Tanzania with OAT

By Judy Faitek
This item appears on page 30 of the November 2016 issue.
A woman testing the reading glasses as Judy Faitek looks on. Photos by Matt Norton

My niece and nephews, ages 27 to 30, accompanied me on a trip to Tanzania, Aug. 1-12, 2016, with Overseas Adventure Travel, or OAT (Cambridge, MA; 800/955-1925, www.oattravel.com). I had been on safaris twice before, but they had never gone.

I was expecting the animals would be spectacular, and they were. I had never seen so many lions and leopards and their kills as well as zebras, gnus, gazelles, elephants and, my favorite, warthogs. I kept track of all the birds, and we identified 57 different ones. The guides were amazing and had fabulous tracking skills. But, as awesome as our game runs were, that’s not the reason I’m writing.

In Tanzania, we were made very aware of the absence of good water for drinking and household use. One time I used a sink, and filthy water came out. People drink that stuff!

Men holding two of the water filters we gave away.

Our guide took us to a very small “factory” where a man and his family were making water filters by hand. These filters work for five years and provide enough water for a family. 

The filters cost $40 each, and our group bought four of them to give away. We gave them to three different families and left one at a Maasai village. Our guides made sure that the recipients knew how to use the filters and how to clean them. 

This factory is supported through the Grand Circle Foundation (Boston, MA; 800/859-0852, www.grandcirclefoundation.org), which, along with OAT, is part of the Grand Circle Corporation. It’s amazing that, for only $40, you can save lives!

From an OAT publication, I also was made aware of the Reading Glass Project (www.readingglass
, which deals with the need, worldwide, for reading glasses for older people. 

I emailed the project and purchased 25 pairs of reading glasses for about $50. (The cost of the glasses was tax-deductible.) They are first-quality glasses, and the project included instructions on how to fit the people.

I gave away a pair of glasses whenever I met a person whom I thought might need them. In one place, we stopped along the road to see how a family lived. Both the husband and wife accepted the glasses.

Placed on the back of a bicycle, one of the water filters we gave away. Photo by Matt Norton

I gave several pairs away at the school we visited and to some men who were making bricks. One man was so excited, he asked for a pair for his grandmother.

I gave away all of the glasses, and the recipients’ smiles were amazing.  

My niece and nephews said this trip was a life-changing experience for them. This was above and beyond OAT’s usual stops at a school (which was wonderful) and a person’s home. I’m very grateful we were able to take this trip.


San Diego, CA