Out of Africa

I’m traveling to Africa next week. It’s a family trip, it’s a personal trip, and it’s a school trip. (For good and for ill, I’ve never been great about keeping those things disentangled.)

My daughter, Jenny (who graduated from Trinity’s eighth grade in 2004, when we didn’t have a ninth grade), has been living in Tanzania since late June. She took a semester off from Duke and arranged to volunteer at some organizations in Moshi, Tanzania, through the help and connections of Duke doctor and Trinity parent Nathan Thielman. Desiree and I are both going to visit Jenny, who has scheduled a full week for us: visit the Amani Children’s home, tour KIWAKKUKI (an AIDS and HIV NGO started by local Tanzanian women, where Jenny volunteers), see the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (which has a strong connection to Duke). We’ll get to meet many of the Tanzanian and international friends Jenny has made during her stay, visit her favorite coffee shops and internet cafés, and share her world for a week.

I’ve never been to this great continent before, and I’m thrilled to broaden my horizons. I know it will be a challenge—I’ve watched Jenny go through many frustrations and adjustments in her living and volunteering plans. Western efficiency is not a high value there, and I think it will be very good for my soul to spend a couple of weeks walking places, waiting longer than I like, missing simple pleasures and conveniences. We will get to visit the local bazaar, see a coffee plantation, and go on a short safari to the NgoroNgoro crater. The International Tribunal for Rwandan Genocide is in Arusha, and we will visit there as well.

We will also have a chance to see some schools in Africa. One of Jenny’s most rewarding projects so far has been to start a running club at a school called Mawenzi—a local Tanzanian school, not an international school. She had some forty girls sign up for this club, and we will get to meet them (Desiree and her friends have packed small gift bags for each). We will also visit the International School in Moshi, one of the most renowned schools in East Africa, serving international families (missionaries and aid workers) and children of wealthy East African families. And then at the end of our trip, Desiree and I will fly to Johannesburg and drive to visit Mukanyo Christian School, a fledgling school in one of South Africa’s poorest regions. Trinity played a part in the birthing of that school a year ago—it was the dream of the late friend of Trinity, Beth Retig, and Trinity parent Keith Brown has carried the vision forward into reality. Desiree and I will tour the school and meet with the Principal and some of the board members. I’m very glad to make this personal visit to see what God is doing there.

I will be away from October 19 through November 3. Trinity’s Board is fully supportive of this trip—in fact they have included study leave and travel in my contract, and they have encouraged me to go. The TPO provided me with some funding for this trip. Our strong Senior Staff team has been briefed on my trip and I leave the school in good hands. I have appointed Warren Gould to be in charge in my absence, and I will be checking in with him a few times over the course of my trip. Three years ago, former Trinity parent Paul Passaro asked me to go on a trip to South Africa and I had to turn him down—there was just no way. I am deeply grateful that all the pieces have fallen into place for us to do this now.

I’m going to try to update my blog a few times during the trip. Internet connections in Africa can be unreliable, but I’ll give it try. You can also follow me on Twitter, which I’ve linked to on the right sidebar here.

Thank you for your partnership. I look forward to telling you some stories on my return.


Chip Denton


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