Monday, November 2, 2020

Rudisha Foundation's Water Project

"Somewhere along the way, we must learn that there is nothing greater than to do something for others." - Martin Luther King


The Rudisha Foundation has two main goals; to support the children in the foundation, by covering school fee costs & to help schools that require assistance in improving their services to the children. All of the school projects to date would not be possible without support from Elmwood Brant St.John's & St. Peter's Lutheran Parishes. We are most grateful for their continued support and a constant message from the teachers, children and their families is - Mungu awabariki nyote - which translates to "god blesses you all". 

We will soon sit down and chart out the next school projects to work on, but before doing so I wanted to share the great work that was done earlier this year at Mtakuja School. My mother-in-law and co-founder of the foundation, Martha, manages and oversees the projects so it's fitting that I share the emails she sends to me for this blog. 

If you are wondering how you can help support this cause I would be happy to discuss with you. Please send an email to astrowbridge@tpi.ca for any questions 😀

"Every time I go the kids just swarm the gari (truck) knowing I like to swing! 
They are so grateful for those swings!" We were fixing the original swing set that day and even the fundis (workers) wanted to swing. 

Martha (Mama Msuya) & Riziki, the headmaster of Mtakuja school


"There is more happiness in giving than in receiving." Acts 20:35

"Finally we could get started January 5th at Mtajuka School. My head fundi, Jakobu (head bldg. manager) lines up the fundis, buys the materials and holds the money once we agree on each estimate. He and the fundi travelled down that terrible washed out road, 17 kms with flooded Bajaj's (tuk tuks) to look at what needed to be done. He said the road was so flooded with motorcycles slipping & falling. It would take three stages and three estimates with several days labour and travel to complete. He would have to purchase; connectors, pipes, elbows, sockets, nipples, seals valves. He read them 'Maji Installation in Washrooms & Hand Washing' - they understood what needed to be done".

"First step was digging the trenches to each of the 14 toilet rooms, also a trench from the huge water tank, laying of the pipes and connecting them. A track in the cement wall of each toilet room for the pipe leading to the tap, this had to be pounded out. The head fundi brings along his two helpers, the meals and sleeping arrangements are on him. Jakobu’s sister Gertrude, who lives near Mtakuja school, volunteered her extra room for sleeping quarters for the fundis. Thanks to Gertrud! There’s no motel in Mtakuja, ha ha!! Just baobab trees, ditches lined with thorns and small buildings & goats walking ahead of you on the road, as you try to drive around the potholes, slowly. No water yet!"

"The second stage, estimate written on Jan 21st had more elbows, sockets, valves & seals, to build the long sink outside, a distance from the toilets. This was going to take 100 cement bricks, 4 bags cement & wire etc. plus three days’ work!"

"It had to be built high enough off the ground so the Maasai cattle wouldn’t be able to drink water from it – so the headmistress told the fundis. There’s no fence around this school yet and on weekends the herders/shepherds bring in their cattle – this is very disturbing to Riziki, the headmistress of the school who unsuccessfully tries to plant flowers and greenery outside the classrooms. The cattle strip the flowers in no time at all! Still no running water - the cement has to dry properly first!”

Third step was connecting & installing the six hand washing taps in the long sink and open the main water supply. Running water, finally!


 "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" - Gandhi 

"Today Jakobu took these pails down to the Mtakuja school for the washrooms, some are used paint pails. I bought ten one litre for the smaller kids, that’s the size they wanted. The toilet taps are no good without a container to rinse down what you left, heh??? Riziki says that her "environment" teacher will show the kids what to do and how to 'flush' with the pails." 

"Truly great people in history never wanted to be great for themselves. All they wanted was the chance to do good for others and be close to God." - Muhammed Ali

Monday, October 26, 2020

Travelling to Tanzania during COVID-19

As an International Travel Specialist and ambassador of travel, I made the leap to return to Tanzania for a couple months with my husband, Moses. Tanzania has been open to tourism since mid-July 2020 and being a country in which I specialize, I wanted to experience first hand the travel changes in place for COVID-19.  

I booked our tickets with KLM and we departed from Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Ontario on October 14, 2020. Policies are constantly changing these days but we were required to have a negative Covid-19 test for boarding. Since arriving, the policy has changed, a PCR test is no longer required if travelling with KLM  from Canada to Tanzania (unless you have a medical condition and are unable to wear a mask - in this case a doctors note is required and a negative PCR test result must be shown at check-in and in Amsterdam, results must be valid 72 hours prior to travel). 

Getting ready to board in Toronto, I said to Moses, “it feels like pre-Covid travel, but everyone is wearing a mask.” Extra safety precautions and additional procedures (temperature checks, Covid-19 screening questionnaires and limited contact with the flight attendants) were taken every step of the way, which made us feel very safe. I was pleased to see the airlines implementing these changes so efficiently. We were still served one plated meal on each flight and were each given a bag with snacks and drinks for the remainder of the flight. There were very few people on the plane to Amsterdam from Toronto which was great for a long sleep. From Amsterdam to Tanzania the plane was over half full. 

From Safaris, Mountain trekking to Beach Holidays I customize complete packages for Tanzania - and other nearby countries like Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, should one wish!  A positive thing about travelling during this time is that tourism is low, so it’s not crowded in the National Parks or at the beach resorts. With so much culture to see in Tanzania you can really take advantage at this time.

Our trip ran smoothly from check-in, customs, boarding and throughout the flights. We had a 4.5 hr layover in Amsterdam so we decided to get a room at YotelAir, to rest and freshen up with a nice shower. It cost 55Euros for a single room for 4 hours or 80Euros for a double room. We managed just fine in the single and felt we had enough room for a short nap.

We arrived Kilimanjaro Airport at 8:15pm on the October 15. As I stepped off the plane the warm breeze swept across my face, all my stress disappeared. Social distancing was in place in the customs area and one by one we had our temperatures checked, presented our health screening form, purchased our tourist visas (you can also get an eVisa prior to departure), grabbed our luggage and were on our way to meet our driver. Greeted with the regular happy faces of Tanzanians saying “Karibu sana Tanzania!” (Welcome to Tanzania).

For the full screen video please visit my YouTube Travel Channel

If you have any questions or would like to speak with me about booking a trip to Tanzania, please send me an email at astrowbridge@tpi.ca  - it's my pleasure to design a custom itinerary for you! 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Rudisha Foundation Party - Zipline & Trampoline!

This past December we held the Rudisha Foundation Party for the 2019 school year, to celebrate another successful year in school. All of the children did very well with their grades and have moved into the next grade. Many of them placed in the top 10 in their class! We're very proud of their hard work and commitment to learning and we're also SO grateful to the sponsors for providing them the chance to attend school. Without the support many of them would not be where they are today. As you can see from the annual group photo the children are healthy and strong and growing quickly!


The party was held at the Lutheran Uhuru Hotel in Moshi. The children are familiar with this place as we held our gathering here a previous year.  


They were not expecting new additions to the playground area (small zip-line and trampoline), this was a super treat and lots of fun for all! After a nice big meal together they played on the equipment then had their annual photos (in their Sunday best and in school uniforms) which we send to sponsors and post online to their photo album.










Even a few of the parents tried the small zip-line for the first time 😀. 



Before heading home the children received a gift bag with candies and popcorn, toothbrush and toothpaste, pen & pencils and English books, which were brought over from Ontario, Canada by a family member who was visiting Martha. Big thanks to Jenny for bringing the books, for running around getting some other goodies for the gift bags, playing with the children and for helping with the photos at the party! 







As always I am so grateful that we were able to provide this experience for the children and I'm sure they are as equally grateful! I miss hearing their giggles but love to see their big smiles! Hopefully one day soon I'll be able to see them again in Tanzania!

To learn more about how you can get involved reach out to Amanda - there are many ways to help support the Rudisha Foundation. Perhaps you are looking for a truly eye opening experience? Travel to Tanzania to visit the schools of the children you sponsor or have one of them join you on safari - they would love to see you! 


My blog could never be complete without thanking Mama (Martha Msuya) for arranging everything for the party! Asante sana Mama!