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Magical Moshi moments

  by Gill Carter (Moshi Project Manager)   It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write about my travels.  I’ve had the best intentions but unfortunately documenting my journey through Moshi in Tanzania has been something that has been eternally designated to the ‘do tomorrow’ list.  Until now that is!  Tomorrow is here and so without further ado, I’d like to share with you my favourite things about my life working with African Impact in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro.   I’m a far throw away from being any sort of a writer or blogging extraordinaire, and so I find myself reverting back to the simple formula instilled in me during my high school days: Who? What? When? Where? Why?     What I’ve learnt working in Moshi When I consider broaching the topic of ‘who I have met whilst working with African Impact in Moshi’ a multitude of faces come to mind, and the beautiful thing is the sheer diversity I’ve encountered to date. I live by a very simplistic philosophy being “everyone is different and everyone is funny” (funny as in strange or odd not funny haha!). I know it’s not a very complex theory, however, I do think it is one which we often bypass and do not fully appreciate. Whilst working with African Impact I have really come to appreciate how, although we are all human beings, we are all exceptionally different from one another. The word ‘culture’ often gets thrown around without much thought but since I began living and working in Moshi in 2013 I’ve acquired a new appreciation for culture. It’s extraordinary to see how strong the sense of community is within African cultures, and to observe the roles of women in the household and to learn about traditional tribal customs. At the end of the day culture defines us all and is like a prescribed lens on how we see the world and how we act in this lovely place we call Earth.   Working as a Project Manager in Moshi, I meet volunteers from all over the world, everywhere from Canada and Australia to Gibraltar and Israel- and everywhere in-between!  I’ve also had the incredible opportunity to meet an amazing mix of people through our projects – everyone from babies to bibis (which means ‘grandmother’ in Swahili) including teenagers, adults, the Maasai tribe and children with special needs. To be able to get to know these people and in turn to learn and appreciate their values and way of life has been amazing.   What to expect when volunteering in Moshi Prepare yourselves…I’m going to let you all in on our secret ingredient to a great volunteer experience. It’s a little thing called ‘variety’.A day on project is never the same as the next.  Volunteers work with local people from ages 1 to 100! We teach kindergarten, teenagers, adults and work alongside the elderly in an Old Folks’ Home. We work closely with members of the Maasai tribe as well as children with special needs. This diversity is what makes volunteering in Moshi extra special; volunteers gain valuable insight into the lives of local Africans of different ages, different tribes and different backgrounds and at the same time share a bit about their own heritage. It’s very much a two-way interaction.   When is the best time to volunteer? We need all the hands we can muster in order to ensure our project activities can be carried out as effectively as possible – there is no such thing as too much help!  So, NOW is the time to sign up. I’m the first to put up my hand and admit I am often guilty of procrastinating on big decisions like this, but trust me; this experience is not something you should put off. Stop saying tomorrow, the tomorrows turn into next weeks, the next weeks into next months until eventually, we justify the excuses and tomorrow becomes never.     Where will I volunteer? Volunteers who come to African Impact’s projects in Moshi will work and live in a lovely and very typical African village called Msaranga, located 6km outside of Moshi. Many of the members of our English classes are our neighbours so it doesn’t take long before volunteers make friends with almost everyone in the village. Moshi is the nearest town to Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Waking up and seeing the magnificent peak every day is one of the many perks of living in Msaranga.   Why volunteer in Moshi? Volunteering is often looked upon as being an act of altruism or selflessness – I see it very much as a two-sided coin. Yes, it is about providing service and assistance to those who need support, but it is also about gaining a greater perspective on intercultural awareness, global issues, inequality and focusing on personal growth and adventure. Volunteering is all about giving back and having fun whilst doing it.   ABOUT THE AUTHOR Gill Carter is the Project Manager for African Impact’s volunteer projects in Moshi, Tanzania.  She joined the organisation in 2013 after completing a BSc in International Development. Gill volunteered in Kayamandi, South Africa on HIV/AIDS programs and travelled to Zambia before joining African Impact. She is originally from Raharney, a small village located in the centre of Ireland and says that living in sunny Africa makes a very welcome change from the very lovely, but ever so rainy Irish climate.

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