My personal experience at the Maasai Clean Cookstove Project in Arusha, Tanzania truly made me reconsider what true travelling experiences are all about.
Since I’ve gotten older and had more experiences in personal travel, I’ve learnt many lessons about what it means to have an enjoyable time on vacation. The media often portrays the communities that I have visited to be miserable, helpless and in need of financial assistance from other wealthier countries. Falling victim to these portrayals of the media was the first mistake I made when thinking about other people in other places. It becomes too easy to focus on the differences of other cultures than what we all have in common. Whenever I have had the chance to travel to such a beautiful place as Tanzania and more specifically visiting the Maasai, I found that the residents are smiling, jumping around, laughing and singing their hearts out.
The traditional clothing, the crowns and the jewelry, they had brought out to wear and show us was truly incredible - something I couldn’t dare take my eyes off of. If I were to roughly estimate, there were probably over 200 people singing and dancing around us, playing the most diverse instruments, dressed in beautifully colored, detailed handmade clothing. For as long as I live I will never forget the feeling of acceptance and love that came from such a wonderful tribe; the experience was truly magical.
Once the ceremony was finished they brought us into the stove making area and I was so excited to get to work. After the introduction was given to us, I put my hand up first because I wanted to get in there right away and get started. I was definitely out of my element, the ceilings were low, it was crowded with people and flies everywhere. In a moment of stillness, I looked over my shoulder and saw this older man with a huge smile on his face handing me the bricks one by one for the stove. This reminded me why I came here in the first place, and made all my worries disappear into thin air, a warm sensation took over my body and I was able to put my best efforts into building them the best stove for their community.
You can learn more about the Maasai Clean Cookstoves project here