Seven Countries, Two Continents, A Million Stories

Trip Start Apr 08, 2009
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27
Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
267 Strathcona Drive

Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 14, 2009

I must apologize for the delay in this final entry. 

My little feet are exhausted.  I've traveled a healthy portion of the earth's surface these past 3 months and I finally find myself in familiar territory.  I arrived home in Burlington July 11th with a (couple of) packs on my back, a smile on my face and a changed heart.  I had the time of my life on this solo adventure - I met the most amazing people, accomplished some pretty impressive things, challenged myself, learned about myself and (let's be honest) ate some of the most delicious food on the face of the planet! (Those Greeks know how to do it).

The final leg of my trip was pretty low-key.  My time in Edinburgh was wonderful - I strolled through Princes Street Gardens in the afternoons (taking well deserved naps in the grass), drinking a pint and reading the paper in some of the millions of local pubs and bars in the old town Grassmarket area, I did just a little shopping (okay, maybe a lot) and even went to a real live movie theatre - gasp!  I had a little camera scare near the end there, but a few hours (and $80) later, I had all my pictures copied onto a memory stick safe and sound and fully in tact - phew!

This trip was truly one of a lifetime.  My time in Tanzania has changed me forever and through it I helped raise over $1,000 dollars for individuals and families suffering from HIV/AIDs.  Since writing that article for the Hamilton Spectator, I've had more donations come in and in the next week I'll be sending more money to TAFCOM founders Nie and Jonas in order to help more of their most-in-need clients (Thank you to everyone for your help!).  You'll be happy to know that since I left Tanzania, our orphans have been getting one meal of porridge every day, Amose got his surgery and is home safe and sound trying to recover and TAFCOM is now planning another fundraiser to generate more income and keep the cycle of awareness going in the Moshi community.

I want to take this opportunity to Thank each and every one of you who have been following along with this travelblog.  I hope you've been able to live vicariously through my travels (and experiences) and perhaps learned a little too.  Also, to all of those who contributed to my trip (both financially and via moral support), I would never have been able to do this without you.  My time in Tanzania was not only positive for TAFCOM - their clients benefit significantly just from having volunteers like myself in the community - but I was able to grow as a person as well.  This trip came at a time in my life where I felt confused about what I wanted out of life, and being in East Africa seeing the way of life there, I certainly have a new perspective.  I no longer have that confused feeling.  I feel a sense of accomplishment and pride for the things I achieved over there.  Not only with TAFCOM, but the sense of independence I have now is amazing.  I feel like I can accomplish just about anything - if I can go to an unknown country, not knowing anything of the language or culture and achieve what I did, I can certainly do anything, right?  I can take control of my own life and make things happen for me.  In the future I hope to take what I've accomplished  (and learned about myself) and continue to apply it to my own life, but hopefully influence people around me.  This travelblog was certainly a step in that direction - if only one person was made aware of the state of affairs overseas for many people suffering from poverty and/or disease (the two most often go hand in hand), I've done my job. 

I learned that we as North Americans have everything we could ever want or need at our fingertips.  I considered myself a 'starving student' before this trip - and now I realize how stupid that North American phrase really is.  I have a full stomach, a bed to sleep in, access to medical care and an education.  As a North American woman, I have access to things that women in Tanzania could never dream of - I can make my own decisions, I can pursue any career that I aspire to, I can fall in love with who I want, speak my mind freely and have access to adequate food, water and many pleasures in life that East African women will never know.  Sure, I have my own problems - a result of North American life - but compared to how some people live on a global scale, I've got it extremely good.  So do we all.

So, Thank you. Thank you for giving me this new perspective in life.  I hope to use it for the greater good, as best I can.

I suppose this is the end of a Chapter - one that will remain very close to my heart for as long as I live - but it certainly isn't the end of the book.  You'll be hearing more from me in the years to come.  I plan to go back to Tanzania and continue to assist in the TAFCOM initiative in country.  I would love to see them grow and improve as the years go on.  I also have a feeling that my life's work will in some way be connected to what I was doing overseas.  As of yet I don't know how exactly - so I suppose I have some homework to do (pretty exciting stuff, if I do say so myself). 

So it's back to real life.  But hopefully this time, with a changed heart and a new perspective I can make the most of what's in store for me in the future. 

When I was 26, I went to Africa.
I knew nothing of myself and in three short months all of that changed.
I challenged myself to make a difference
... and I did.


Much love,

Erin







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Comments

mpsmith
mpsmith on

Oh to live vicariously...
Glad you are home safe and sound and had a wonderful time. I was sad when the pics stopped coming, but knew they would return! When we're both back in Calgary I'll get you to take me through all the pics (and Andrew too, I haven't seen all of his yet).

I'm in town tomorrow afternoon. Let's grab Chaps some time before the wedding.

hannah0
hannah0 on

I just wanted to say that I've just read your whole blog and I think it was great. Your pictures were fantastic as well. I'm glad you had a good time.

Hannah

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