How Volunteering Overseas Changed My Life

How Volunteering Overseas Changed My Life

Be the change you want to see

TanzaniaIt’s been nearly a decade since I went to Tanzania. I applied on a whim to spend eight weeks promoting HIV/AIDS awareness in a remote village with a Toronto-based NGO called Youth Challenge International. I’m not sure what exactly made me sign up: the idea of traveling to an unfamiliar place, or believing that I could seriously make a difference in the lives of people overseas. “Be the change you want to see in the world”, is what I kept hearing, and this was my chance. I was an undergraduate student at the time, studying international development in between commitments as a varsity athlete. It was the summer after my second year of university and before I knew it, I was replacing my soccer cleats with flip flops and my school books with Swahili language guides. Off I was, bound for the African continent with a small group of people I’d never met and ready for anything. Hakuna Matata, right? It really does mean no worries – in case you were wondering.

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Giraffe in the homeland! 8 weeks as an overseas volunteer in Tanzania – Part 1/2

Giraffe in the homeland! 8 weeks as an overseas volunteer in Tanzania – Part 1/2

“Jambo, jambo bwana, habari gani, mzuri sana, wageni mwakaribishwa, Tanzania yetu Hakuna Matata….”

Who knew that Hakuna Matata actually meant “no worries!” Well in kiswahili, it sure does. In fact many a Lion King reference turned out to be surprisingly accurate including the monkey named Rafiki (meaning “friend”) and Simba (meaning “Lion”) etc. This cheerful song, welcoming visitors to Tanzania, was originally written for  Kenya but was soon adopted by the Tanzanian people with slight alteration. More importantly, these were the words that welcomed me to the country I would call home for 3 months in the summer of 2005.

Continue reading “Giraffe in the homeland! 8 weeks as an overseas volunteer in Tanzania – Part 1/2”