Our journey to Amani Children’s Home for Street Children began months before we set foot on the continent of Africa. If we weren’t coming to Tanzania to do service work, I wanted to at least bring some “things” from home to children who needed those “things.” After way too much time researching which travel book to buy and then settling on the British Bradt Tanzania Safari Guide, I had my answer on page 86, “www.stuffyourrucksack.com is a website…which enables travelers to give direct help to small charities, schools, or other organizations in the country they are visiting. …The website describes organizations that need your help and lists the items they most need.” I liked this part best, “Check what’s needed in Tanzania, contact the organization to say you are coming and bring not only much-needed goods but an extra dimension to your travels and the knowledge that in a small way you have made a difference.”
I found on the Tanzania list the Amani Children’s Home located between Arusha and Moshi. Perfect
On their website was a 4-page list of items they requested of visitors to Amani. I emailed Amani to ask if any of the hundred or so items were more important than others. Salma Khatibu, Communications Officer, emailed back that everything on the list was a priority and that she was looking forward to our visit in February. She included directions and her phone number. As a family, we picked Legos, as we had access at Sacagawea Middle School in Bozeman, Montana to not just hundreds of Legos, but thousands. We also sourced soccer and volleyballs, air pumps and pins, dry erase markers and white board wash. One duffel bag was designated exclusively for Amani.
The Amani duffel visited Los Angeles and then Istanbul, sat barely noticable under the Zanzibar bed that doubled as a couch in the apartment we first called home in Arusha. In our new home in Kimemo, we hid it away in one of our many closets.
An email arrived from Salma. When are you coming? She hadn’t forgotten us and certainly wasn’t going to let us off the hook. I emailed her back. Could we visit on a weekend, on a Sunday? The girls are in school now at ISM, Arusha Monday through Friday. Anytime after 1:00, just let me know which day, she responded. Weekends went by. Another email from Salma. Late in the day last Friday I confirmed with Alex, Saturday is the International Fair at school, Sunday to Amani. Are we good? Yes. I let Salma know.
Sunday morning we pull out the map. Goal — lunch in Moshi, visit to Amani, Rivertrees for pizza and a swim. Sounds lovely, except that Amani is really practically in Moshi and Moshi is at least 2 hours from our house. Nix lunch in Moshi, pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, throw in a few Isagenix bars. And, sorry kids, we may not have time for a swim but like every day, throw in the bathing suits and towels — just in case.
Three police stops later, including one for speeding (that’s a story for www.AWritersSpace.com/travel-shorts) we circle the first roundabout in Moshi with plenty of time for lunch.