“In 2009 I was offered an irresistible opportunity to spend a month in Tanzania photographing the grassroots beginnings of what has now evolved into Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic/WAVE, an organization aiming to build a floating hospital ship to provide ongoing medical services for the people living in the four countries that border the lake: Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Zambia.
I had done a decent amount of traveling both in the U.S. and abroad, but I knew when I boarded the frighteningly small plane to transport us from Dar es Salaam to the remote lakeside sustainable organic farm we called home, I was about to embark on a whole new adventure.
During that month, I celebrated World Malaria Day in Korongwe, participated in a mosquito net delivery via boat to several villages, spontaneously boarded the famous Liemba in the middle of the night, and fulfilled a lifelong dream of going on safari in Katavi National Park, where I got choked up when I first spotted giraffes in the wild amidst the purple dusk and silhouetted trees.
The everyday happenings affected my experience just as much as the aforementioned noteworthy events. Although at home I tend to be impatient, I surprise myself when I’m on the road because I tend to relinquish control to the elements (because nothing seems to ever go as planned) and patience emerges; in rural Tanzania, if the one road leading to the neighboring village is not in tact or currently accessible due to an overturned vehicle, all you can do is wait it out or try again on a different day.
To my amazement, I learned constellations like the Big Dipper appear “upside-down” in the southern hemisphere and saw more stars than I could ever even imagine. I witnessed the most magnificent lightning display one night that illuminated fishing boats on the horizon and the enchanting site of hundreds of frogs–tiny enough to fit atop fingertips–emerging from the earth following a torrential rainstorm.
With only having learned a few words in Swahili, I taught a curious boy from the local village of Kipili, who knew no English, how to use my cameras, and photography served as our primary method of communication.
I marveled at the fact that Lake Tanganyika is one of the most remote places on the planet and contains 20% of the Earth’s fresh water; I found myself gazing at the scenery in awe, often contemplating what this fact means for our collective future…
This trip will always be personally significant because it was in my hotel room, upon arriving in Dar es Salaam (suffering from airplane food poisoning nonetheless), where I learned via e-mail that I had been accepted into graduate school to study Library Science; this was going to be a whole new adventure in itself once I returned to the States. Almost seven years later I am now a librarian in a diverse high school where I do my best to inspire the students to think globally, to consider studying abroad, and to learn about places and cultures beyond the suburbs and around the world. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll end up an international librarian working in the library of a floating hospital!”
100/100 of #100DaysofConfessions Instagram Project
**You can follow more of Alyse’s wanderlust & musings on Instagram at @alysesuzanne, Twitter at @LibrarianForYou and via her personal page of thoughts at http://alyseliebovich.blogspot.com/**