Hey everybody!!! After spending the last week on Mount Kilimanjaro, we have returned to the internet to update you all on the reality that all five of us summitted the world famous Mount Kilimanjaro at Uhuru peak. Uhuru peak sits on top of Africa at 5895 meters! There truly is now way to describe the beauty that we witnessed while climbing these last six days. Kilimanjaro is the most majestic piece of nature I (personally) have ever witnessed. The top is still covered with snow and glaciers and the melting creates beautiful mountain streams. The first day we climbed from Machame gate to the Machame campsite. This hike was through the beautiful rainforests that sit near the bottom of Kili. Us being a slower group, we took seven hours to hike to our first camp. It was long after our arrival that we realized the company that scheduled our climb did not pack sleeping bags. Our head guide took two porters back down to the bottom and got 5 sleeping bags. The night was very cold and and something we were not use to after the hot Tanzanian weather that we've witnessed this last month. The next day we hiked up to the Shira campsite which took us, again, longer than we expected. This hike put us above the clouds and the sunscreen became a necessity. The ability to see over the clouds and into the horizon was absolutely stunning. We were fed good food each morning and night and the cook prepared a sack lunch for us during each hike. The next day was rough day in general. We went to Lava tower which is a high point that allowed us to climatize. After Lava tower we descended down to camp on a very long hike that banged up our knees, feet, and legs. We were very happy to arrive and we all slept well after a good supper. The next day brought us to Barafu, the base camp. There were a lot of ups and downs and the scenery was, again, beautiful. Our time of arrival at Barafu base camp was supposed to be around 2:00 pm, but instead, we arrived at 6:00, ate supper at 7:00, got in the tents around 9:00 and woke up around 10:00 to prepare for our summit...yes, that means only one hour of sleep. We departed at 11:00 for Uhuru peak, and I don't think any of us knew the work we were in for. Nausea, dizziness, and hallucinations were all a part of the summit day for most of us. However, our head guide assured us that it was completely normal. Freddy, our head guide has climbed Kili 607 times at the age of 45, he's an amazing man. We all ended up splitting up because of our different paces. We were all able to witness the sunrise over the horizon which was absolutely amazing, no matter how sick we were. We all got pictures at different times with our separate guides and we all met each other at different times during our overlapping ascents and descents. Happiness swelled amongst the group as we all realized that we had just summitted the highest point on the continent of Africa and the highest free standing mountain in the world! A two hour descent brought us back to Barafu where we were able to nap and eat for a short while before we descended down to Mweka camp. That hike took around 3-4 hours and needless to say we all ate and slept well. Yesterday, we made the 3 hour hike down to the end gate and received our certificates of summit! The tour company brought us back to the office where they distributed our t-shirts and where we begin our celebration. After the office, we returned to Neneu hotel to rest and continue the celebration. Although tired, the adrenaline last night was amazing. Today, we have checked out of Neneu and are waiting at the office ready to be taxied to the Kilimanjaro airport 40 minutes away around 5:00 p.m (the time now is 1:00 p.m.). We'll fly out at 8:00 p.m. and arrive in Minneapolis at 12:15 on July 2nd. Angela will fly into Denver around 3:30 in the afternoon. We are all excited to have our reunions, share stories, catch up, show pictures, and just be at home!

For now, Kwa Heri! But soon, Tutaonana! (Goodbye, but we will see each other soon)

Best, BWB

Ready to climb!

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After a 14 hour bus ride from Mwanza, we finally arrived in Moshi on Saturday night. We were picked up and brought to a nice safe hotel where we stayed for 2 nights. It was fun to explore Moshi the next day and have our briefing meeting prior to the climb. We went through the route with the head of Kessy Brother's tours, and prepared all of our gear. Everyone was very helpful, and we are all set to climb tomorrow! This morning, Angela, Laura, and Brady left to go on a climatization walk while Brandon and I moved everyone's luggage to the hotel we are staying at tonight, Neneu. It is a beautiful hotel, and we will even get hot showers before climbing, which is quite the treat. Wish us luck on the climb! We plan to update the blog once more prior to leaving on the 1st. Talk soon,

Jenna Hass, BWB

Already June 21st... what!?!?

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Tuesday and Wednesday we spent more time with the Lweru community. Tuesday we were shown around to several different farms. One of the farmers was kind enough to send us away with a few avacados. At one of the stops we walked through some terrain to see a water pump that at least 8,000 people depend on for clean drinking water. After our day with the Lweru community we started getting our stuff together to head to Mwanza. At dinner we started our goodbyes to our friends Philemon and Lavina at the pub next door. Wednesday we spent our last day with the Lweru community starting with a meeting with a group living with HIV/AIDS. It was eye opening to learn about the challenges they face. The hospital distributes their antiretroviral drugs once per month for free, but most of them have to travel at least 15km to get there. If they miss the day the distribute the drugs then they are without drugs until the next month. They are also given antibiotics to aid their weakened immune system, but these antibiotics are not given consistently. Even with all of the challenges they face the group seemed to cope well with their situation and they all work together to make survivable conditions.

When we got back to the house we packed up all of our luggage and waited for our driver to take us to the ferry. When we were saying our goodbyes one of William's sons, Brian, started crying which caused some of us to cry too. No one really realized how much we'd miss Bukoba until that moment. We ate our last meal from Philemon, our cook, at the beach. It was absolutely amazing and we're going to miss it a lot. We boarded the ferry and left Bukoba at 9pm.

Thursday morning we arrived in Mwanza and met our driver to take us straight to Shinyanga. After we set up a hotel we were taken to a Leporsy colony that is helped by House of Grace. The colony is about 15 km outside of town.Their quality of life is hard to take in. Most of them are living without fingers and toes. Some of them are even missing limbs because of the disease. One of the projects House of Grace is working on is building a community center for families with Leporsy. They plan on building it in town so people that live there can have a place to gather for food and medication. That night our driver invited us into his home for an amazing meal.

Now we're back in Mwanza until tomorrow morning when we will take a bus to Arusha or Moshi. We will for sure settle in our hotel near Kilimajaro on the 24th. All is well!

-Brandon Bistodeau, BWB

June 17th

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The past weekend has been pretty relaxed. Saturday we decided to take a tour with Kiroyera to see some waterfalls that are around Bukoba! Little did we know that we actually signed up for a full day of touring many places such as a vanilla and coffee farm, an ancient iron working site dating back to 500 BC, and a very small cave in which there were bats flying by our faces and noises of strange animals in the dark. Although it was a long and hot day, it was very eventful, everything we saw was pretty interesting, and the waterfall was beautiful! Yesterday we attended an Assembly of God church service in the morning with the daughter of one of our drivers that we've had here, and that was interesting as well.
Today we joined the Lweru ADP organization that does similar projects here in rural Tanzania to the things we saw done by KAVIPE in Kamachumu. They talked to us about their animal husbandry programs, the importance of education, and environmental issues as well. Then we went to several sites sponsored by them in which young women are set up with sewing machines and taught that trade so that they can have skills to work later in life. We'll continue to see projects through Lweru for our last 2 days in Bukoba.
We're sad to leave Bukoba, but excited to continue on the next part of our trip! Although we're not sure what to think about the bus ride from Mwanza to Arusha that we'll be taking. We've asked several people how long it will take, and though the general consensus is about 10 hours, one man did say 24. Hopefully he was mistaken!

On Monday afternoon we made our way to Kamachumu a village an hour away from Bukoba. It was BWB's first time there and we met up with an organization here in Tanzania known as KAVIPE. This organization is involved in providing cows, pigs, chickens, and goats to people in need as a way to help them become self sufficient. They brought us around to meet a lot of families they have helped and to show what their organization is all about. We met a lot of great members of the organization and got to meet a lot of the really great people who lived there. In addition, we went to the market and Jenna, Angela, and Laura bought more congas than we know what to do with. We are now back in Bukoba and excited to enjoy a relaxing weekend before going off to the Lweirwu community. Then from there, we make our way to Kilimanjaro for the climb. We all cannot believe the trip has gone by so fast and are sad that we only have two weeks left.
Talk to you soon, BWB

JUNE 10TH

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Hi everyone! We have been very busy this past week and have had many new experiences. On Thursday we had the opportunity to observe a goiter operation, which was amazing! The doctor who was performing them had 13 total to perform, and each one took approximately one hour. It was quite and experience and those of us in the group wanting to continue on the medical school were especially intrigued. The rest of Thursday we went to multiple schools with Izaas and two others to inspect the grounds so they could plan to build wells and supports surgeries and other medical projects. On Friday, it was Laura's 22nd birthday, so we went to the beach and spent the night in the bandas. That night was expecially fun as we played volleyball and met many new people. On Saturday morning we went to BUDAP (Bukoba Disabled Assistance Project) which is here in town. BUDAP is a project that assists the disabled in becoming self sustainable by making items such as drums, bags, and jewelry, and selling them in town. A few of us bought some items, and are excited to share them with others when we return. Yesterday we left for Ishozi, which is the village William is from. His family and friends cooked us an amazing dinner last night! We feasted and then spent the night in tents, which turned out to be quite chilly. This morning we brought 8 soccer balls, a volleyball, and a net to Ishozi primary school. They were thrilled and it was great to play with them and teach them how to play volleyball. Currently we are about to head out to Kamachumu, where we will be until Friday. We won't be able to blog until then, but we will have much to talk about when we return I'm sure! Talk soon.

BWB, specifically Jenna

It's June 5th....

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Hello from Tanzania! We are all doing well here in Bukoba. The sun is shining and the people are as friendly as ever!
Yesterday we visited Josiah Girls High School for the day. The headmistress was an amazing woman who has done a lot to help out all the girls at the school and the students there were fantastic as well, and very welcoming. They prepared an awesome performance for us including dancing and singing. They also invited all of us on stage to try the dances as well. Needless to say, we all looked pretty ridiculous up there but it was a lot of fun to try. A lot of the girls at the school are amazing dancers.
We also did a performance of our own. We decided to show them a traditional American dance, the Macarena. They actually loved it and we did several more times throughout the rest of our visit. All in all, it was a very fun day and definitely a place we would like to go back to if we have time.
Today, we met with Aaseem, a man from England who is involved in an organization who does a lot of charity work in Tanzania and Kenya. Together, we all went to Kagonda Hospital where we met many patients who needed prosthetic limbs and met with one of the employees there who help to make and fit these limbs for patients with deformities or amputations. We also got a tour of the hospital where we met many amazing hospital staff members as well as several patients.
Tomorrow, we are heading to Muganda Hospital where we will meet with a patient in need of a goiter operation and we have the generous opportunity to actually watch the surgery take place. We will also be heading back to Muegaza, the albino and disabled school.
Hope all is well back in Minnesota! We miss you all and will see you in a few short weeks!
Salama,
BWB, specifically Laura

June 3rd

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Hey everybody, it's been a few days since we posted here on the group blog but don't be worried, we've been up to a lot and still are keeping busy. Hopefully everyone is doing well at home, we're all thinking of you. We can't wait to share pictures and stories when we return. From where we left off from the last blog, we've played a soccer game against the Native Masai tribe located here Bukoba, we traveled toward Uganda to spend the weekend at a Islamic and Christian school to see how they lived and work with the kids. Yesterday, we returned to our temporary home in Bukoba and today we were back at Bukoba Secondary School to work with the students this time on computer basics such as powerpoint, more excel, and typing skills. The game against the Masai was a lot of fun! We really thought we did well considering our extreme lack in soccer experience. We played the game for quite a while and I think most of us were pretty worn out by the end. However, it came down to a 5-5 score and we decided that the next point would win. In this overtime, we went on a while and played really well; however, they made a break and scored the game winning goal. I must admit that even though we did play well, because we were short of players, one of the local boys that happened to be very good at soccer, was put on our team and one could say that he put the team on his back. After soccer, we danced with the tribal members and this was an amazing experience. The sounds they made with their voices were something that could really never be repeated by any of us, so luckily, we got a good video. Their style of dancing consists of rhythmic jumping that at first looks very simple but once in the circle surrounded by the other dancers, it's easy to understand that they are talented dancers. The next day, Friday, we walked to Mr. Raza's to eat lunch with the Islamic students and heard some more stories about the student's journeys to Mr. Raza's school. Mr. Raza is an elderly man that has done much of the planning for us here in Bukoba and funds quite a few giving organizations here in Bukoba for the homeless and elderly. Mr. Raza told us about one street boy who loved the street life but after being attacked, begged Mr. Raza to allow him in the school. He was a student that caused mishaps and had a hard time succeeding in the classroom. However, one minor dedication to become a boy scout changed his life and now he is an upstanding student and a role model for his peers and the younger kids in the school. After lunch, we were driven to Kubwoba School which is about an hour away and near the Ugandan border. The school is located in a very rural village where the community is very poor. We took a tour through the village the first night and got to see how the villagers live and it was really eye opening. There was a sort of hotel across from the small village where we stayed. There was no electricity and the outhouse bathrooms were right next door. I think it's fair to say that it was an experience for all of us; much different than American life to say the least. Light at night was supplied strictly by lantern and it was something all of us got use to. Saturday, we were brought back to the school where we were introduced to the kids shortly after, they sang for us their school song. It was a really a great experience standing and listening to all some 80 kids all singing in harmony. After that, we broke up in to groups; the boys with the boys, and the girls with the girls. The older boys were really curious about a lot of American life. They asked about things such as biology, school, math, music, and other subjects as well as controversial issues that are being discussed in America. The younger boys were a little more laid back and did most answering once the questions were asked. Just the same, they were so excited and clingy to the Wazungus that were visiting their school. All the girls had a fun time dancing for hours in the dormitory. They all had a ball and the girls in the school were very good dancers. After supper, we got out the soccer balls and the older boys took the big field while all the younger ones needed help from the Mzungu to organize a game of soccer. Everyone had a great time and everyone was really interested in the cameras that we brought. The girls talked for a while and then ended up playing volleyball with a soccer ball that we had brought. Sunday, we went to the Ugandan border and got to walk around a Ugandan market. It was clear that Tanzania is the more developed country, even though we were just on the border. We also visited one of the nearby timber areas where the men were taking trees down. Near this site, a bunker existed on the top of a hill from the Ugandan-Tanzanian war. On our way back, our driver took us by his farm where he has cattle, pigs, goats, and beehives. The Shambas (farms) of Tanzania are an interesting site and it was a great experience to see how the farmers lived in those very rural areas. Today, we returned to Bukoba Secondary and taught the students basic computer lessons such as powerpoint, some more excel, and typing skills. It was sad to say goodbye to those at Bukoba Sec. but both the group and the staff at the school were so grateful for the time that we spent together.

Hope to talk to you all soon. Thinking of all of you!

May 29th Update

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We've been working with the teachers at Bukoba Secondary School since Monday teaching them how to use Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint. It has been an interesting experience with them. Some of them seem to pick up on what we are teaching them quickly and others need it explained many times. Teaching them how to use these programs makes us feel really smart and capable with the programs. We won't be back to the school until Monday because the teachers have started grading their students' final exams. When we go on Monday we will bring the teachers a detailed list of how to use Excel and PowerPoint the way we taught them. Hopefully this will make it easier for them to remember what to do.

Later this evening we will be playing the Masai in a game of soccer. We are almost guaranteed to lose, but it will be a fun experience anyway. We don't have anything planned for tomorrow as of right now. On Friday we will be having lunch with a Muslim school. Then we will spend the weekend with them in their village. It will give us an opportunity to experience their culture and way of life.

May 27th Update

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Wow we did a lot of different things in the past few days! Hopefully we can talk about it all in the short time we have at the internet cafe!

On Saturday we went to Mugeza to visit the Albino and Disabled School there. We donated all of the clothes that we lugged across the world to the kids there, and that experience was a really good one. It was great to hand out the hats, long sleeved shirts, and sunglasses to the albino children who very badly need to have better protection from the sun. We also handed out the sunscreen and showed the kids how to apply it. After giving out the clothing donations, we gave all the kids eight soccer balls, and played with them for a while. It was really great to see how much fun the kids were having with the donations we were able to bring. Afterwards, we helped clean a dormitory with disinfectant and A LOT of scrubbing and moving beds and mattresses around. It was definitely hard but satisfying work! Overall the day was a lot of fun, and it was great to finally be doing some volunteer work after spending so much time setting things up last week!

Then yesterday was a special day, as it was Queen's first birthday party! Queen is William's daughter, so there was a big party at Kiroyera beach to celebrate her first birthday! That was a lot of fun, and was a really big event. There was a lot of dancing, and we really liked that! When it was time to open presents everyone would dance their way up to the front and present them to her. We thought that was a really fun way to do it! The food was amazing, as usual. We even got to try antelope! Overall it was a really fun and great night at the beach where we ate amazing food and met some really interesting people!

Then today we worked at Bukoba Secondary School teaching Excel to the teachers there. They wanted to learn how to use Excel in order to make grading and reporting grades easier. We were there for a long time both teaching them things and trying to figure them out ourselves. We definitely could have used a crash course in Excel before coming here, but we're figuring it out the best we can!

Overall it's been a busy few days and we're having a great time!

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