It was during the solo at the end of my Outward Bound course, while gazing across a seemingly endless landscape, when I promised myself I would make an impact in the world and be more than just a speck on the horizon. At the time, I was 19 years old and had no idea that small promise would lead me to Tanzania four years later to work with a family-run orphanage and to create The Amani Aid Project.
Nestled on the southern side of Kilimanjaro lies the Kao La Amani Orphanage, home to 27 children, the orphanage mother and father and five caretakers. I was the first “mzungu” or white foreigner to live at the orphanage in Boma Ng’ombe, Tanzania. I stayed for three months in the fall of 2010. By listening and participating in daily life, I learned where I was needed.
Over the course of the first couple weeks, I learned of the orphanage’s struggles to pay its bills in the absence of a sustainable revenue stream. Working closely with the family, we decided to pursue an ambitious pig-farming project.
Tanzania is an agricultural country and pigs can be very profitable. The family already had several pigs; four were pregnant. I began fundraising and was able to raise enough money through my blog to build a 27-room pig barn and a water system capable of sustaining 54 adult pigs. Proceeds of the project subsidize food costs, medical expenses and school fees.
To launch the Aid Project, I tapped into many of the skills learned during my Outward Bound course, including self-reliance, empathy and courage. My instructors helped me discover my true strengths and confront my weaknesses. While my days during the project were emotionally and physically challenging, I knew from my Outward Bound experience that if I just kept at it, good things would happen.
Josh McLane is a 2007 Outward Bound alum and TEDx speaker. A graduate of Colgate University with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Economics, Josh currently lives in Chicago, Ill., where he works as a Management Consultant.
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