At the end of June, 10 members of the Padua community, including current students, recent alumni, teachers, and administration departed Cleveland Hopkins Airport to begin their two-week mission trip to Tanzania, Africa. The main purpose of their mission work was to interact with the children of Msamaria Centre for Street Children, located in the town of Moshi. Msamaria provides support and care to street children, orphans, families, and the surrounding community. The word Msamaria in Swahili means “good samaritan.” The mission group played games with the children like futbol, card games, sang songs, danced, and took a genuine interest in their well-being, while also doing chores around the center, like painting the dining hall. Some of the older kids were tutored, as well. The group also visited Karanga Primary School to see what public schools are like in Tanzania and visited Upendo, a local orphanage, where they also spent time with the younger children.
Throughout their stay the group took the opportunity to tour some of the local beauty and history of the region. They hiked to Ndoro Waterfalls, where they cooled off swimming around the falls. Afterwards they visited a working coffee farm where they had some hands-on experiences. They learned some history of the Maasai and Chagga Tribes and toured the ancient Chagga cave. After a four-hour drive to Tarangire National Park the group had one of their most exciting events, as they took part in a day-long safari.
Around the mid-point of the mission trip, the group took an eight-hour drive to Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, where they stayed at St. Peter Claver High School. While in the capital they drove to a nearby village and visited with members of the Gogo Tribe where they were treated to some traditional tribal dancing. While there they also spent time at a Mother Theresa Home that serviced the blind, disabled, and other adults and children in need of care. The group then took the long bus ride back to Moshi to spend more time at Msamaria.
Towards the end of their journey the group visited Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park where they were amazed to see lions, crocodiles, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests and more. Some of the group even hiked up a portion of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.
On their last full day, the group spent time with the children and shared some gifts that they had for them. The farewell was bitter sweet as they did not want to leave the children of Msamaria, with whom they had made such strong bonds. As difficult as it was to leave, the group was eager to return home to see family, friends, and sleep in their own beds. No doubt these experiences changed the lives of those on the mission trip and lent them a new perspective as they continue their Christian mission moving forward. They preached the gospel through their actions and are undoubtedly better for it.