September 14, 2014
May 19, 2014
June 23, 2009

Going Home!

After spending the last three days in Nairobi, our final destination before we fly home, we have begun to mull over the question we know we’ll hear hundreds of times: “How was your trip?” Having visited 18 projects, criss-crossed East Africa, risked our lives more times than we care to tell our parents about, and met thousands of incredible people (literally), we know that it would be impossible to condense the experience into a few words. We have raftedthe Nile, rapelled down Uganda’s tallest waterfall, we’ve hung out in the world’s largest thatched hut, we’ve stood in no-man’s-land between Rwanda and DR Congo (without passports), and camped on the white sandy beaches of Dar es Salaam. We’ve also come face to face with AIDS, poverty, disability, and many other struggles. Through this, we found, time and time again, that the money contributed through GlobalGiving is helping organizations, communities, and individuals to overcome these struggles and better their lives in tangible ways. While each project responded to unique problems experienced by the communities it served, they all exhibited strength, creativity, unity, and gratitude.

In the face of constant adversity, when every day is a struggle, the communities we met with had the strength and endurance to rise to the challenge day after day. While navigating the rocky slopes of Kilimanjaro and living in a community that doesn’t understand them or their needs, KASI members exemplify this strenght by thriving and even changing policiy and public opinion, all from their wheelchairs.

By thinking outside the box, these projects have found creative solutions to local problems. Who would have ever thought that rats, a common pest, could save lives. Because of the work of HeroRATS, this unusual solution is saving lives every day.

By bringing together all segments of a community and finding the advantages of diversity, projects have encouraged neighborhoods, towns, cities, and even nations to unite. In a small rural town in Eastern Uganda, RARUDO has brought together orphans, widows, grandparents, and even goats to fight AIDS and poverty as one.

At every project we visited, we heard how lives have been radically changed because of GlobalGiving. We have seen tears and dances, we’ve received hugs, kisses, fruits and flowers, all in effort to show the gratitude people feel towards GlobalGiving donors. The members of Women’s Microfinance Innitiative even paraded us throughthe streets of their town, complete with 200 singing women!

Through these experiences, we have learned and grown more than we thought possible. Most of all, we have been humbled by the amazing things we’ve seen and the inspiring people we’ve met along the way. We would like to thank all of those people who made this trip possible, and supported us along this journey!

June 20, 2009
Climbing “Kilimanjaro”

Climbing “Kilimanjaro”

June 19, 2009
Alexis at the water park.

Alexis at the water park.

Five Things We Never Expected to Find at a Water Park (but found at Kunduchi Wet n’ Wild in Dar es Salaam)

5. A water park with a stereo stuck on repeat. “When a man loves a woman…”

4. A water park where the ground is essentially gravel (not exactly ideal for hundreds of barefoot guests).

3. A water park that asks you to create an itemized list of everything you put in your locker (tampons, t-shirts, pennies, etc.)

2. A water park that has no life guards manning slides, creating a free for all where kids crash into each-other all over the place.

1. A water park that has three slides which require inner tubes, about 50 inner-tubes (for hundreds of guests), 20 of which have holes. As a result, children are given toxic glue and razor blades to mend the popped tubes for themselves…

June 18, 2009
Brasilla, a KASI member who just received a new, free wheelchair, in her home.

Brasilla, a KASI member who just received a new, free wheelchair, in her home.

Educate, Mobilize, and Empower Tanzania’s Disabled: Project Number 2060

Location: Moshi, Tanzania

After visiting over 15 projects and traveling throughout East Africa, we have been struck, time and time again, by the lack of facilities and infrastructure for the disabled. Almost no buildings, public or private, have wheelchair access and seeing disabled member of society crawling or dragging themselves on the ground is not an uncommon sight. Sadly, the needs of the disabled community are often overlooked by the development agenda. For this reason, we were very excited to visit KASI, an organization addressing the unique needs of people with spinal cord injuries (often left paralyzed below the waist) in Tanzania. In fact, this is the only such organization in Tanzania.

Through targeted advocacy campaigns, KASI is changing the way the public thinks about and responds to the needs of their disabled members. For example, a recent campaign successfully encouraged local banks to build ramps. Now KASI members can, for the first time, open savings accounts. Also, in order to fight the strong stigma facing the disabled, KASI hosted a bi-weekly radio show to educate the community.

In Tanzania, hospitals discharge spinal cord injury patients with little to no counseling, making it difficult and confusing for patients to adjust to their new life. KASI reaches out to the spinally injured to offer them training in life-skills such as relationships, wheelchair maintenance, and income generation. Members are also trained in health, especially the prevention of pressure sores, caused by the lack of sensation in the legs, and can too often be fatal. Currently, KASI lacks the appropriate facilities to conduct these trainings. With funds exclusively donated through GlobalGiving, KASI has recently purchased land to build a center which will act as a training space, counseling center, and dispensary. This center will also have dorms where the recently injured patients can stay and receive care during recovery. Here, a wheelchair workshop will be built, where members will be taught how to construct wheelchairs using local materials. This will provide members with income generation and drive down the cost of wheelchairs, currently at an expensive $350 each.

On the last day of our visit, we stopped by the home of Brasilla, who lives on the muddy and rocky slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. As a 6th grader Brasilla had fallen from a tree, resulting in her being paralyzed from the waist down. Today, Brasilla is 33, and a proud member of KASI. Just last week, she received a new wheel chair which tips less on the rough African terrain, she gladly reported. Following her injry, Brasilla felt depressed and alone. As treasurer of KASI’s women’s group, Brasilla told us that KASI has given her a sense of belonging. Yet, with the training she has received; life skills, embroidery, tye-dye, and solar cooking, Brasilla is completely independent. She told us, “I don’t need help from anyone.”

By looking at the overlooked, and serving the underserved, KASI, with the help of the new center, is changing the future for the disabled in Tanzania.

To learn more about this project and how you can help, visit: www.globalgiving.com/2060.

June 16, 2009
Brian and Alexis outside the Mama Africa Circus with the star of the show. This was an incredible show we saw on one of our few nights in Dar es Salaam. We have to say…we never expected to go to the circus on this trip!

Brian and Alexis outside the Mama Africa Circus with the star of the show. This was an incredible show we saw on one of our few nights in Dar es Salaam. We have to say…we never expected to go to the circus on this trip!

June 15, 2009
Alexis walking a long the beautiful beach of Kigamboni, right outside of Dar es Salaam. These were some of the most incredible beaches we had ever seen.

Alexis walking a long the beautiful beach of Kigamboni, right outside of Dar es Salaam. These were some of the most incredible beaches we had ever seen.