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Insight Trip: Tanzania – Sonya Perez Pre-trip Post

By Sonya Perez-Lauterbach

Twenty Young Ambassadors for Opportunity have embarked on a journey that is sure to change their worldview forever.  During their 10-day trip to Tanzania and Rwanda, they will discover firsthand the impact of Opportunity’s work on our clients, their families and their communities. We hope you’ll read along as they share their thoughts on people, poverty and the promise of microfinance.

September 4, 2009 12:16am

As I peeled back the tinfoil lid of the “chicken” dinner option on my overnight flight to Tanzania, my hunger quickly turned to nausea.  It wasn’t horrible – I could still distinguish the multicolored pasta, a mushroom, and some chunks of chicken – but  I was less than thrilled.  I looked around to see the reactions of the other travelers.  Gaining little response, my mind quickly turned to back to the book that I was reading, White Man Walking, by Ward Brehm.  It’s one of those “educate yourself on poverty and Africa” books that I encourage YAO members to read, one that I just happened to grab off the shelf at work before embarking on this trip.  White Man Walking is a story about Ward’s journey of traveling through remote regions of Kenya by foot and his encounter with the local people.

Far, far away from any electricity, in the midst of incredible darkness out in the brush, Ward remembers flying over the same region of Africa in a comfortable Boeing 747. In that moment, he longed for the comfort of the plane.  I was in that comfortable Boeing 747 flying over the remote regions of Africa that he spoke of.  I was well hydrated, well fed and healthy.  I know nothing of the life of one of Ward’s travel companions who went from village to village trying to confirm a rumor that food aid might be coming in this time of drought. Nor have I hunted down a bamboo, as  another of Ward’s companions did, in the hope of  providing protein to the next village they came upon. As I thought about these stories, my chicken dinner option became more and more appealing.  I can’t say that I completely cleared my plate of airplane food, but my attitude certainly changed.

I am expecting this trip to result in a few  “wake up calls” and I must admit that I hope it will result in new inspiration for my daily work as an employee of Opportunity International.  Will there be other take-aways that  I’m not expecting?  Will the impact of this trip affect my daily life and attitudes?  More importantly, will I let them?   My guess is that many of the travelers are asking these same questions as they make their way to Arusha this Saturday and Sunday.  I look forward to sharing more as the trip unfolds.

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