Posted by: gracehyne | January 24, 2012

Under the African sun

Jennifer Collins, 22, tells tales of her travels around Kenya and Tanzania, working for a charity and delaying the inevitable humdrum of adult life.

I went to Mombasa, Kenya in East Africa with two friends after finishing university. We organised our stay with a company called GVI to volunteer to teach in a primary school for 6 weeks. On arrival, we were very excited but I personally had never experienced a culture shock quite like the one I had driving out from the airport.

We spent the 6 weeks teaching Monday to Friday in a school called Precious Vision Care Centre. Over these weeks we had a class each and taught English, Maths, Art, Sports and Reading, all of which the children loved. They were so enthusiastic and full of energy that it seemed impossible to believe the type of living conditions they had.

Play-time at the school

Me teaching the kids Maths during school-time

On the weekends we were free to organise our own trips away from Mombasa. We mostly travelled down south towards the Tanzanian border using local transport called a Matatu which are similar to a minibus but with twice the amount of passengers it actually seats. The most memorable trip was to Shamoni where we had 2 home stays with the locals. The village itself was very small and had a jetty where we caught a boat over to Shamoni Island. The island is approximately 2 miles long and has no electricity or running water, yet two civilianised villages live perfectly at peace without much dependency from the mainland. In the evening on the island we went to a local woman’s home and had a Swahili cooking lesson, we thought it was the best food we had the whole time travelling!

When we finished teaching we left GVI and their volunteers and headed down to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where we organised a 3 day safari in Selous Game Reserve. This was an amazing experience and saw all sorts of wildlife. Seeing the lions was especially exciting as they came and sat right next to our safari land rover to shade themselves from the hot African sun.

Catching the boat to Shamoni Island

Arriving at Shamoni Island where we had to cover our heads due to their Muslim religion

Swahili cooking lesson in a local's home

Arriving at the Game Reserve

Driving around on the Game Reserve

The safari was one of the most unique experiences I had in Kenya

We then got the ferry from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar Town, Zanzibar which is a small island just off the coast of Tanzania. Zanzibar was my favourite destination as it has perfect beaches, plenty of shopping in Stone Town, friendly locals, mesmerising sunsets and was small enough so that we could travel the whole island within the 2 weeks we were there.

The world is a tiny place with a rich expanse of adventures just waiting to be had. Want to tell me yours? Email them through and let the rest of us who are forced to remain in sunless offices or university buildings live vicariously through you.

Kendwa, Zanzibar

Local markets provided endless amounts of shopping opportunities

My friend and a traditional Masaii warrior

The sun sets at Zanzibar


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