Following my multi-day siesta in Nungwi, I took daladala to Stonetown and then a plane to Arusha where I would spend my last couple days traveling alone before Leslie arrived.
This time I found and booked a room in advance so I wouldn’t be stuck accepting rides from strangers with post-apocalyptic hostels and sleeping in a tent (see: Crazy Hostels and New Years in Nungwi). I got a great deal on the room through AirBnB, $20 per night with 3 meals per day, but what made my time in Arusha truly unexpected and inspirational was the owner of the AirBnB, Mama Mackrine, who is by far one of the most accomplished, compassionate, and driven people I have ever met. Aside from renting a few rooms to backpackers, she also rents to volunteers from various international organizations, owns a hair salon, and runs safaris and other trips around Tanzania. If that weren’t already enough, she also started and runs an organization, called HIMS, which provides support for women, children, and people with HIV ranging from food and shelter to programs on sexual education. One of the organizations main focuses, however, is helping Maasai women escape from cultural practices of female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. Because leaving their homes can be extremely difficult and is often dangerous for these young women, Mackrine works with government agencies and the Massai villages to ensure safe passage. After leaving their village, the organization continues to provide assistance through a myriad of different services ranging from employment help to daycare.
If you would like to learn more about Mama Mackrine’s organization or even make a donation, check out her website: http://www.hims-tanzania.org/en/index.html
I definitely wanted Mama Mackrine to be the focus of this blog post, but I did do a few other things while in Arusha, including going for a long hike up Mt. Maru. The hike followed a dirt road through an outlying neighborhood and then abruptly up a very very steep hill with a beautiful view of Arusha as a reward at the top.