End of a journey

August 31st, 2017


The days are now numbered. It’s August 31. The volunteers will be leaving on the first, as well as some of the team leaders. Other volunteers, whose assignments have ended, will leave on the fourth of September. I’ll stay in the country another ten days meeting up with a friend and traveling around to more touristy sites. I’m looking forward to it.

Right now, it’s 5:30 in the morning. I got up an hour ago and finding it impossible to sleep started working on photos and finally writing up this draft for my blog. It has been difficult to post while traveling. I have kept notes and will post more about the journey over the next couple of months. There is a lot to go over and a lot to digest. I’m glad I have the photos to jog my memory.

The last couple of days I have been going through every photo, making sure it is the right size, has been processed properly, attributed correctly and posted in the right place. That job is not yet done. I have also been working on slide shows for the returning teams. That had to be finished yesterday. I would love to have given it more time, but that may always be the case for any project with a deadline.

I love the people I have met. It has felt so much like a mash unit, living in rural villages, thrown together in ways you would never usually encounter. Grasiano, Sam and I were in a car for over two weeks. There is a quiet bond we sealed in the last few days on the road. After staying in hotels that were far from perfect, gathering at ceremonies, being too cold, too hot, crowded in the car for sometimes 8 hours a day, and celebrating people and places we may never see again, we are connected. I have a photo of the 3 of us that is my favorite from the summer. Sam had it printed with the help of the Logs (logistics) group, and it sits on my desk in the office at field base for now. It will come with me along with my second (the photo was the first) birthday present. I got it yesterday. It’s a small carved plaque of baobab tree and the Swahili word (Choo) toilet. I had mentioned I wanted one for my toilet at home and the Logs team got it for me. For now, it too is on my desk.

The is so much more I can say about both the villagers and the Raleigh team, but it will have to be written over time. I need to reflect on the connections made and find a precise and accurate way of describing some of the people who have touched me in profound ways and who will forever be with me in my thoughts.

Yesterday, as the groups came back for debriefing and regrouping before they leave the country, I was moved by how many people I have gotten to know. I had an extended time in Mtlili and Sawala with Echos 5 and 6. Every one of those volunteers will forever be friends.

It’s now 6:00 and I need to get up and get to the office. I don’t know if I will go out to the different location where the groups are reconvening or if I will stay at Field base. I must assume for now I will travel, even if it is still in Morogoro it will happen quickly and on a different schedule than mine.

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