Written by Sami, Courage House Tanzania Program Assistant
I came to Tanzania with no intention of staying longer than two weeks. Here I am, almost 9 months later, with a work permit in my passport, mediocre knowledge of Kiswahili, and I officially can’t go anywhere in town without seeing someone I know. I feel more than lucky. In many places in the States, dirt is replaced with concrete, trees are replaced with buildings, and the sky is masked with pollution. Here, the natural beauty is unmatched: Kilimanjaro in her majesty, the expanse of the bush, flora and fauna of the national parks, the larger-than-life roaming animals, the clear night sky and all of her stars, the warm water and golden sun of the coast. There is nothing like a sunset here, and a cup of coffee originating on the slopes of the mountain. I find Tanzanians to be so warm and welcoming, and simply not in a hurry — meaning everyone takes the time to genuinely greet others, but also meaning nothing starts on time.
No matter how beautiful this country is, I wouldn’t be able to last long-term if I didn’t absolutely love what I’m doing at Courage. The challenges are intense, physically and emotionally. This job keeps me on my toes and is never boring. I said I didn’t want an “office job” after college, and I certainly got what I wished for. Many of my friends are motivated only by their monthly salary and hope to find a job that better aligns with their passions later in their career. This is what I was fully prepared to do after graduating, but now find myself really in the opposite situation: deeply involved and passionate about my work, but with only enough to get by financially. It’s an obvious tradeoff for me.
But the work is heavy. It weighs on my mind and heart, bleeding into even my time off. It breaks my heart that organizations like Courage have to exist, because the reality of young, vulnerable girls sexually exploited and trafficked – victims of a heartless and vile crime. Balancing out this darkness is the light and joy the girls at Courage truly are. They are resilient and motivated. They are dreamers and world-changers. Now that I’ve been here for almost a year, I have been able to witness some incredible transformations; even from day 1 to week 1, the girls start to heal and blossom.
Two girls I have become particularly close with because of the Courage Leadership Academy program – where the girls learn sewing, computer skills, and advance their English – just recently began university. It was such a privilege to accompany them on their move-in days: seeing them in their new environments, nervous and excited like any new college student is, but with the deep knowing that their life is on a fresh trajectory because of Courage. One of the girls is studying law and wants to fight for the rights of young girls and women in Tanzania, and the other is studying social work and community development. One girl can change her life, which then can change a community, a country, and the world. That’s why I don’t take my job lightly.