The goodbyes to family, friends, and especially my dogs were (as always) a bit sad, but I am now so happy to say that after about 24 hours of travel, I finally made it to Arusha, Tanzania! My flights over went smoothly, and luckily all of my bags made it here in one piece. It was wonderful driving from the airport to Arusha, as it brought back so many wonderful memories from two summers ago when I was here!
Friday morning, Meghann and I went on a nice and hilly run, which was good because getting adjusted to the terrain and altitude helped prepare me for the race on Sunday. During the day on Friday, I joined TFFT Team Members, Chloe, Hedwiga, Melissa, and Ken for a meeting they had with education coordinators from around the Arusha area. In the meeting, each Team Member presented the program they are in charge of, as well as discussed dates and actions for improving their programs this year.
On Sunday, Meghann, Uswege, and I woke up at 4:15am to make the drive to the town of Moshi where Mt. Kilimanjaro is! We got to the Ushirika Stadium with about an hour to stretch and get our minds set for the big race ahead of us. Needless to say, the half-marathon was one of the coolest things I have ever done. It wasn’t easy, but was most definitely worth it. The first half of the race was spent running uphill with beautiful views and many villagers cheering us on. We even ran a bit of this part of the race on dirt trails with the lush trees surrounding us. The second half of the race was spent going downhill, which was nice after spending so much time running uphill! The last 7km was probably the most difficult part of the race for me, as my muscles were aching and my legs were wearing on me. However, I forced myself to keep a positive mindset, and to keep telling myself, “It doesn’t hurt” and “You can do it.” And… I finished! I felt very proud to finish the race, but even more proud to be supporting TFFT’s efforts while running.
After the race the TFFT Team went on a hike to the Marangu Waterfall, where we relaxed and enjoyed some snacks for the afternoon. It felt so good to “ice” our muscles in the pools of the waterfall, and the site was just stunning!
Today, I will be moving into the Matonyok Parents’ Trust Orphanage, and I could not be more excited. Two summers ago, I spent three weeks living there, and fell in love with the children and lifestyle. There is something about the genuine, grounded, and loving atmosphere at Matonyok that has taken my heart. Part of my job there will be to help assist class and tend to the daily chores around the orphanage with the children! I can’t put to words my excitement to see the children again, as I know they have grown to be even more amazing and inspiring individuals.