Ryan Jones, Rugby Programme Coordinator, gives us a quick run down of what we have been up to in Tanzania:
“Firstly, before I write anything else I have to get it out of my system, Tanzania is massive!! It’s a massive country, with massive mountains, scenery, culture and will always have a ‘massive’ long-lasting place in my heart.
I have seen and experienced so much within our time in Tanzania that it’s very difficult to put into words! The expedition team crossed into Tanzania with long-term supporter and director of Lloyd Morgan Productions, Lloyd Morgan.
The first beautiful scene to meet us was Lake Manyara and its brilliant baboons! As always, I’m completely honoured to be a team member, that feeling of privilege has only been enhanced by my time in Tanzania.
Unique to Tanzania, our work spread into three separate locations instead of one per country. First up was Arusha: We were fortunate enough to be accommodated at the lovely Braeburn School and I placed myself alongside JP and Ben for our week’s worth of uniting, empowering and inspiring through rugby at Arusha Primary.
The weather was quite an issue, but utilising our trademark adaptability and sponteneouty, we successfully put together a fantastic rugby week which also included meeting ‘Jonny Mike’ – the 80-year old giant tortoise and Arusha Primary mascot – the stunning TGT rugby pitch as well as Jon, Ben and myself having the pleasure of spending an evening coaching young Arushans full contact rugby!
The second Tanzanian location to be visited was the town of Moshi, where we had the pleasure of staying at the Stella Maris hotel (a non-profit organisation that funds an AIDS victims orphanage) – a mostly clear view of Mount Kilimanjaro each day and the only thing that could possibly top those two amazing things: working with Moshi street children from the wonderful Mkombozi agency! This is a charity I fully intend to support on my return to the UK.
I’m a pretty down-to-earth guy but for three days I think I was in the most bizarre form of paradise! To be a volunteer in Africa is to follow in the footsteps of many, many remarkable people. However, to experience elation that is unique to you and the homeless/deprived children you are selflessly helping, in a way that’s different to everybody else, is a phenomenal feeling. A feeling that I will always treasure, and I’m eternally grateful to United Through Sport for this huge opportunity for self discovery and one of the best weeks of my life!
We had a well earned week-off from project work after visiting the museums and crocodile farms of the former slave port, Bagamoyo. Most of the team headed to Zanzibar to rest a bit after 10 weeks on the road!
The team’s last stop in Tanzania is Dar es Salaam where we first stayed at the beach side campsite Mikadi, travelling to Dar by Tuk-Tuk and ferry each day. Right now, Ben and I are so fortunate to be staying in our new ‘home’ with ex-Tanzanian rugby international, JT, and his lovely wife Lynn. (Thank you so much for your hospitality, please look me up on your next UK visit!)
Mike, Jon and I are working with Mapambano Primary School, such an organised institution, heroically led by Head Teacher Idda Uisso!
If you thought that it might take us a while to get back into the swing you could not be more wrong! With Idda’s enthusiasm, the children’s unlimited appreciation, G4S’ superb input and support in coaching refreshments and resources, a daily rendition of the Tanzanian National Anthem – closely followed by the song “welcome teachers, Mr Richard we love you” – Mapambano reached a United Through Sport first, by achieving a Level 4 Assessment Award Certificate!
Dar es Salaam has the potential to be a new personal best for us! Thank you as always for your support and well wishes!
See you all in Malawi.”
Check out a video of our work in Tanzania.