Lounging by a pool under clear blue skies, umbrella drink in hand, picturesque palm trees swaying gently in the breeze… sounds nice, but that wasn’t actually the case for Nancy Rowe on her last vacation. Photos from Nancy Rowe
“What started out as a vacation became a mission,” said the Delta resident.
Rowe took the trip last February. She went for two weeks on a safari group with 20 people, including her daughter, Cassie Rowe, who lives in San Francisco. Also on the trip were Cassie’s friend, Rachel Bower, and her mother, Linda Bower.
The trip was organized through Wild Kingdom Safaris, a California-based company. The owner, Jeremy Lowney, also bases part of the company in Tanzania, where he used to be a missionary. Since opening Wild Kingdom, he’s implemented a program where he will take vacationers from the U.S. on an African safari, provided they dedicate three or four days to help Tanzanian villagers and do some missionary work. Lowney works with an American couple who operate the Mission, a Christian-based orphanage and educational and training base for pre-school and primary school Tanzanian children.
Rowe’s trip was two fold. One part was experiencing an amazing African safari. The trip began in Arusha. Her very ﬁrst day there, Rowe saw some amazing animals in their natural habitat, some, that to most people here, can only be seen on TV or in books. She saw elephants, giraffes, storks, ostriches, baboons, hyenas, jackals and more.
She spent two days in Lake Manyara, where she saw warthogs, zebras and impalas. She saw wildebeests in migration in the Serengeti. On her journey, she also visited Tarangire National Park, Mt. Kilimangaro, where the group spent a day hiking, Zanzibar, and Ngorongoro Crater, which is a crater created from a volcano that houses animals that live in the unique ecosystem. She also took a hot air balloon ride across the Serengeti.
During one of the day trips, while the group was stopped at a rest area, Rowe watched a monkey climb on top of the jeep she was riding in, climb inside, take a juice box out of a box lunch, and climb up a nearby tree to drink his juice. On the last day of her trip, Rowe saw a leopard in a tree with a kill.
Some of the animals were kind of aggressive, she said. It wasn’t uncommon to see lions, zebras, giraffes and others come right up to the jeeps.
The second aspect of the trip was experiencing life in Africa. The Bowers are friends of Lowney’s, and so because of that connection, Rowe and her daughter got to experience many things regular tour groups don’t get to do.
One evening, Lowney took the group to a village about 20 miles west of Arusha, where friends of his, the Ngurdoto family, lived. The villagers, unaccustomed to Americans, pulled out all the stops. Village elders and the tribal chief came. The father of the Ngurdotos made two 10-mile trips on a bicycle to a neighboring village to buy bottled sodas for all his guests.
“It was quite a to-do,” Rowe said.
The group also visited the Maasai village, which is more of a tourist trap kind of place. Villagers there were used to visitors. Group members were able to go into the homes of some of the villagers and see how they lived. Villagers showcased some of their dances for the visitors. People hawk their wares up and down the street, doing all they can to cajole a tourist into buying something.
Rowe, a second grade teacher at Garnet Mesa Elementary School, wanted to buy the students in her class a treat. She was able to haggle with a merchant, and bought 22 bracelets for her students for $25. The bracelets were made from coffee beans strung on thin wire.
The most memorable part of Rowe’s trip, though, was observing the people, how they lived, and the circumstances they ﬁnd themselves in.
“They have nothing,” she said. She remembers coming home and going back to school and thinking that kids in America should be thankful they even had shoes; many of the kids Rowe saw in Africa didn’t have any.
People live in mud and stick homes with dirt ﬂoors. “We call those shacks,” she said. In the villages, one family member’s responsibility each day is to get water, which involves walking or riding a bike for many miles to bring back a few gallons of water.
As a teacher, Rowe has grown accustomed to interacting with children. But in Africa, she had a hard time even speaking to some of the kids. “It was so sad,” she said. “They really had nothing.”
“It was a real rude awakening for me,” she said. The people there live very simply, she said, but everyone is happy. “They are always smiling, always willing to help.”
Rowe said there is a big push right now in Africa to get children educated. People there feel if the next generation can be educated, they will come back and work in their communities and help make life better. Unfortunately, only wealthy families are able to send their children to school; students have to pay for tuition, supplies and uniforms. Most students only attend school until 13.
After primary and secondary school, lucky students go on to University, a two year higher education that costs about $1,000 a semester. Cassie plans to sponsor a girl to go to University until she graduates.
At the mission, where the group donated time at the end of their vacation, Rowe taught in a one room school. Students were between six and 14 years old. She taught the younger students how to use a ruler. As a group, she and the students made a book, too.
“It was really neat,” Rowe said of her experience. “It was quite an experience.” blog comments powered by Disqus