The last month of my journey

Trip Start Nov 03, 2008
Trip End Jan 29, 2009

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Sunday, January 11, 2009

I've been out of touch for quite some time; this final entry is from my parent's house back in White Rock.  It is 6 a.m. and I have already been awake for 2 hours.   I arrived home a few days ago, 3 weeks ahead of schedule.   It is strange to be back in Canada, but also a relief as life in Africa is not easy.   After struggling to recover from an undiagnosed ailment I decided it was time to come home to recuperate.  Not wanting to worry the folks or anyone at home, I chose not to mention that I also had a couple bouts of malaria along with a few other stomach problems while I was away. 

I quickly learned that the antimalarial drugs you are supposed to take daily for prevention are rather ineffective.  After being in Tanzania for one week I was diagnosed with 2 rings of malaria.  Everyone in my house, and friends in the neighbourhood, were either recovering from malaria, just getting malaria or had already had it at least once.  Anyone visiting Tanzania for an extended period of time does not take preventative meds as they reportedly mask the symptoms and make it much harder to treat if you do contract malaria. 

The good news is now that I am home I'm finally able to upload some video for you to see.  Unfortunately, my video camera was stolen in my last days and I only have a few videos that I had burned onto a CD at the beginning of my journey.   What you won't see is the amazing video footage of the Maasai jumping in our backyard.  Their singing, chanting and jumping was pretty impressive so I am quite sad that I can't share it with you.  I have a short video of the some of the guys that were hanging around one afternoon in their Western clothes 

Check out to see a recording of Ema and Jackson singing.  I also have some video of the kids singing and dancing  There is a series of short videos from Day 1 when Josephat was giving me a tour of the compound, and once I figure out how to edit/combine the videos I'll upload them and send you the link. 

When I last updated my blog, I had just arrived in Stonetown, Zanzibar.  I was excited to have a break from Mwanza, to lie on the beach and try the food that everyone had been raving about.  The first few nights I ate at Mercury's restaurant (named after Freddie who was born in Zanzibar) and the food was great.  When I got to Nungwi beach in the north I was feeling pretty good and wasted no time getting in the water.  The beaches there are so beautiful and the water is the most amazing colour of blue.  The seafood was delicious and the variety of food was a welcome change from my usual rice and beans.  I visited the turtle sanctuary and I went on a spice tour, but most of my days were spent lazing around the beach. 

I hung out with a Canadian couple and a few Aussies, as well as Mickey the monkey - a very cute baby monkey who lived at the hotel next door.  Mickey was looking for a mom and I guess I was the next best thing.  Everytime I had to leave him he would screech loudly, jumping up and down.  Eddie, the hotel owner would have gladly given him to me if he thought his wife wouldn't find out.  I made friends with a local "Tinga Tinga" painter and exchanged computer lessons for some Swahili lessons.  I bought two of his paintings - very simple and beautiful monochrome images of Maasai.  I'm looking forward to hanging them up when I find a new home in Vancouver.    

When I got back from Zanzibar there were a few changes and some new faces.  A group of volunteers from Australia had arrived and spent Christmas with the kids.  They commissioned a local tailor to make school backpacks for each of the kids and filled them with gifts like toothbrushes, notebooks and pencils.  The vegetable seeds had all been planted and the corn field had grown so much the kids could almost get lost in it.  Three siblings had arrived from Josephat's village - Wilson, Jetu and Marky - all very sweet and outgoing.  The Australian girls are there for another week and plan to get the chicken coop built ASAP so the chickens can't eat the vegetable seedlings.  They are also taking all of the kids to the doctor's for checkups.   

Before I left, I went to Hands of Mercy to say hello and goodbye to Rashid.  As soon as I came through the gate he saw me and came running.  He looks really healthy and happy and is apparently fitting in really well.  I was there for a couple of hours and he never left my side except to show me his paper plane flying skills.  I gave him a Maasai bracelet to wear around his ankle to remember me and I promised to write him letters from home.  Saying goodbye to him and the others was very hard and I so wish that I could have taken him with me.    

In the end, your donations came to a total of $6300! The remaining money will go towards buying some new beds and mattresses and to build an awning from the girls' dorm to the stores house to provide some shelter from the sun.  And Rubugu, one of my many favourites, will be going to private school.  On my last day there I took him to Eden Valley School to be enrolled in Standard 2.  My mom's friends, Alyth and Ian, offered to sponsor him for the remainder of his years in primary school.  At Eden Valley he will receive a far better education than in the public system, plus all lessons are taught in English.   

Coming back home to piles of snow and grey skies was a bit of a shock, but I'm a lot happier to be home than I thought I might be.  I was worried that I might have a hard time adjusting however I'm just relieved to be back home where life is so much easier.  Living in Africa was at times a serious test of my patience and emotional strength, and travelling alone was not always fun.  I will seriously miss the friendly nature of the Tanzanian people; you can't walk anywhere without being greeted with a smile and a "hello, how are you?".  There are so many Swahili greetings and I tried to use them all even if I didn't fully understand the meaning. 

I'm hoping I can keep the memories alive until I can return again.  Everyone was demanding to know when I would be back and I had to tell them I didn't know.  I am already looking forward to when I can see the kids and how they've grown.  The fundraising will continue as there are still so many things that are needed.  Josephat and his family need a home of their own on the compound, there are trees to be planted and landscaping to be done.  Ideally a wall should be built around the compound to keep the kids safe.  I stayed in the girl's dorm for a few nights and discovered that the kids are sleeping in their clothes.  Once I find a new home, I would love to host a pajama party with the goal of sending over some PJs for the kids. 

A HUGE thank you to all of you for your support, encouragement and of course your donations!  And an extra special thank you to my family and to Linda and Nancy for understanding how important this journey was for me and helping to make it a reality.   

I hope you enjoy the video and pictures!   

love ya,
Andrea Douglas

One more video - Ema thanking Keri for the music she put on my iPod -
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andreainafrica on

Re: Welcome back
Carolee! So nice to hear from you. I would love to see you this weeekend! Send me an email to

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