Our three week expedition to Tanzania this past summer was the culmination of two years’ hard work. Fourteen Surbiton High School students, together with Mrs McCool and Mr Humphreys, had been making preparations to build a library for the Kilimanjaro Young Girls in Need (KYGN) School in Tanzania, which involved raising over £8000 and cataloguing 1000 books, among other things.
The group were abuzz with excitement and anticipation – and perhaps a little apprehension – when we finally departed for Tanzania at the start of the summer holidays, flying in via Abu Dhabi and Nairobi.
The three week long trip started off with a week at the KYGN School, which was a deeply affecting and life-changing experience for the group. It was truly humbling to see these remarkable young Tanzanian children, who lived in poverty and came from troubled backgrounds, always have a smile on their face. This redoubled our determination to make a very real difference to their lives, in the shape of both the library itself and everything else we hoped to do for them.
The girls duly excelled themselves in all they did at the School, not least when they were unexpectedly called upon to do some teaching. The younger children could not speak very much English, so teaching them was particularly challenging, but they came through it!
Undoubtedly, the library itself was the group’s most tangible achievement, and the KYGN children were very excited when we opened the library to them, browsing and borrowing the books with uncontained enthusiasm. It was a reminder that simple things that we take for granted make a very real difference to the lives of those who are less fortunate than us, and that we should never take our own libraries for granted.
It was difficult to leave KYGN, but the remainder of our trip was also highly enjoyable, with highlights including a tour of Tanzania’s famous Northern Safari circuit – where we spotted lots of beautiful wildlife in stunning surroundings – and a three day trek through the Usambara Mountains. These aspects of the expedition posed challenges of their own, such as getting lost in dense rainforest and finding ourselves under attack by a nest of angry ants, and once again the group rose above them.
The girls conducted themselves in an exemplary manner throughout the three weeks, and should be proud of all they learned and achieved. Special thanks go to our trip leader, Richard, and to Wilderness Expertise for helping make this expedition a truly memorable experience. We would also like to thank all members of the Surbiton High School community who have contributed to this expedition in ways great and small. Our work at the KYGN School has only just begun, and we hope to return again in the future. Watch this space!