Being the son of Lou Haveman, founder of Business Connect, I have had numerous adventures and experiences.  This August was special. I had an opportunity to go to Tanzania with my son, Chris, and nephew, Josiah. We spent three weeks together; going on safari, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, spending time in a Massai village and embracing Africa in all its complexities and ethnicities. This was a trip to complete a promise my dad made to the grandkids saying he would take them on a trip to Africa before they completed high school.  I was replacing him.

The first two days we stayed in Arusha, a place called Echo Impact Center where we learned about agriculture conservation and how they’re helping small farmers be more efficient and productive in the growth of their crops.

Next, on the agenda was a visit to Lake Manayara and Ngorongoro crater for several days of safari. We had an incredible time appreciating the beautiful landscape of the Rift Valley and the wildlife. It is always amazing to see the animals in their natural habitats.

Mt. Kilimanjaro

The highlight of the trip was attempting to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro. For me, the hike was the toughest climb of my life; but the boys did very well. We were all successful in climbing to base camp but only my nephew was able to actually summit. We now know what altitude sickness entails but we were blessed with great weather and fantastic views of Tanzania and Kenya…An incredible experience!

Water Filter Distribution

Our last week was spent with our local Business Connect water distributor, Julius Issaya. He took time to give us a real exposure to the people in Arusha as well as the Massai. We spent one night staying at a local Massai boma where they slaughtered a goat for us and give us an evening barbecue.  We spent the night in a local hut and experienced sleeping on a dirt floor in what Americans might describe as deplorable conditions. Suffice it to say, the kids were glad we only stayed one night.

We met the owner of the boma, Mr. Long Bonnie; who currently has six wives and another two that passed away. He has 165 children and grandchildren and is 105 years old. The boys enjoyed a game of soccer with some of the kids while I played with some of the other children.

We spent the day distributing water filters to a Massai family and educating them on how to use, clean and maintain the bucket filter as well as teach them how beneficial clean water will be to their family. It was fascinating to watch their surprise at how clean the water became when using the filter.

Julius also took us to the local hot springs where we were able to enjoy an afternoon of swimming and hanging out.  We enjoyed a day at the market where the boys had the opportunity to hone their bartering skills; something they became quite good at and was a talking point when returning home. 

We stopped at a place called Small Things.  It is a one-stop ministry where struggling families get assistance, day care, work toward family reunification, and job skill training.  Our water ministry is partnering with them in the training and provision of clean and safe water.   

A couple of major take away observations:

  • In the United States we have an extraordinary variety of amenities.
  • Lifestyle differences are significant.
  • Animals and people are everywhere.  Businesses are set up along any road.  Life is lived outside.
  •  Although people don’t have a lot of material things, they are so friendly.
  • My biggest take away from this experience was how the people in Tanzania take care of children that are not their own. It truly is about community… a refreshing change from the United States.
  • We sure could learn from other parts of the world.