We flew to the north of Tanzania, near Mount Kilimanjaro, and stayed at a local orphanage. And what a wonderful place it is.
After a brief visit to Dar Es Salaam, which was like a nightmare for two white girls (lots of staring, name-calling and even touching), North Tanzania seems like a breath of fresh air. In developing countries like Tanzania it is always useful to Google before you give away your money. For example, when searching for a safari tour, I read about a place called Peace Matunda, where 15% of all earnings are used to sustain a local village orphanage and school. It did not take me long to decide that this is the place where I want to invest my money.
Ever since meeting with our driver we felt very safe and comfortable. The ride to the orphanage was relatively rough, it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, closest town being 15 km away. But that’s why it’s so perfect – calm homey environment in the middle of nature, on the foot of Mount Meru. We rented a room in one of their houses, and while it is very modest, it is also clean and sufficient. For a ridiculously low price (8€ per night) we had breakfast, lunch and dinner with the host family, and the food was seriously delishious. Better than in most of the restaurants we had visited in Zanzibar. Oh, and did I also mention that they had the most friendly dog in the world? I sat under a tree with him and pet him for 20 minutes in a row. Every time I stopped petting he put his paw in my leg to show me that he wants more.
The hostess showed us around the orphanage and the school. They have been running it for 11 years and they are currently taking care of 25 children. In addition to them, there are nearly 200 other less-fortunate kids who come to Peace Matunda to receive education which their parents are not able to afford. Unfortunately neither the school nor orphanage receive financial help from the government so they run solely on donations, safaris, other guided tours and volunteer work. Currently there is a German lady here to teach some kids for 6 months. The owners’ own kids go to the same school so they would get along with other kids living at Peace Matunda. What I found very nice, was that every month they invite 6 of the orphanage kids to live in their personal house, so the kids would feel more like at home. They rotate every month so all the kids get to live with the owners for a while.
The math teacher showed us around the school and every single time we walked into a classroom the kids stood up like soldiers and started singing us songs. I have never seen such disciplined children! Night and day compared to the ones we saw in public school in Nungwi. We felt a bit bad that the kids had to perform to us like that, but the teachers really take pride in the discipline of the kids. All the songs were about how grateful and happy they are to have guests. The kids also got to ask us questions and every single time they asked us what our names are and where are we from. For some reason they thought the name Kertu is very funny. 😀
It really seemed that these kids are actually properly learning and receiving good education. Again, night and day with the school in Nungwi. Peace Matunda is really doing a good job. We were also showed around the orphanage rooms that seemed a bit dark and gloomy but I am sure that it’s just the European standards talking in me. These rooms are a home to these kids. We spoke to one 16-year old girl and she said that she has really good grades and she plans to go study to be a doctor. How awesome is that! And to think that she would have not been able to go to school without Peace Matunda helping her out.
They were also very curious. After I stopped petting the dog and started walking back to our cottage, a small boy said hello to me in a very shy manner. I stopped and said hello back and asked him if he wants to have a conversation with me. He did and even though it was very brief and neither of us understood each other much, we had fun. Soon his friends came out of the corner too and they were very curious of the camera that I had on my shoulder. So I taught them to hold the camera and take photos and oh boy did they find it fun. After that photoshoot I had 100 more photos in my gallery. Soon Katry got curious of how long I have been out and joined us in our little “photo studio”. I also showed the boys my selfie stick, which they loved even more. Just check the pictures below.
What I wanted to say with this blog post is that our money, even though it does not seem a lot in Europe, can make a difference in peoples’ lives and when we travel around the world, we should always seek socially responsible businesses, that also give back to the local community. I have seen it work and it is wonderful. With the money that we gave them (and not for nothing, we receive the most wonderful services), they can pay the salaries of the teachers, buy some kids school clothes and textbooks and provide them with lunch. How wonderful is that?