Rotary Club of Penrith
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Rotary Club of Penrith – Jake Newport's work experience trip to Tanzania
At their Monday meeting in the town's George Hotel, Penrith Rotary Club was taken on a trip to Tanzania by 20 year old Jake Newport from Catterlen near Penrith.
Now in his first year at Durham University, former Queen Elizabeth Grammar School pupil Jake explained how he had raised the finance to fund a month long trip to Tanzania. The Rotary Club was among his list of donors and the purpose of his presentation was to share his experiences and to inform members that the trip had been the most amazing of his life.
The first two weeks had been spent living, teaching and working on community projects in Uru, a town with strong Cumbrian connections including links with Skelton school. Jake had stayed with a couple who were teachers and was intrigued to find himself in a house with no glass windows, just gaps in the walls for light. The temperature never dips below 24C and this produces a style of living very different to home!
A striking feature of life in Uru was an impression of poverty; many lived in rudimentary hand made buildings that made use of available materials including mud and leaves from coffee or banana trees for the roof. Although there was no serious food shortages, local markets sold only a small selection of food including tomatoes. Cooperatives ensured a market to, and some price regulation for local produce. Because some children are malnourished the school provides a meal each day. One slide showed lines of children waiting outside for a ladle of Ugali, a porridge like dish made from maize flour and water. It's like mashed potato but with no taste, according to Jake.
At the same time that Jake was witnessing this Dickensian like scene, lines of children receiving minimum rations, he was also aware of one major difference. The children in Uru were happy and motivated. This was Jake's key inspiration. How could children with so little, be so motivated and happy? This seemed far beyond anything that might be noticed in the western world of plenty. Instead of playing with friends at lunchtime, boys and girls were more interested in Jake marking their work. Each day they worked in the school garden to raise crops that helped pay for school supplies.
In his third week Jake lived in the slums of Arusha but was able to spend some time in the northern game parks where he saw all of the notable animal species. His final week was spent in Rombo, a community isolated on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. There he helped with different projects and became aware that some of the locals had never seen a Westerner. In one town Jake had taken a picture of Masai nomads walking through the streets talking into mobile telephones, a striking combination of tradition and modernity.
In summary Jake admitted that this had been a life changing experience and he thanked all those bodies and individuals who had made it possible. One day he hoped to return. To Tanzania.
In thanking Jake, Rotary President John Brookfield, congratulated him, not only in achieving so much during his month in Tanzania, but also in bringing it all back to life for Penrith Rotarians.