When we landed in Kilimanjaro International Airport, it was 9 O’Clock at night. The first words we learned were “Karibu Tanzania”…Welcome to Tanzania. While going through customs, the power went out…twice! (But that’s a story for another time.) It was dark and we were tired. So we didn’t notice much about the town of Arusha besides the bumpy ride until the next day.
We were staying at the UAACC run by exiled Black Panthers, Pete & Charlotte O’Neil. (Yup, that’s another crazy story.) It’s a “global community of people committed to making a positive change in this world!” One of the reasons we wanted to stay there was to see their school and meet the children in their orphanage. So the following morning we went down and met the “House Mother” and got to play with all the children, give them cartoon stickers we’d brought (a HUGE hit!), crayons, colored pencils, etc. It was SUCH a fulfilling experience to see their faces light up at a couple Wazungu (white outsiders) who took the time to show an interest in them.
I was particularly drawn to this little girl who seemed to be more of a loaner…often sitting by herself…and frequently displaying a far-away feeling of sadness in her eyes. I could only imagine what pain, suffering, or abuse she might have already endured in her young life. But she had fleeting bouts of excitement and joy, like when Cami put a sticker of Cinderella on the pack of her hand. Now that she’s in an orphanage of people who care for her, I can only hope she finds a brighter future than her past.