Guest post by Kathryn Gearheard, 2017 Learning Trip Participant
Though my expectations for my African Road Learning trip were high, they were fulfilled the first day we were in Dar es Salaam. Little did I know how much those expectations would be exceeded again and again.
I told my family that what I wanted to do most was stand in front of the New Hope for Girls family home and to know that what I’d heard about Mama Consoler’s work rescuing girls from modern slavery was real and successful. And there I was about to go in the door to meet all these lively, confident and happy young ladies. 34 girls ages 8-23…dream fulfilled. Everything else was a bonus.
We’d already had lunch at the Elimika Women’s Cooperative Corner Cafe where the food was real Tanzanian food, both tasty and pretty and we’d carried on more than an hour of good old-fashioned women’s chatter with about a dozen ladies from the mighty successful savings group and cooperative. It was a gift that we were able to talk and talk, even when half of us spoke only English and the other half spoke only Swahili. Every day on the Learning Trip, we were given the gift of such heart-warming and encouraging experiences.
Before I left Portland, my friend Marcia from Aquafit Class asked her 16 year old grandson Will and his soccer team to gather some things for me to take to the boys soccer team at the Togetherness Cooperative in Kigali. Thanks to these boys in Portland, I arrived with one huge suitcase full of shoes, shirts, deflated soccer balls and a brand-new pump.
The Togetherness youth threw a big welcome party for us. Our host and African Road partner, Pastor Steven, the kind leader of the cooperative of 142 kids and young people, arranged for some of the soccer playing boys to come wearing all their new gear. The picture tells the story of my joy. Teens in Oregon connecting with teens in Rwanda to bring joy!
I often hear that the African Road Learning trip is a life changing experience and with that I totally agree. Even beyond that I found the trip to be an evolution in my life, giving me a new plane for understanding what people can do for themselves and others when they work together.
African Road does such good work making more fulfilled lives in both Africa and also more fulfilled lives amongst its supporters.
I’ve always believed in African Road based on what I’ve learned at the Story Share gatherings and the Learning Stations at the Gala. But to have the experience “on the ground” made me absolutely delighted to be an African Road supporter in every way I can. Being able to visit Africa this way is the best travel experience of my life.
Kathryn has traveled to over 100 countries. Her travel experiences include a camel caravan in the Sahara and swimming in the Ganges River in India. African Road is deeply honored to know that this experience was so meaningful for Kathryn.