Making A Difference Safari • February 2016
Just five short years ago, I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Pete O’Neal, after reading an article in the Los Angeles Times, about his exile in Tanzania.
I knew I’d be traveling to Tanzania the following month, so I asked my driver to see if he could find him. There were only vague references in the article about where he lived. So I put my feelers out, and someone on Facebook emailed me back with Charlottte’s cell phone number.
I called her. She was very gracious and invited me up to the house, on my next visit. I told her I’d be there in two months. She told me where they lived, and I told my driver. It wasn’t an easy place to find, but on that trip, (we didn’t account for the bumpy and almost inaccessible road), but without much time to spare, already late for the airport check-in), we arrived.
I ran into his house, quickly introduced myself and told him I would love to talk more with him, and would love for my travel groups to meet him. I politely asked if he would he mind if I brought them when I returned two months later. He said of course, you’re always welcome.
I quickly snapped a photo with he and Mama C as she is affectionately known., shown below. I’m sure he thought I was crazy and he’d never see me again, but he did see me, then and every year at least twice a year since then, he’s seen me and my groups. I’ve spent time with him alone, and we are now ‘family’.
When I arrived with my group, as promised, a couple of months later, he was stunned when we came with suitcases and backpacks housing all the things they needed for the school: childrens clothes, my dentist sent 150 toothbrushes and toothpaste, household and first aid items, books, educational materials, DVDs, and of course money.
I think he was overwhelmed. Truly now, we are brother and sister in spirit. We have shared many things, including what started me on this journey in 2005 and his journey some 42 years ago.
I know those times, but hearing it directly from Pete, was something I knew I’d never get from any history book. My journey from adversity to passion, was the catalyst that changed my life, forever, and Pete, and UAACC and my traveling guests are a major part of that.
To date, Destined To Travel, LLC has taken many groups, shared many times, stories and ideas, and brought many many items of use to the children and the school. We are the only travel agency supporting UAACC and the Leaders of Tomorrow Children’s Home, though UAACC receives many visitors throughout the year.
Through our agency, one of my guests was the initiator for funding to bring solar into the school.
They are now no longer held hostage by the frequent power outages throughout the country, they now operate with the much needed solar system.
And, when one of the oldest girls was about to be left out of school for non-payment of tuition, another of my guests stepped up and paid the tuition for the next two years, assuring her completion of boarding school.
We continue to provide support to UAACC and we continue to make a difference.
This past February, our inaugural MAKE A DIFFERENCE safari was implemented. Seven skilled and talented travelers spent a week with the children and shared them with the kids. It was the most rewarding trip and experience for everyone.
With the skills and talents of a doctor, a historian, computer experts, teacher, fitness trainer, storyteller, drum majorette and artist, in the house, success was imminent.
It was so successful, that several are doing it again next year and bringing new guests with them to participate on this experience.
I am so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the short time we’ve gotten together.
I am grateful for that article, for meeting Pete and Charlotte and all the wonderful children that are now residents of UAACC.
A big thanks for all my guests who have stepped up to make a difference in the lives of themselves, and all that participate in this fabulous organization. More on the trip experience to come. Stay tuned.
Would you like to participate on the May 2017 Make a Difference safari. You can!
Please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you an application and information.