Not many school trips can be labelled as life changing. Greenfield Community School’s (GCS) annual service trip to Tanzania, however, continues to impact the lives of all involved. For the past five years, GCS has been sending a group of secondary students to Tanzania to help build schools and volunteer in the local community.
Since 2014 our students, in partnership with World Challenge, have been visiting Mguhu Primary School located in a rural area 500 kilometers from Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. The students, in Grades 8 & 9, spend the first part of the two week long trip working on the Mguhu School. They are responsible for managing and planning their own resources and meals, helping teach local students, and constructing classrooms for the overcrowded primary school. During the second stage of their trip the students are responsible for organizing and leading a camping expedition into the local wilderness. The experience can be an intense one and something our students will remember for the rest of their lives.
“Two weeks of no electronics, computers or communication with the outside world led to two weeks of learning about myself,” says Bryle Andre Noddings a current Grade 10 student at GCS who went on the trip last year.
The rural school is located 12 kilometres from the nearest city, Iringa. One of the main challenges Mguhu School faces is how difficult it is for teachers to reach the remote loaction, this results in overcrowded classrooms of 50 students each. The work that GCS students do in building new classrooms and donating supplies is invaluable to the local community. They also get a taste of what life is like for the locals.
“It was the first time I had seen such green countryside and to experience a different lifestyle,” says Dayem Chughtai, Grade 10, “We didn’t sleep in beds. We slept on the floor in tents or in classrooms. We carried buckets of water from the well like the locals did. If we needed to use the bathroom we dug a hole!”
During the trip, students are asked to be responsible for their own budgeting, planning, shopping and cooking. GCS students, Dayem and Bryle, remember how just one student in their group knew how to cook when they went last year but by the end of the trip they all had learned!
Many students go on this trip thinking they will be the ones to make an impact, but soon realize that they are the ones learning the most from the experience and the locals they meet on the trip.
“For me, it was a life changing experience. I realized just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful city as Dubai, to have food and shelter. Many people in the world have to struggle to get the basics in life. Even with everything we have here it is difficult to make people in Dubai happy. The people we met in Tanzania were happy, even with the smallest things in life.” Bryle Andre Noddings, Grade 10, GCS.
Contributed by: Jewelia Dakin
Greenfield Community School