As well as completing the construction of our two rainwater harvesting systems, we were given the opportunity to get involved with the livelihood projects, which meant that we were able to have a closer interaction with the local villagers. This definitely enhanced my experience, as I was able to see villagers in their home environments, and learn and witness how they actually live, and how the solar panels and energy efficient stoves were going to benefit them. And it was especially touching to see them getting excited to use their new resources. As we learnt in the CPA on the first day, the locals all want to better themselves but they physically do not have the means or the resources to. Knowing that these projects are not just short term solutions for the families definitely made us feel like a difference is being made to these people′s lives.
On our trip, we witnessed the high levels of deforestation taking place in Tanzania. We regularly travelled past areas of land which were black from being burned, and twice witnessed wildfires which were set off by people. For this reason, the environmental training workshop we provided to the locals about the important of trees was so relevant, and we could only hope that they would understand the consequences of their actions and that they would change their habits in order to improve their local environment. We followed this by planting fruit trees behind the school, which would bring so much more than just mango or papaya.
We spent the final day of our mission in the Eco Village, learning about how the 30-acre land is maintained and kept sustainable. After learning about how trees bring water to the surface of land in our deforestation training session, it was incredible to see how a small stream had actually started to form here as a result of the trees being planted and kept there. I found the whole concept of the Eco Village fascinating and amazed by the ability to keep such a place sustainable – it was a beautiful area to see too.
Living within the Village were 10 orphan girls, who we spent the day with as the girls from Islamic Help′s Cordoba School also visited. It was a morning filled with laughter and games, a bouncy castle, balloons, glow sticks and a piñata. We gave the girls, mother and aunty gifts and toys, and in return, the girls said they had nothing to give other than a goodbye song and a promise to keep us in their prayers – which is all could have asked for.
The Mission in Matandu was an eye opener. From the training sessions we attended in Birmingham before we left, we learnt about deforestation and habits that occur in Tanzania, which have a devastating effect on the country′s climate, we were able to witness the deforestation happening. But projects such as providing energy efficient stoves, and providing education about the effects of deforestation and planting trees is the first step to making a change in this area. While we were out there, we learned quickly that we needed to think on the spot, using limited tools and resources, and the need to improvise to get things done.
Education is a massive component of Mission Possible, not just formal education (which from our time here, seems to be something the local school lacks despite the locals believing strongly in providing children with a good education), but about us volunteers learning about life problems that are faced on a daily basis here, and teaching the locals about how they can make small changes using the limited resources they have to make a difference to their local community. Words cannot do justice to the work that Mission Possible aims to achieve, but the memories of being involved in these projects will stay with me for a long time!
Undertaking this Mission at a point in my life where a lot is changing (I′ve now finished full-time education and starting a 9-5 job!) I felt this was the perfect stepping stone for me to base my outlook on work and life on. I know that something in my mindset has changed, and I feel different now that I′m back, but it is so difficult to explain what it is that has changed, the only way to understand it is to take part in Mission Possible.
Applications for 2016 deployments are open!