Myself and 4 other medical students visited the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania in Summer 2014 as part of our medical elective. Although we were based mainly at a local district general Hospital in the nearby town of Moshi, we were very keen to get involved in local community projects and see all that Tanzania had to offer!
A very good friend of Arise school, Pauline, introduced us to Frank shortly after arriving in the area and it soon became clear to us what a great place Arise School was! On our first Saturday morning in Tanzania, we got up at a very early hour and sleepily-eyed took a trip by bus, eventually arriving at the school for their Saturday summer school! Within minutes, and after initial apprehension from both us and the children(!), we were fully immersed in games and songs. We had the most amazing morning! We tried to teach the children some English songs, although they seemed to know some of the traditional songs better than we did! I was astounded by how good their English was! We also had a tour of the school which was just enlightening, seeing the great facilities and grounds of the school. We all said how we would have liked to have been a pupil at Arise if we were children again!
Following our first experience, we were very enthusiastic to go back to Arise and went to another Saturday morning summer school a couple of weeks later. We were thrilled to be greeted by what must have been at least 100 smiling children of all ages! It was so overwhelming! We had planned some activities for the children – although these became rather challenging with so many children, especially during an ‘egg-and-spoon’ like race! It was mayhem, but we all loved every second! It was safe to say we all needed an early night following that morning!
We loved the school and area so much we decided to hold a medical dispensary there in our spare time from the hospital. We had fundraised some money in the UK and decided we would very much like to contribute some to the local area. Frank very kindly arranged this for us, including medical practitioners who came for the day. We were overwhelmed by the amount of local people who attended the dispensary. It became clear by lunchtime that it was going to be impossible to see them all, something that was very disappointing to us. We tried to overcome this by hiring an extra doctor for the afternoon but even this was not enough to allow everyone to be seen. Disheartened and tired, by the end of the day we all agreed that a second day of the dispensary must happen, despite limited time and resources. Thankfully, we were able to arrange a second dispensary and see all the local citizens who we had been unable to see on the first day.
It was with heavy hearts that we had to leave Arise school when our hospital placement ended and return to the UK (via Zanzibar!). I decided I would like to continue my support to the school by sponsoring a pupil. As I couldn’t be there physically anymore it was the next best step in my eyes! The only problem was that there were so many worthy causes at the school it was impossibly difficult to decide who to sponsor. Pauline advised me to go with my heart with regards to who I had felt I had the best bond with. Following this advice, I decided to sponsor a little girl called Joy who I had spent a significant amount of time with and felt I had got on really well with! Like so many other children, she had had a significantly difficult home life. Seeing her blossom at Arise was uplifting. I knew attending the school could only bring good things for her! Ron and Sue’s regular updates regarding the school and how Joy is getting on always make me smile!
I would love to return to Arise school one day. It really is such an amazing place and worthwhile cause!