In January I’ll be moving to Africa. Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania, to be specific.
Yes, I’m moving somewhere I can’t even pronounce. But I couldn’t be more excited.
Okay…I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little nervous. But it’s definitely like 90% excited, 10% nervous.
I’ve always said I like change, so this should be right up my alley.
Where I’ll Be Working
I have a 1-year contract with the Red Sweater Project, a non-profit organization that collaborates with communities to bring education to children who wouldn’t receive it otherwise.
Most children in Tanzania attend primary school. It’s free, unlike secondary school, which is too expensive to be within reach. Instead older children stay home and work, losing hope that they can achieve any other option. Girls are married off at 14 and start having babies. They grow up thinking they’re not smart enough, or good enough to do anything else.
The Red Sweater Project’s goal is to overcome these hurdles. They have built two schools that makes going to school affordable. And they not only teach children basic subjects like reading and math, but also the idea they can be anything they want to be; and that girls are just as smart and valued as boys.
From what I have heard, these children are extremely grateful to learn. And because most of them haven’t been more than a couple miles outside their village, there are so many things they are being exposed to for the very first time. That is the part I’m excited about. To see the kids be exposed to new thoughts and ideas and to see pictures of things they may have not have known existed.
Watch this video to see more:
What I’ll be doing
I’ll be working as the Office Manager at one of the schools. This role will be “a little bit of everything.” Operations, finances, marketing, administration, working with donors and volunteers, and I’m sure lending a hand for any multitude of things that come up when running a school in a rural village. Oh, no electricity today?
Where I’ll Be Living
The organization has a house where we’ll live. From what I’ve been told, it’s a real house, and nice by local standards. I really have no idea what to expect, but I do know there will be a real shower and western toilets—so that’s a bonus!
It’s Only October, What Now?
I have about a month left at my current job in San Diego. I let them know far in advance, which I was a little nervous about, but has worked out. It has also been a challenge to stay focused. Typically when you put in your resignation, usually you only have 2-3 weeks, so naturally people start checking out pretty quickly. In this case, I still had three months; so checking out wasn’t an option. So far I’ve managed to maintain the same work ethic-but there have been days where I needed to dig deep to do it.
My last day is on November 8, and then I have three weeks to pack up my stuff and enjoy my last days in San Diego. My stuff will go into storage, and I’ll go to Dallas to spend some time with friends & family for the holidays.
After Christmas, I’ll head abroad to spend a couple weeks traveling somewhere before I start work. Destination unknown, but will be choosing somewhere that isn’t freezing in January, and have relatively easy access to Tanzania. Options will be limited.
After taking a hiatus from traveling, I am eager to get back out there. A benefit of working at a school is school holidays! While you’ll get plenty of information on Tanzania next year, I also want to bring you guys some great stories and travel tips from other destinations. Where? I’m not sure yet. But with Tanzania as a base, I will likely be headed to some less traveled locations. In addition, since I already have lots of travel experience under my belt, I’ll revisit some of my past experiences. I’ll let you know what it was like to do my first long-term solo trip. How I initially took a sabbatical, what lessons I learned, and how I’ll apply those to how I’ll travel in the future. Hopefully you can learn a little from my experience.
Have you ever worked in a rural third world country? How was your experience? Feel free to share some advice and tidbits on a few things you didn’t expect!