Bagamoyo means ‘lay down your heart’, when translated from Kiswahili to English. When I was 18, I signed up to volunteer in East Africa after seeing a poster outside my college cafeteria advertising for the trip. ‘Fuck it,’ I said, and applied, and was the absolute last person to do so. Little did I know, this entire experience would change my perspective and life something fierce.
In 2009, I spent about 4 weeks working in an orphanage in Tanzania called IMUMA. In 2010, I returned as a student leader and brought about 15 students. We worked in IMUMA, the orphanage, in UHURU, an artist collective and school for street children and teens, and in AMAP, which was similar to pre-school.
I can honestly say my love of travel is shown in these photos. I lived in the village with the other people, I didn’t wear makeup and hardly used a cell phone for this time. I learned Swahili and slang, I drank banana beer and danced to reggae. I watched the sunrise off the rooftop of our building with some of the most amazing people I’ve met. I skinny dipped in the Indian Ocean, racing three other girls to the beach. I slept on the sand, in a hammock, and napped under the stars. I ate strange food, and met incredible humans, who impacted me forever.
This is a place which, if I could encourage anyone to go anywhere, it would be to Bagamoyo, and to Tanzania. It’s a destination for other Africans, who travel across the continent to see the beautiful beaches here. I explored Dar Es Salaam, the capital, Bagamoyo, the village where we worked, and Kigamboni, the most beautiful beach I’ve ever laid step on.
My eyes are older now, and my heart’s been hardened by a few things, but this place reminds me of who I was when I was 18.