"I’m sitting here on the front porch of the COSAD house and there is a wonderful cooling breeze under a cloudless blue African sky. The native birds are calling and singing as I watch the banana trees gently sway with the wind. Inside the house, the team is relaxing to music after another lunch of rice, beef stew, cabbage slaw, potatoes and avocados. Today is a great day in Bukoba." —GCN trip participant
The GCN Team will be living and working with the Bahaya people in the community of Bukoba, a rural area that rests alongside Lake Victoria. Mostly farmers of corn, coffee, fruits and vegetables, the Bahaya people speak Kihaya, Swahili and English. GCN’s host is Mr. Smart Baitani, the founder and executive director of COSAD, an organization whose mission is to bring economic stability to the region. Mr. Baitani lived in the Twin Cities in Minnesota for several years and returned to Bukoba to oversee the development of a community center that will serve as COSAD’s headquarters and a starting point for local businesses to receive microloans.
Team members will meet each other in Entebbe, Uganda and stay the night in the city. The following day, the team will travel by private transportation for approximately 4-5 hours to Bukoba, a small, flat, compact town with a sandy beach. Crossing the Ugandan/Tanzanian border along Lake Victoria, the team will be greeted by their hosts and get settled into their accommodations, provided by COSAD. Many participants choose to extend their stay after the GCN program to go on a safari, taking a ferry to Mwanza to meet their guides and return to their homes via the Kilimanjaro airport (JRO).
A Day in Community
A morning starts with a choir of song birds who are later joined by the sounds of goats and cows. After a breakfast of pineapple, bread, eggs and coffee, the team gets to work on the project site with the community. Some of the tasks may include digging, laying bricks, or painting the COSAD community center. Other projects have also included building goat pens and water retention systems. After a lunch of rice, vegetables, ugali and chicken, the team may return to the community project work or enjoy listening to the Imuka singers practice for their concerts, play soccer or volleyball with the kids, or assist at a local school or community clinic. The team may walk along the sandy beach in the warm afternoon sun before a dinner of sambusas, samosas, vegetable masala or chicken and mushrooms. Each night the team holds a meeting to reflect on the celebrations, challenges and cultural exchanges they experienced during the day and may end with a game before heading to their beds for rest.
Program fees cover on-site accommodations (lodging and meals), in-country transportation, orientation materials, a donation to the project, emergency medical and evacuation insurance, and a team leader to manage logistics and facilitate your cultural immersion experience. Airfare to/from Entebbe, Uganda and/or Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and costs relating to activities outside of the village are an additional responsibility of the individual participant.