Arran students help to change lives in Tanzania

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Before the school summer holidays two pupils are their geography teacher from Arran High School made the trip of a lifetime to undertake voluntary work in Tanzania. Here is teacher Brian Donlin’s report on the trip.

‘On Saturday June 3 at 4am Meagan Bennett, Ben Downing and myself stood in the departure queue at Glasgow Airport ready to begin the first stage of our journey to Tanzania.  After meeting another pupil from Carluke in Glasgow we would depart for Amsterdam, meeting up with the remainder of our work party from Perth.

Together we numbered 23 pupils and four members of staff, all undertaking a trip to work with charity groups in Tanzania. Most notably the Vine Trust, whose motto reads: ‘Connecting people to changing lives’ -something which would become extremely relevant over the course of our trip.

Our trip to Tanzania was built around working with both the Vine Trust and the Tanzanian Women’s Research Foundation (TAWREF).  Two groups which specialise in working with vulnerable groups in Tanzania who, amongst many other projects, build homes for those who are in desperate need.  As part of our trip we would be working to build houses for two groups of people in dire need.

Elinami Elisoni was 10 when his father died in 2006.  When this happened he, along with three of his siblings, were abandoned by their mother as she felt she could not provide enough food for the whole family. Over the course of the past decade Elisoni’s siblings have moved on looking for work or to other members of their extended family, leaving Elisoni alone living in a tiny wooden house caring for himself.

Mama Eliambuya was widowed with five children and currently cares for one of her grandchildren whose parents died a number of years ago.  She does her best to care for Kelvin however they currently live in a small mud house. Mama Eliambuya does have land to build a new home for Kelvin and herself, however her brother-in-law has been trying to take this land from her and if not for the support of TAWREF may have succeeded.

The group has been working with local Fundi’s (builders) to build houses for both Elinami Elison and Mama Eliambuya. Both houses should be completed by the end of the summer giving both groups the homes they so badly need.

During our trip, we also visited the Kimashuku and Fuka orphanages. Two organisations that have been assisted by the Vine Trust and work towards providing homes and education to vulnerable young people in Tanzania.  While there we helped to both do some much-needed maintenance to a dormitory block at Fuka. We then took the chance to meet, speak with and play with the children of both orphanages, an experience that illustrated very clearly how people who have very little can still take great joy from some of the simple pleasures in life.

As a well-earned reward at the end of a hard two weeks the group had the opportunity to spend two days on Safari at the breath-taking Tarangirie and Ngorogoro National Parks.  Bearing witness to both spectacular scenery and the opportunity to see all of Africa’s ‘Big five’ (Rhino/Water Buffalo/Elephant/Leopard and Lion).  This experience helped to cap off what had already been the trip of a lifetime for the group.

As the trip ended and Meagan, Ben, myself and the pupils from Perth and Carluke headed back to Kilimanjaro Airport to start our journey home, filled with memories of a life-changing two weeks.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped us both with fundraising and the donations that we passed on to the many fantastic charities we met in Tanzania. Without the support of both the local businesses and wider community on Arran this trip without a doubt would not have taken place.  Without this support Meagan, Ben and myself would not have had the opportunity to not only participate in such a worth while program but to have our horizons expanded so remarkably in the process, so all that remains for us to say is ‘Asante Sana’.’