Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Kayla Casey's volunteer trip

Sent: Monday, September 12, 2016 9:52 AM

Subject: [Corpus Christi 10062 Mail] Kayla Casey's volunteer trip

To the Knights of Columbus: 

Ever since reading Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza, and seeing how much she valued her education, my dream has been to teach English in Africa. This past summer, I got to live out that dream in Tanzania, thanks to an organization called GIVE Volunteers (Growth International Volunteer Excursions). While the program was only for two weeks, it clarified for me that I one day hope to be able to live in a country like Tanzania and teach. I left Phoenix on July 19th, 2015, not knowing exactly what to expect, and I returned on August 5th a changed person, with new friends from around the United States and Tanzania and a completely new perspective on life. 
For about a week and a half, I, along with 12 other college students from around the United States, lived in a small village called Kairo on the eastern tip of the island of Zanzibar. We worked together with the villagers to construct a school, and we tutored some of the local teenage boys and young men in English. In our free time, we got to explore the village, support the locals by buying souvenirs at their shops, hang out on the beach, spend time with the children, and get to know the boys and they way they live. On our days off, we got to go swimming with wild dolphins in the Indian Ocean, we walked through a forest that was home to wild red colobus monkeys, we went sailing from the northern tip of the island, and when we returned to the mainland Tanzania, we traveled to Arusha and got to go on a two-day safari, where we saw many elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, birds of all kinds, a rhino, a cheetah, and even a lioness! 
During my time on the island, I got to experience what life in a small village in Africa is like-from eating on the floor with my right hand, to drinking water fresh out of a coconut, and walking around barefoot and showering in salt water, to buying a goat (which we watched get killed and then ate for dinner). When the time came to leave the wonderful village of Kairo that I know I can now call a home, I didn't want to say goodbye to the village, the island, or the wonderful people that were so welcoming to our group. 

My two weeks in Africa, but especially my week and a half on Zanzibar, was the greatest, most incredible experience of my life; it was amazing, and eye-opening, and life-changing. The people of the village have NOTHING, but they are the happiest and most grateful people I have ever met. My time in Kairo inspired me to change the way I live, to stop taking things for granted, to live my life more simply, and to be grateful for the things I do have. I know that the village and the people of Kairo will always be in my heart and mind, and I will always be able to call Kairo my home. I can even picture myself eventually moving to Zanzibar, building a house, and becoming a teacher in the school that I helped build with GIVE. But until then, I will continue to keep in touch with the boys that I got to know (via Facebook), continue working on their English with them, and continue to practice the basic Swahili that I learned in my time in Tanzania. I know that it's not goodbye, it's "badae" (which means "see you later" in Swahili. Hakuna Matata! (which actually means "no worries") 

Now it's been a little over a year since I left the village of Kairo, and when I left there in August of 2015, I said "badae" (see you later), rather than "goodbye." I knew I would be returning to Zanzibar. And here I am, a year later, and I've paid my deposit to return to Tanzania for four weeks with GIVE in the summer of 2017 (I will be in Zanzibar from June 5-29, 2017). 
However, a year ago, I didn't know how much the term "wanderlust" would describe me. I have recently consulted with people close to me, and with help from my weekly income from Red Lobster, I decided to also GO TO THAILAND! My plan is to take part in the 2 1/2 week GIVE program in Thailand before heading to Tanzania (Zanzibar) for a month (and another week to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro!!!) 
I came to the realization that I no longer want to travel the world just to travel. That seems pointless to me, when there's people that need help. Besides, when will I be at a better time in my life to travel to underdeveloped nations? 

Please consider visiting my gofundme account and leaving a donation: gofundme.com/helpKaylahelpCairo. Other forms of donations can be given to my parents and/or my grandparents! 
ANY and all support is GREATLY appreciated. I cannot wait to share my adventures with all of you. I am extremely thankful to those of you that have helped in the past, and I thank you in advance for the support, both financial and otherwise, and the prayers. 

Thank you and God Bless, 
Kayla Casey 
(daughter of Kevin and Marsha Casey, granddaughter of Richard and Edna Armanini, junior at Northern Arizona University, Seton Catholic Prep class of 2014)