On my trip to Tanzania in 2008 I felt that although I was volunteering at a school for students with disabilities, my main function turned out to be to provide unintentional comic relief for the people I met there. We all have skills!
When I was there, it was the start of the short rainy season. Each morning, a van drove all of the volunteers to their placements. One morning it was pouring and the already rough dirt roads were becoming pretty challenging to drive on. At one point we got totally stuck in the mud. I jumped out with a couple of other brave, or crazy, souls to push. We braced our hands on the back of the van as we pushed it out. In the pouring rain and with mud flying from the spinning wheels, we finally felt the wheels find traction and the van rolled out of the mud. We were proud, we cheered, we high fived, and then we realized that the van was on the other side of the dirt road, which had become a river and we were left on the opposite side.
My friend Jean and I shrugged and hiked our long skirts up as we held hands to help steady ourselves as we crossed the rushing, knee deep, muddy water. About half way across my flip-flop washed off of my foot and went shooting away. I clambered out and ran along the river chasing my flip-flop. Another volunteer was able to rescue it and bring it back to me. We climbed back on the van, victorious! Across the road we could see some locals under the overhang of a building, cracking up at our show.
I made it to my school before any of the teachers and sat under the small concrete building’s little overhang, watching the pouring rain, looking at my wet, muddy skirt and flip-flops and thinking about what a fabulous time I was having.