Sometimes in life you are blessed with meeting people who really shape you as a person. On my travels in Tanzania, I was lucky enough to meet a few people who have changed me for the better. Melissa being one of them. Many friends of mine would agree that she not only has a hunger for adventure but a mastered ability to live life to it’s fullest. Never devoid of a smile, Melissa truly has a beautiful soul. Her positive energy and peace and love attitude makes it hard for anybody to be miserable in her presence. She has not only accomplished wonderful things but has her sights set on achieving more. Here is a small insight into Melissa’s traveling past and future ahead of her.
Describe yourself in 3 words:
Why did you decide to go traveling?
I decided I didn’t want to continue with my American Corporate hamster wheel life. Therefore traveling and advocacy work became my passions and priorities in life and here I am.
When did your backpacking journey begin?
3 years ago!
What are your Top 3 Countries?
my Top 3 countries are Spain, Thailand & Slovenia.
What brought you to Tanzania?
I have always been drawn to Africa. I plan on spending at least 5 years in various countries and working on different projects. A mutual childhood friend connected me to the founder of Pamoja Tunaweza Boys and Girls Club.
What is your role at the Pamoja Tunaweza Boys & Girls Club?
My roles at Pamoja consist of Donor relations, communications, program development and community outreach.
What has been your highest point so far in Tanzania?
Working with the kids everyday is so inspiring. Watching them grow, embrace new ideas and skills and working together as a team. Their gratitude and sincere appreciation to have someone believe in them is indescribable.
What has been your lowest point?
While there is so much joy in the success stories, it is a constant heartbreak to learn so many stories and situations people here struggle with. It can all be a bit overwhelming at times, but one must focus on the positive.
What advice would you give for people considering visiting and volunteering in Tanzania?
Even the most open minds and flexible travelers will struggle from time to time with even the most basic cultural differences. You must be patient and try to have as few expectations about anything as possible. When working with the local community, especially the youth, It can be challenging to to try to find a balance between introducing western ways, concepts and philosophies and embracing their cultural and point of reference.
What is your plan for the next 5 years?
I plan to continue traveling. Mostly through Africa. Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, Madagascar volunteering and consulting for various NGO’s. I plan to continue traveling until I find a place that just pulls me and won’t let me go, and eventually open a hostel with an NGO and community outreach component, most likely somewhere near the sea.
To contribute to the Pamoja Tunaweza Boys and Girls Club and support the work Melissa and the team do, Please donate at OneNDoto!