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Just Be Free
Putting any aspect of this trip into words seems like an unrealistic task, but here I am giving it a try. After seven days, I am in love with Tanzania and the beautiful souls that fill this place. There is something so refreshing about being brought back to the simplicity of life where you are forced to unplug from our technology driven society. In America it is so easy to be driven by instant gratification with a self-centered focus and everything we could want/need at our fingertips. Here, it is easier to be present with one another and live fully in the moment. I think what I have loved the most so far are the people. They are so welcoming and genuine, eager to help out and happy to teach us. They have welcomed us in and made us feel at home. The phrase I have heard over and over again is “just be free.” Be free to participate, be free to learn, be free to jump in and help however you can. They offer so much of their time and resources to help us, and they expect nothing in return. I am constantly humbled by their thankful spirit and sense of contentment. They do not seem to take anything for granted, which is something I know I am often guilty of doing. They cherish the simple things and the big things, and their sense of spirituality has them deeply rooted in something greater than themselves. Regardless of circumstances, the thankfulness and contentment does not seem to be shaken. Last night as we sat around the dinner table and debriefed, we each picked one word to describe the people. Some of the words used were genuine, kind, inspiring, resilient, open and lively. These do not do them justice, but that certainly begins to capture them.
Another thing that has awed me is the innovativeness in this place. If there is a resource they don’t have, they are creative in finding a solution, and there is no complaint about a lack of resources. For instance, to pack a cast they used toilet paper, and the doctor explaining it to me laughed as he said it probably isn’t seen in the U.S., but in Tanzania they have to improvise, and it works just as well as the cast padding we would use. I think there has been a lot of learning throughout this trip that the “American way” is not the right or wrong way but rather just one of the many ways. We came in with this attitude of asking a lot of “whys.” Why do they not do something a certain way? Why do they not do a certain procedure the way we are used to seeing it? It was a great eye-opener and reminder that there can be many different ways of doing things that are all effective and efficient. In the end I think we would all agree that we have been humbled by this trip and found that we share more similarities than differences with the people of Tanzania, especially with the shared overarching goal of helping others and given a special position as a health care worker to do so. Currently I know at least a few of us are wishing we could stay and work alongside these friends in Tanzania and delay the start of third semester a little longer.