We arrived in Kyela, after a long, slow journey from Dar to Mbeya. The 26 hour train journey took us past game reserves, through tea plantations and over rickety bridges. We were very excited as we headed further and further into the unknown! In Kyela we were met by Emily, The Mango Tree’s UK Fundraiser, she showed us around and was able to fill us in on TMT’s work. Our first challenge was the language. Our Swahili is pretty basic and despite our attempts to get to grips with simple greetings, we very quickly realised how ill-equipped we were. Talking to students at Kyela Polytechnic College (KPC), we realised that most students’ level of spoken English was very basic. We were therefore keen to resolve this issue by offering English classes.

Encouraged by their enthusiasm, we set about organising an English language club. Initially we felt a little daunted to be younger than all of our students, especially when they assumed we were university graduates not A Level graduates! But we soon settled into a routine of running classes four times a week. It’s been hugely rewarding to see how well attended these classes are and to watch the students becoming more vocal.
It has been so interesting learning more about The Mango Tree’s activities in the surrounding villages, and having the opportunity to work with and get to know The Mango Tree team.

In our first week we were introduced to The Mango Tree HIV/AIDS awareness dance group. We were inspired by their lively and entertaining dances and decided to join in. We even made a short film about them.
Along with the videos of the dance group, we also recorded a series of interviews with the friends and family of Edson, a Mango Tree supported orphan from Ngonga, We cycled to Ngonga village to spend time with Edson’s family. And through Edson’s translation we were able to have some fascinating conversations about local life, culture and practices.