26 hours, 3 flights and 4 countries and we find ourselves back in Tanzania, the country where Ashley and I found each other. This time we are not single volunteers, we are, of course married and we have our 21-month-old daughter Indie with us. It’s been 3 and half years since we have been back and things have certainly changed in every aspect of our lives.
This time we are back for 2 reasons, primarily to host a group of young boys from St Augustine’s College who we brought over through Trek for Change to help us finish building the school we have been building for Jitihada Support – one of our partner NGO’s here in Arusha. Secondly, to spend time with Adam and Mr. Magati to ensure our HIV program is running efficiently in Merarani and Monduli.
The weeks leading up to our departure out of Sydney were hectic, we left our café, Bare Naked Bowls Manly to our newly appointed manager Sunny and wanted to bring her up to speed with everything so she could handle a busy Summer/Xmas period without us. We made a decision to launch our second Bare Naked Bowls in Bronte in April 2017 and had to get all leases and DA documents signed prior to us leaving. Plus of course, all the preparation work that needed to be done to ensure the Trek for Change / St Augustine’s trip went off without a hitch and was a complete success. We also found out that we are pregnant again, Indie will become a big sister in August of this year and we can’t wait for the new arrival.
Trek for Change is a company I launched with my friend Toby, it’s sole purpose is adventure for a cause, meaning we want to take people over to the countries that we operate the charity in and give them a hands on experience whilst spending time on the projects and with the kids we support. We have been working with and planning with St Augustine’s for over 12 months now and the time had finally come to take 14 of their boys and 3 of their teachers to Arusha. The objective of the trip was to complete the build of classroom number 5 for the Jitihada School that IBSH has been helping to build for the last 18 months. The 14 boys along with the school raised just under $15,000 AUD for the trip that all went directly on the materials and resources to complete the 5th classroom.
Jitihada Support is a local NGO in Arusha that care for, educate, feed and shelter up to 200 orphan children through their education platform. IBSH have been partnered with Jitihada since the beginning and slowly, but surely, have been helping them build their new school for the children. The 12-day program for St Augustine’s was most certainly centred on the build, but also some days off including water fall visits, a safari and other extra curricular and cultural activities. The build itself was extremely hard work, if you can imagine mixing cement, the old school way, in 40+ degree heat for hours on end and then filling cement buckets and carrying them into and around the classroom to then lay cement for the ground or render the interior and external walls. Needless to say it was back breaking work but the boys were amazing, 16 year old boys and they out did themselves with their tenacity to get the job done for the kids.
Of course there were some cultural differences, which led to some frustrating moments with the local builders, but we were able to work through them and get the classroom built. My favourite time around the build site was when we organised for 75 of the Jitihada children to visit and we had a big picnic lunch and took the afternoon off to play some sports – for me, this was everything I have been working so hard towards and it was a deeply satisfying moment, seeing Trek for Change in partnership with St Augustine’s complete a build supporting IBSH and its partnered charity Jitihada and then for everyone involved to have a wonderful afternoon together where connections and relationships were formed. I remember taking a seat on the side line and watching Anita one of the St Augustine teachers bonding with a local family and sharing some beautiful moments, watching Toby and Adam and most of the St Augustine’s boys playing soccer against some of the older Jitihada boys, watching one of the St Augustine’s boys flying his drone as the local kids looked on in awe and my favourite watching my daughter and wife playing with about 15 young local girls that were carrying Indie around everywhere and I thought to myself, this is what life is all about – helping people connect and seeing some good come from it.
If your organisation or school are interested in exploring some of our Trek for Change initiatives and programs, please do not hesitate to email email@example.com for further information.
Another Tanzanian trip highlight for me was my time out in Mererani to gauge how our regional HIV program was going. The trip out there was quite the experience – I recall sitting in the back of our safari truck, driven my Adam, speeding at 110km an hour down a pebbly, rocky and dusty dirt road – BOOM we hit a rock the size of a football and the truck gets thrown up in the air, we land, on all 4 tyres, but it was a hard hit. The engine stops and we are stranded between Arusha and Mererani with absolutely nothing but the plains of Tanzania surrounding us. Our security guard Doulla had come along for the ride and luckily knew a few things about cars, he managed to semi fix a broken hose pipe that was leaking oil. The engine kicked over but only allowed us to go about 15km an hour, sadly we headed back to Arusha – it took us over 4 hours to travel the 50km’s back into town. So, Day 1 was a failure, but we were determined to get there the next day. Day 2 was a success and after 90min in the car I found myself sitting in a small brick hut which acted as the office for our HIV manager on the ground in Mererani – we sat and talked for hours about our program and the subsequent successes and challenges that were being experienced on the ground, the room was tiny and hot, sometimes exceeding 50 degrees but the discussion was of grave importance as we were discussing the 2017 plans for the 22 families we are supporting in the region.
We have over 40 adults and 60 children that we are supporting in our HIV program and over 75% are HIV positive – our plan of attack is simple, get them healthy first, through adherence to the right medication on time every day. Then get the children educated, enrolled in schools, uniforms bought and everything else they needed to perform at school. After that, we retrain the adults so they can support themselves. It sounds simple, right, MEDICATE, EDUCATE and RETRAIN but we have a myriad of issues we deal with on a daily basis. However, we also have our man on the ground Mr. Magati and Adam doing an incredible job and are doing amazing work to ensure the families and the program is a success. In fact, we have had multiple families in the region that want to be a part of the program but right now we do not have the funds to extend our support – hopefully some day soon. I visited 3 of the families after our meeting, Mamma Grace, Mamma Habiba and Mamma Joyce. Each family had their own set of challenges, but dealing with HIV and their living conditions were underlying everything. I should take a step back and say that our of all the travels I have done in the developing world, Mererani had the worst poverty I had ever seen, and I have spent years and years across Asia and Africa in some of the poorest countries on this earth. The need for assistance in this part of the world is unimaginable. Meeting these families, spending time with the kids and looking over both their health reports and school reports was an experience I will never forget and one that has strengthened my resolve to get this program right and to extend it to help even more.
For as little as $1,000 per annum, you can support a family in Tanzania with all their medical testing costs, educational support and even fund start-up costs for small businesses for a whole year. To enquire about our family-for-family program, please email me.
Our plans for Tanzania in 2017 are extensive and after being back there again are clear in my mind. Of course we will continue to sponsor our 7 children through university, we will build and extend our HIV program and we will continue to support Jitihada Support through their building programs. We will also use our IBSH home as a way to support our projects by hosting volunteers; we plan to run a crowd-funding campaign for a truck to support our HIV program to alleviate running costs and to rent out to others, again making our projects sustainable.
Of course the majority of this update has been focused on Tanzania as I have just spent 1 month there. Our projects in Nepal have been tracking successfully, we are now supporting 12 children in Nepal who will be completing grade 12 in April and transitioning into University in September this year. 2 of the kids need to work a little harder on their studies as they are one subject behind but have another few months to get on top of it and pass their grade 12 exams gain access to university. The other kids are on track and we cannot wait to set up our home later this year and continue to assist the children achieve their dreams.
We have also launched our 2017 Trek for Change Nepal Cycle adventure and are currently calling for riders to take on this challenge. This 460km fundraising cycle in September through rural Nepal will be an adventure of a lifetime. For more information, please visit http://www.trekforchange.com.au/nepal-adventure-cycling/
As you can see, a lot happening both professionally and personally. Thank you for reading a long and keeping track with what we at IBSH are doing. We stayed passionately committed to our goals to support underprivileged children in Cambodia, Tanzania and Nepal. Personally I stayed committed to Ashley and my growing family and our businesses that help to fund our IBSH projects. Please remember to spend time helping others and that there is a lot going on in this world than just the sometimes bubbled world we put ourselves in.
IBSH is a not for profit organisation with full charitable status in Australia, which means that any donation over $2 is fully tax deductible. If you would like to help us with our projects, then please give generously at http://www.ibsh.com.au/donate-now
We thank all the kind supporters and donors that have contributed to us helping those in need in the countries we support, without your contributions we wouldn’t be able to do what we are doing.
Love to all,
Managing Director IBSH