Shelby here – it’s been a while since I’ve posted and I am excited to share my recent trip to Tanzania. I’ll share various photos and stories over a series of blogposts this week.
Experiencing a new country is why we travel, but having an experience that changes who you are as a person is extraordinary – and that is how Zach and I felt after returning from Tanzania.
Zach’s fellow teacher and friend, Jeff, invited us to join him in Tanzania this summer (Jeff has visited every summer for the past few years). We stayed at Rolina Orphanage in a town called KwaSadala at the area at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Octavian (in the photo with Zach below) grew up at Rolina; he was our constant companion and friend while we were there. Everyone calls him “Zawadi,” which means gift in Swahili.
Rosmin and Paulina have taken in kids that are in need of family and a safe place to stay for 17 years. (Rosmin + Paulina is how their home became “Rolina”). They estimate they have had over 500 kids pass through their home over the years and when we were visiting there were about 30 kids ranging in age from 4 to 20 years old. The kids were the most incredible part of this trip. They have nowhere near as much as the typical kid in America but they are the happiest kids I have ever met. They are filled with joy. They sing all the time and they have beautiful voices. They loved playing jokes on Zach and Jeff and spent hours teaching me how to say words in Swahili.
Most of our days were spent playing with these beautiful kids.
Paulina, the matriarch at Rolina, is one of my new favorite people in the world. Even though we could barely communicate (my Swahili is not great!) we would spend time grabbing hands and laughing and smiling at certain points throughout the day. Paulina made these wonderful African donuts called Mondazi and she would appear with one and hand it to me and smile. The photo below is after she picked out African fabrics for me to wear.
One of my favorite days was when we took all the kids to a hot spring swimming hole called Chemka. It was so fun to see everyone – even the most shy little girls – splashing around in the water!
Every Sunday we went to church and the children sang and Rosmin and Paulina shared wonderful sermons.
Rosmin and Paulina and Octavian and all the wonderful people we met at Rolina are now like our Tanzanian family, and we can’t wait to go back and visit our family soon!
More on Tanzania tomorrow!