "Jambo" one last team as a team with Ben, Elly and Richard.
Having been back in the UK for just over a week, the return to daily life has given our volunteers time for thoughtful reflection. Team member Nige noted how the trip not only highlighted the differences between Tanzanian culture and our own culture in the UK, but also the similarities:
"Interacting with the children on site and the orphanages was great fun and rewarding. This just reinforced the point that children everywhere are the same; it’s just the lack of opportunities which society provides them that holds them back".
For Sarah, the most impactful aspect of the trip was the positive attitudes of the people we met during our time there:
"In spite of the basic conditions that many people were living in, they always found the time to smile and find out why we were there. It was extremely humbling to see........ Ultimately I believe this trip, mainly through the people we met, has taught me the art of being able to find happiness in the most unlikely places".
In the coming weeks, the fundis will continue to work on the completion of the three houses, with the hope that they can be handed over to the families in time to allow them to celebrate Christmas in their new home.
Vine Trust would like to say an immense and heartfelt THANK YOU to our pilot team from Babcock Interneational Group. The group worked seamlessly together both on and off the worksites to support their team mates through the emotions of their experience, while making incredible progress towards new homes and lives for three families.