Sunday, April 11, 2010


By Kate Brooks

When I started at FWS, almost 6 weeks ago now, Sarah warned me that I would spend a lot of time waiting. At the time, this didn’t faze me much at all, as I generally consider myself to be a pretty patient person, even by African standards. But by the time I leave Arusha I expect that I will be the most patient person on earth, that or I will have put my head through the computer screen and there will be a ‘Mzungu down’ in our office.

Indeed Sarah was right, and I do spend a significant amount of my time here waiting- waiting for the response to relatively simple questions from other people, waiting for the rain to stop so I can walk to Kesho Leo, waiting for a page to load on the computer while our internet server slowly ticks over, waiting in line at the market, waiting for the car to start, waiting for the Dala Dala to fill up, waiting for the water to boil, waiting for the power to come back on... moments that you have no control over, where getting annoyed achieves absolutely nothing, moments where there is nothing to do but take a deep breath and swallow a piece of chocolate.

But it is in these moments of frustration that I realise I am much happier here than many other places I have been. And nine times out of ten when the waiting doesn’t produce the result I had hoped for, all that there is left to do is burst out laughing and try again. And I find that the one time out of ten, where everything does fall into place and works out just the way you had hoped, gives such a sense of satisfaction you feel an accomplishment like no other.

Nothing beats the look on one of the Kesho kids’ faces when you see a light bulb go off above their head and something just clicks. Or making a breakthrough in Swahili and understanding exactly what it is the Tanzanian on the Dala Dala said to you. Or finally getting those photos to load and copy over on to that CD. Or having the insurance product disclosure statement you’ve been searching for, for hours, finally download. It’s in these seemingly trivial accomplishments that I feel as though I have scaled Kilimanjaro and hopped back down the other side.

Despite the waiting I have to say that time here moves very fast. Even when the days seem to drag- the weeks fly by. And I am truly very thankful for being able to be a part of the FWS team and experience. It is amazing how quickly Arusha has become familiar and the Vollage has become ‘home’. Amazing how something that once seemed so foreign is now the norm and you fall into a day to day routine that is comfortable but never boring. When I told people I was coming here many remarked that they could ‘never do that’. To which I said then and would still say now ‘rubbish’. EVERYONE should do something like this in their lifetime. I cannot sing the praises of FWS enough and would encourage anyone interested in Africa to volunteer here in Arusha. It’s not ‘too hard’ at all and a rewarding experience like no other.

At the absolute worst, you’ll learn a great lesson in patience.

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