The End…or is it?

The End…or is it?

On 29th July 2016 we returned from Tanzania having achieved what we’d set out to do. Most obviously, of course, we’d finished a library for the kids of the KYGN School, who were now able to read, borrow and access 1000 books between them – something they could only have dreamed about for years beforehand.

But that’s not all we’d achieved. If I can allow myself a moment of self-congratulation, we’d managed to safely navigate fourteen teenage girls – almost all of whom had never been outside of Europe – through Tanzania for three weeks. All of them described the trip with terms such as ‘amazing’ and ‘life changing’; equally as important they returned home safe and healthy. That’s no small achievement…

I’ve spoken earlier about how this trip was about their personal growth and development, and I think – to varying degrees, inevitably – they underwent precisely that. They learnt a lot about themselves and what they’re capable of, surprising both themselves and the adults with what they were capable of. In short, the fact the trip was such a success is down to them – so let’s put the spotlight on them rather than me now!

20160723_141828I could list all of the ways I’m so very proud of them, but that would be a long blog post in itself. But just a few of the successes we had that were down to them – the library looked amazing (better than I thought it would) thanks to their hard work, they managed to teach classrooms full of little kids despite having no idea beforehand that they would, they succeeded in the fine art of negotiation and haggling at markets and with hostel owners, cooked delicious meals for 17 people on a daily basis and didn’t panic on the occasions we got lost/stranded/missed a bus etc…and there was more than one instance of this happening!

Perhaps the best thing of all for me, though, was how they worked together as a team. They were by no means all the best of friends with each other beforehand – there was a diverse range of age groups participating and some of them hadn’t even met each other before the group got together for the first time, but they gelled incredibly well. If there was conflict within the group they resolved it themselves, and no one turned their nose up at the idea of sharing a tent with such and such a person: something which adults are certainly capable of doing, in my experience!

20160718_163344They did all return as changed people, and many of them have expressed a desire to return to KYGN. In fact one of the group, Claire*, is a budding Doctor and on the back of some work experience she did shortly after we returned to the UK at a Hospital in London, is looking in to providing mosquito nets for all the children of the School and improving their medical care. She is hoping to return next summer, and we’re already making plans to help her with her proposed return trip.

But it’s not just Claire who is returning. We feel that our work there is very much unfinished. Sure, the library is technically finished, but what good is it if we just open it up and then hightail it out of there, never to be seen again?

No, the library still needs books. 1000 books isn’t as much as it sounds, and the shelves are all still a bit on the bare side – so it’s very much up to us to ensure that we keep fundraising and sourcing books for the School to add to their collection. A library’s collection is never complete.

20160717_095750KYGN is also still in the process of expanding its school, and for this it needs continued financial support. So we need to ensure we continue our help on that front as well, and not just for the library. As it says on their website, what counts as a little money for most of us goes a long way over there – £5 a month, for example, can provide a whole class with exercise books, stationery and equipment for a whole year. So we’ll be looking at raising as much money and acquiring as many books for the library as we can…

Ahead of returning there in 2018!

Yes, I’m happy to report that our visiting KYGN is not a one and done thing. Another group of lucky teenage girls will have the opportunity for a life-changing experience themselves. It’s a long way off but preparations for this are under way. And I will, of course, be blogging about this in a new series of posts…watch this space!

If you want to find out more about supporting KYGN, visit their website here; UK users may wish to check out the KYGN UK website.

*Names of the girls have been changed

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42 Comments

  • Ugo Cei

    October 3, 2016 at 6:35 pm Reply

    Love what you’re doing for the people of Tanzania. If only more people would think of what they can leave in each place they visit, instead of what they can take away.
    Ugo Cei recently posted…Photographing the Upper and Lower Antelope Slot Canyons in Page, ArizonaMy Profile

    • Joe

      October 3, 2016 at 7:08 pm Reply

      Amen to that, Ugo. I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can offer such opportunities; not everyone is, but people can certainly give back to the people of countries they visited in different ways too 🙂

  • Naomi

    October 3, 2016 at 6:50 pm Reply

    I think you can congratulate yourself for all the things you’ve done and all the things you’re unaware you’ve done. I’m sure you made a lifetime impression and help built a better future!
    Naomi recently posted…Things to do in Liverpool for a short weekend get-a-wayMy Profile

    • Joe

      October 3, 2016 at 7:09 pm Reply

      Thanks Naomi, and yes, I do hope that we have left behind intangible things that are every bit as important as the more obvious things we have left there 🙂

  • Bob

    October 3, 2016 at 7:59 pm Reply

    What a great trip for the girls to remember and a great cause also. Now the planning starts for the next trip, wish you luck. I have yet to travel to Africa but always wanted to. Been mostly to Europe, Asia and Central America.
    Bob recently posted…How Dangerous Is The Country You Are Traveling To?My Profile

    • Joe

      October 3, 2016 at 8:39 pm Reply

      Thanks Bob 🙂 Planning is indeed already underway, as there are many logistics to consider! I can heartily recommend Africa for definite; I haven’t been to Central America and would love to check it out some time.

  • Sara Broers

    October 3, 2016 at 11:52 pm Reply

    How awesome is this, supporting people that live in Tanzania. Making a difference with a library, what’s not to love about that? Social good and travel are a great fit and it looks like you are embracing it well.

    • Joe

      October 4, 2016 at 4:57 am Reply

      Thank you Sara, and I agree with that sentiment. It is my sincere hope that my posts about this project and on volunteering in general will inspire others to do the same – like I say, not everyone is fortunate enough to be in a position where they can build a library for a school, but even just spending a few days somewhere can make a difference 🙂

  • Cristal

    October 4, 2016 at 8:17 pm Reply

    I’m really looking forward to what’s happens next here and how everything goes for the school. I know you’ve done such great things for the community and I hope you got a lot out of it as well!

    • Joe

      October 4, 2016 at 9:34 pm Reply

      Thanks Cristal, and I think we all did get a lot out of it, definitely. That’s the beautiful thing about projects such as this: they benefit both the children of the school in Tanzania, and the young people – and the adults – who went out there this past summer 🙂

  • Dave (silverbackpacker )

    October 5, 2016 at 1:21 am Reply

    Great work. I also partake in some kind of giving back whereever i am.Just recently im back froma gift giving trip to the Philippines southernmost province of Tawi Tawi.
    Kudos toyou and your team for the good work and helpyou are offering to locals on your travels
    Dave (silverbackpacker ) recently posted…Tacloban RevisitedMy Profile

    • Joe

      October 5, 2016 at 5:57 am Reply

      Thank you Dave. What work was it you were doing in the Philippines? It’s a beautiful country, for sure, but also a place with lots of poverty, so it’s great to hear you were doing some work over there 🙂

  • shayan Naveed

    October 5, 2016 at 4:50 am Reply

    Wow,, this is incredible what you guys are doing. Just amazing. I honestly have no words because it makes me feel guilty that I travel for myself and never help others out. I mean we try to give back but this is to another level. Great work!

    • Joe

      October 5, 2016 at 5:59 am Reply

      Ah, you shouldn’t feel guilty my friend. You have to realise that I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to be able to do something like this through my job. Most people are not! It is possible for many of us to try to make a difference on a smaller scale, and I would encourage you to do that – trust me, you won’t regret it 🙂

  • Jaimee Nicole Bell

    October 5, 2016 at 5:46 am Reply

    This is really inspiring. It’s nice to read blog posts about things that actually benefit the world in some way rather than just the normal “5 Things to Do in….” posts.
    (Also, I love the Winne the Pooh quote on the wall, so cute.)

    • Joe

      October 5, 2016 at 6:00 am Reply

      Thank you Jaimee 🙂 Yes, I did try to present something a bit different to the norm with these posts, and glad to hear it seems to have paid off. Your kind comments are appreciated! Oh and the Winnie the Pooh quote was totally the girls’ idea too.

  • aimee horgan

    October 5, 2016 at 5:59 pm Reply

    Wow, what amazing things you’ve done in Tanzania! I’m sure you’ve made a larger impression than you can imagine!

    • Joe

      October 5, 2016 at 7:08 pm Reply

      Yeah hopefully…the litmus test will be to see how things ave developed when we return there in two years’ time 🙂

  • Maja | Mexatia

    October 5, 2016 at 7:00 pm Reply

    It is truly amazing what you are doing – you are changing those girls lives as well. They are all happy to have you!
    Maja | Mexatia recently posted…One week in Slovenia: The itinerary and budget for perfect holidaysMy Profile

    • Joe

      October 5, 2016 at 7:09 pm Reply

      Ah, I’d like to think so. I think now we’re back, they’re probably glad to be rid of me again 😉

  • Christine K

    October 5, 2016 at 7:59 pm Reply

    Just goes to show that with a vision such as yours and a special group of people, miracles can happen. Have enjoyed reading about your experience and it will be very interesting to see how things progress. You certainly have a lot of great young people to mentor!
    Christine K recently posted…Are Frequent Flyer Programs Too Complicated?My Profile

    • Joe

      October 6, 2016 at 6:14 am Reply

      Thanks Christine, and yes, I am very lucky to have such wonderful young people to work with 🙂 Will be sure to keep everyone updated on how this all progresses from here on out…

  • melody pittman

    October 5, 2016 at 10:31 pm Reply

    What a fantastic organization and how impressive for you to be so involved in it and to get so much accomplished. This is a great mission and you should be so proud for all that you’ve done. How did the teenage girls get selected? Is there an application process?

    • Joe

      October 6, 2016 at 6:16 am Reply

      Thank you very much 🙂 We selected the girls via application, yes, and chose them on merit. We wanted to pick them for the right reasons – everyone would want to go for Tanzania, of course; we wanted to be sure that they were going for the right reasons, and the fact that they all said our time at the school was the highlight of the trip seems to vindicate this decision 🙂

  • Kallsy P

    October 6, 2016 at 1:41 am Reply

    This is so inspiring. In college I did a mission trip to Australia to work with the Aboriginal population and do similar school work. The work you’ve done here is truly amazing and will hopefully help myself and others reflect on the power of gaining knowledge about a culture, learning, and teaching.

    • Joe

      October 6, 2016 at 6:18 am Reply

      Thanks 🙂 Would be great to read about your experiences in Australia some time…

  • Shorty

    October 6, 2016 at 3:58 am Reply

    What language are these books in? Did you think of collecting second hand books in addition to the fundraising for new ones?

    • Joe

      October 6, 2016 at 6:20 am Reply

      Pretty much all of the books we gave them last time were second hand, and we will continue to provide them with second hand books. The reason we want to get some new ones too is that all the books are in English – this is fine up to a point as they are all taught in English – but we would like to get some Swahili books, especially for the younger kids, and these are harder to come by, hence the need to get them new.

  • Travelling Tom

    October 6, 2016 at 11:08 am Reply

    I’d love to do something similar to this. It’s a great act to help those less fortunate than ourselves. You should be proud of the work you’ve done!
    Travelling Tom recently posted…12 useful things to know before moving to SpainMy Profile

    • Joe

      October 6, 2016 at 2:32 pm Reply

      Thanks Tom, we are, and hope you do get to do something similar in the future. Even smaller scale good deeds can go a very long way 🙂

  • Erika Bisbocci

    October 7, 2016 at 9:30 pm Reply

    You are doing some great work in Tanzania. I’m sure the experience has been life-changing for all those who took part in the construction of the library. Since you are still looking for books, I’d recommend you look into Darien Book Aid. When I was working on the library I helped expand in Namibia, they were able to donate a crate of carefully selected books to send to my school!
    Erika Bisbocci recently posted…Snorkeling in Komodo National ParkMy Profile

    • Joe

      October 9, 2016 at 6:20 pm Reply

      Thanks Erika! Will certainly bear that in mind – I do have some other sources in place already, naturally, but it doesn’t hurt to have as many options as possible. And if they came through for you in a good way in Namibia, then all the more reason to check them out 🙂

  • Prerna Malhan

    October 8, 2016 at 12:45 pm Reply

    That takes courage and lots of love for people to do what you are doing. You are working for building a better future. Awesome! Keep going places!

    • Joe

      October 9, 2016 at 6:20 pm Reply

      Thanks 🙂

  • Subhadrika Sen

    October 10, 2016 at 11:02 am Reply

    First of all let me Congratulate you on setting up the Library. I am an avid book reader and understand how difficult it is for books to be available in some parts of the world. So, this is a great cause you have lent your hand into.

    • Joe

      October 10, 2016 at 5:58 pm Reply

      Thank you. It’s something I feel very strongly about, and it’s so important to have books and all the benefits they bring if one is to have a chance to better themselves in life. I know that the library is already making a difference 🙂

  • Bethanny Sudibyo

    October 10, 2016 at 4:19 pm Reply

    Wow! This is such a inspiring project and inspiring post. As travelers, we can still make a difference in the world and this project shows it. Hope everything goes well for this project!

    • Joe

      October 10, 2016 at 5:59 pm Reply

      Thank you 🙂 We have achieved much already, but now is not the time to rest on our laurels…

  • Ashley Renne

    October 11, 2016 at 11:47 pm Reply

    I’ve been following your story for a couple months now and it’s nice to see how it all turned out. I love the video with all the photos from the experience. Those girls are really lucky to have gone through such a life changing experience like this. It’s beautiful what you and they have accomplished <3

    • Joe

      October 12, 2016 at 6:25 am Reply

      Thanks Ashley 🙂 It was a long road, with plenty of bumps along the way, but all so worth it in the end. That’s why we’re looking to do it again in 2018…

  • Sia

    October 17, 2016 at 9:18 am Reply

    Amazing fulfilling experience! Every difficulty and bumps along the way were well worth it with the end result being so significant. I loved to read the whole story and see the pictures as it seemed like a life-changing experience not only for the girls but the kids that now has access to these resources.
    Sia recently posted…Interview: Anna and Matt from HostelgeeksMy Profile

    • Joe

      October 17, 2016 at 2:48 pm Reply

      Thanks Sia 🙂 The difficulties and setbacks were what made it all worthwhile, in a way, as it made completing things that much sweeter. And yes, it was a two way life changing thing…and it was also a beneficial thing for me as well.

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