Mambo!

These past few days have been filled with much excitement and enjoyment.

Yesterday, Tuesday, we had the pleasure of teaching our first seminar in one of the open-air classrooms at the UAACC. A group of about thirty students – both women and men, ranging between the ages of 13-18 – enthusiastically listened to our presentation. They were very receptive and eager to learn our information about HIV/AIDS, which was exhibited by the copious amount of questions they asked during our post-presentation Q&A. After our presentation, we had the pleasure of spending the late afternoon with the children of the UAACC (those who live on the compound full-time at an orphanage). Through soccer, songs and frisbee, we played far into the evening and loved every minute of it. We even had a mini-concert! Before we went to bed, some of us ladies also had custom pants made at the local on-compound boutique.

Today, we had a great time visiting the University of Arusha for a seminar with a class full of college students. The seminar went equally as well as the day before, and we even had the opportunity to discuss potential study abroad opportunities with the Director of External Linkages, Dr. Mussa (who organized the seminar – thanks!), and the class. Hopefully, sometime in the near future, W&M and the University of Arusha can collaborate for a study abroad program. Later in the day, we all packed into a van with a large megaphone to scream and yell –excitedly!- about tomorrow’s free community testing day for HIV/AIDS. We drove for over two hours, through very small and rural villages, where we also distributed free pamphlets and hung up signs.

We’re very much looking forward to our official testing day tomorrow.

- Devon

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We make seminars fun!


Over halfway there!

Greetings from Tanzania! Today we began the work we came here to do. After eating our fresh fruit and toast, we got to work producing our “Tangazos” or “Announcements” to put up around town. Let’s just say, some did not grow up with the creative gene. Then, our translator, Herman, walked with us to the University of Arusha to see if we can host a seminar. Lucky for us, their outreach coordinator, Professor Mussa, was happy to meet with us. Turns out in 2012 he spent 8 months at a college in Michigan where he explained, “Americans know two things. 1) Volunteering 2) Customer Care.” After describing our seminars about the prevention of HIV, he also encouraged us to share with students how Americans in particular are fighting this issue. Professor Mussa believed that we would become even more credible if we were to take that approach, which I had never thought about.

In the hot African sun, we then took to the streets where we put up our posters and explored the local villages. On our walk, Herman was shocked to find out that Americans genetically modify food and that I, in fact, was single. It always fascinates me to think about how different their way of life is in comparison to ours. Anyways, on our travels, we asked local businesses to put up our posters and most were incredibly accepting of our seminars and free testing day on Thursday at the UAACC. One man, Ezequiel, was very excited to tell all of the youth in the area about our work, so fingers crossed we’ll have many people coming to get tested.

Overall, the day was really encouraging! Later that night, we enjoyed some dinner made by our wonderful cooks and Brenna eloquently read aloud “Joe Jonas: My Life as a Jonas Brother.” Some would say it was rather eye opening, while others, mainly Dylan Sprouse, argue differently. The debate lives on.

We’re off to bed!

Lala Salama,

Marge

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Day 5: No Showers, No Problems

And so it begins!

Hello again from Tanzania!  It may have taken a little under a day to reach our destination, but it was well worth it.  The Tanzanian people are warm and welcoming, while the scenery is lush and absolutely beautiful.  On our first day, we acclimated to the eight hour time difference and came to know the grounds of the UAACC well.  Nearly every surface of the compound is covered in beautiful murals or wonderfully peaceful quotes. We then took a stroll around to see some of the surrounding villages, and got to know our lovely translators better. We ended the day by playing with the kids that live in the UAACC and watching a PBS documentary on our fascinating hosts, Charlotte and Pete O’Neal. Today we woke up early and were driven to the Moshi region (in the foothills of Kilimanjaro) where we went on a coffee tour and waterfall hike.  We learned first-hand how to make coffee by hand (a surprisingly involved task).  After getting hyped up on caffeine we took a 30 minute hike to a breathtaking waterfall, where we ate lunch and swam around a bit.Currently we are relaxing at the UAACC after a delicious dinner, and preparing to begin advertising our seminars tomorrow!

From, Mary Kate

Makin’ Money in the Rain

Members and even non-members (SHOUT OUT: Katie, Mark, and Sutton) generously donated their time to raise money for our trip to Tanz! This past week, the School of Education held a fundraiser for Literacy for Life and needed students such as ourselves to direct people to parking. As we all know, William and Mary works tirelessly to take even more of our money through parking tickets.

Of course as luck would have it, it was one of the coldest and rainiest days this fall. Receiving a generous donation of $200 going towards our trip was a worthy reward, though.

In-country costs HAVE BEEN COVERED!! YAY, but the fundraising does not stop there.

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Stay tuned for more,

Marge

 

Summer in Tanz with Casey

Our New Member, Casey, traveled to Tanzania this summer for the first time. We are so proud of her amazing volunteer work and we are grateful to call her a member of our team!

I was so incredibly lucky to have the chance to spend a month in Tanzania, volunteering with Cross Cultural Solutions in Moshi, which is an hour outside of Arusha, nestled in the shadow of Kilimanjaro. I spent my time at the Magereza nursery school, with 64 incredible kids. How can I sum up an entire month into a few sentences? How do I portray how I feel about this amazing country in a paragraph? I came into this trip selfishly, I only thought about how the kids and the people would affect me. I didn’t think I would have any impact on their education or influence them in a lasting way. Magereza is the cheapest nursery school around so the kids come from a variety of backgrounds. But these kids didn’t need sympathy, they didn’t need pity, they just wanted to be kids. They wanted to be loved. And even if I was a terrible teacher, I could provide that love for them. After a week at the Magereza Nursery School, I knew I would remember each one of these kids for the rest of my life. After a week in Tanzania, all my selfish ideas about my trip had been thrown out. I wanted to have a real impact on their education, even if it was just to give them a sense of confidence in the classroom. I saw the quieter kids shed their shy exterior and begin to answer questions in class and even solve difficult math problems. I hadn’t realized that my short volunteer trip would have a lasting impact on the children.  These kids rely on volunteers to provide their education, and I learned that my group’s mission to  instill confidence in them greatly impacts them in ways I didn’t think it would. The purpose of my trip changed, it wasn’t for me, it was for these kids. And as I go through my life I know that this experience with these kids will always be in the back of my mind. But one of the most uplifting parts of this trip is knowing that I am lucky enough to go back and keep a relationship with this incredible country.  

—Casey

Just Casey changing some lives. No biggie.

Just Casey changing some lives. No biggie.

Condoms Condoms Condoms!

Thanks to our impressive new member, Hannah Cho, and her dedication to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, the Fan Free Clinic in Richmond, Virginia donated over 400 condoms for us to send abroad. One of our new initiatives entails sending condoms throughout the year, rather than just bringing them during our winter trip. Image

It has been a busy year preparing for the upcoming trip, which I know will be right around the corner. While we lost some wonderful, mostly dedicated seniors (jokes), we have some brilliant, out of the box thinking new members and I feel confident in their ability to help us take our efforts to the next level.

Look out for our upcoming fundraisers in the fall. We’ll be bringing back the candied apples, more hamburger cupcakes, and we’re stepping up our game with some new events!

-Marge

Thoughts: Back in the US

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I get back to the states. We have so much- I have been given every essential my life ever required, plus a lot more, taken for granted that all of my needs are met comfortably and without the sacrifice of those immediately around me. Every time I return to Africa I revel in the contented nature of daily life. In the United States, during my daily life as a student, somehow there is some power urging me to compete, to create efficiency, to be the best. I buy things because I can. Get a latte without considering where the 12 oz. of milk originated, much less stopped to wonder at the options- do I want skim? 2%? Whole milk or soy milk? What about sugar? Syrup? Flavorings? Sugarfree?

In Tanzania, I feel like you know where that milk came from- because its source is staring you straight in the face when you buy it from the market. You kind of humbly want to …shake that cows hand (pardon me, hoof), or show it some offering of mutual respect for providing you with something to put in your coffee.

But in all seriousness, I want to explore this feeling I get when I am in Africa. The blessedness. The respect that everyone has for one another. The time that I take to stop and revel at the way light hits the gravel road. Why is it that here I am I so much more inclined to smile, stop to talk to someone on my way to do an errand? How can we learn from the community of Imbaseni, to better our programs, and create sustainable change? There is so much that I want to better understand about the daily lives of people we met on the trip…

To me, AIDSTanzania is not just about HIV and prevention, it is about the health of the entire community we visit. More and more I feel that we need to develop discussion among mothers, youth, students—people who maintain and grow the structure of the community. There is so much to do, but here they say “pole, pole…” (Slow, slow…) …. In any case, I hope I have done something to help at least one person in Imbaseni, I certainly know I have been changed for the better.

–Marigene

"Pole, Pole" : Imbaseni kids waiting for their turn to get water

Journal Entry

1/5/2012

Another productive and exciting day!

Today we walked through the Imbaseini Village and, with the help of our friendly translators Herman and Peter, informed people about our upcoming HIV/AIDS workshops. Lots of people took the time to read our poster and listen, so hopefully there’s a big turnout tomorrow! Our main stop seemed to be in a market not too far outside of the UAACC. There was so much activity: children playing, women selling all sorts of fruits and vegetables and meats, men talking and laughing together.  It had a real community feel to it which was really refreshing.

Next week, we are holding a woman’s day where we talk about HIV/AIDS topics that might be more important to women like how to have a safe pregnancy even if your HIV positive and stigmas associated with HIV/AIDS.  Many of the women seemed to be interested in attending that workshop so it might be something we want to continue doing or even extend over a couple of days next time.

I’m a little nervous for our first workshop but I have a good feeling about it!

– Carrie

Carrie working on a poster for the workshops

Reflections

Going on the trip has changed how I look at this group and everything that we’ve been doing. Walking through the village, seeing people’s homes, hearing their concerns just enforces the feelings I had coming into this group that we are doing good work.

The thing I was most pleased with out of the whole week was when a man came in and said that he would love to hold discussions like the ones we were leading. We left them with copies of all our notes, and everything that we said in the presentations. I think that the best way for us to leave a lasting change given our limited resources is to inspire people in Tanzania to educate themselves and each other.

Finally, if I learned one thing this trip its that you can never trust a dog with dreads.

–Danny B.

Our unofficial trip mascot -- "Dread Dog"

We’re back!

The AIDSTanzania team spent a fantastic week and half living at the United African Alliance Community Center in the Imbaseni Village outside of Arusha. During our time there, we held HIV/AIDS workshops for women, men, and children, and sponsored a free HIV testing day. Overall, it was a huge success; many members of the community were able to come into the Center and get tested, ask questions, and even participate in some fun music and dancing afterward. We made lots of friends in the Imbaseni village, and had some experiences I’m sure none of us will ever forget.

Over the next few weeks, each of our team members who went on the trip will be posting a short personal reflection of their time in Tanzania, so keep checking back for more updates!

A fun group shot from one of our walks in the village. Clearly there are some goofballs on the ATZ team!

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