Last week, I traveled to Dodoma with Marc Driesenga (HOPAC’s Bible teacher) and 17 eleventh and twelfth graders from HOPAC for the annual SEW (Service Emphasis Week). Just outside Dodoma, Allen Conrad and his wife Jennifer have started developing a plot of land with the dream of starting an orphanage, Aljeco Home Organization. Their vision is to built several small homes, allowing 5-6 children to be placed in each home with a “mama,” thus maintaining the family structure so vital to Tanzanian culture. Our task, as the Aljeco 19 SEW team, was to assist him in the development of this plot of land. We cleared nearly the entire two-acre plot of weeds and overgrown grass using jembes (essentially a cross between a hoe and a shovel), helped to cover an old well with concrete, worked on the block walls, and completed other odd jobs. I enjoyed the work. But people say I’m crazy. And maybe I am. But really, it felt good to be out in the sun doing hard physical labor. Growing up on a “farm” will do that to you, I guess.
Overall though, it was a great week. I learned a lot about leadership, and about the students I was working with. Some students worked harder than I did, others did their best not to work at all. Some of the students I expected to avoid work, didn’t, and some of the ones I thought would work hard, didn’t. My idea of leading by example by working as hard as I could ended up in a few more humble brags than I’d like to admit escaped my lips, and I fear wasn’t as effective as I’d hoped. But live and learn. Already, I’m looking forward to next year’s SEW week!