By Solomon Herring
Today I had the privilege of volunteering at a dog show hosted by Mbwa wa Africa, a non profit dedicated to providing homes to stray dogs in the Arusha area. Upon my arrival, I was immediately blown away by the stunning natural beauty of the venue. I was surrounded by a tropical wonderland, with exquisite greenery, and rolling hills. In the distance stood mount Meru, a colossal volcano, and the second highest peak in Tanzania. The fields that surrounded myself and other guests were packed with animals, such as wildebeests, gazelles, and horses, who all roamed freely.
Most importantly, however, I had the privilege of interacting with people of many different backgrounds, who all came together, united by the same cause of providing underprivileged dogs with loving homes. The event was quite lively, with festive music, wonderful food, and friendly people. I had the chance to talk with not only locals from the Arusha area, but expats from all over the world. My first interaction was with a food vendor, who was born here in Arusha. I had shared my experiences and my first impressions of the city, and he told me that Arusha is commonly known as “Mini-London”. I then purchased some delicious samosas and spring rolls and ended up coming back for more and more throughout the event. From there, I went to a Norwegian coffee vendor, who had been living in Arusha for 20 years. Throughout her time in Tanzania, she has made her living by owning her own coffee roastery. The process she uses to make her own coffee consists of purchasing beans from a fair-trade source, roasting them, and selling the products to local markets here in Tanzania. I had the chance to try some of her coffee, and it was exceptionally tasty, much better than a cup from Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks back in the US.
Despite the fact that I was one of the only people from the United States at the event, I was able to interact with someone from my home country, who was working in Tanzania with a women’s group. The group she was with had their own stall, where they sold a wide array of beautiful jewelry and other various trinkets. Furthermore, she has been utilizing her background in microfinance to provide local Tanzanians with interest free loans, in order to allow them to start their own business. We bonded over the fact that her approach to aiding the people of Tanzania was much more effective than countless NGO’s, who simply provide poor and underprivileged people with food and supplies, guaranteeing that they will become reliant on outside aid, and stay caught in a cycle of poverty. Last, but definitely not least, I made friends with a local Tanzanian, by the name of David, who owns his own hostel and safari company. I also got to meet his adorable dog, whom he had brought to the show. We bonded throughout the entire show, and he shared stories of his travels all over the world. Finally, we exchanged Instagram accounts, and he ended up treating me to a local beer.
After a long morning of socializing and making small talk, I finally got to see what so many had come for, which was the dog show. There were several unique events, such as a Yoga competition, dog race, and agility test, which tested how well dog owners were able to lead their pets through an obstacle course. The most entertaining part of this event was watching competitors lead their dogs through a small tunnel. This proved to be the most challenging part of the obstacle course, as utilizing creative thinking was a necessity in order to be successful. Numerous approaches were used, such as laying down treats in order to lead the dog through the tunnel. However, many competitors simply crawled through it themselves and hoped that their dogs would follow them. The race was also quite entertaining, particularly when the dogs forgot what they were doing, and just sniffed around the field.
The entire show was a heaven for dog lovers, with petting booths, where you could be swarmed by loving puppies. There were photo booths where dog owners were able to get a cute picture of their best friend. The event featured a wide variety of different breeds, further adding to the diverse atmosphere of the event. Not only were guests able to interact with dogs, but ride horses as well. Furthermore, the event was a blast for children, who were running around with their dogs, and playing in bouncy castles. Needless to say, people and dogs from all walks of life were able to come together for a lovely afternoon of fun.
All in all the Mbwa Wa Africa dog show was a spectacular event, where people of all cultures and backgrounds were able to bond over their love for animals. It was great to be in an environment where I could have so much fun interacting with people from all over the world, while at the same time, contributing to a worthwhile cause. I would recommend Mbwa Wa Africa to anyone in the Arusha area who is looking to find a new pet, as they are an exceptionally kindhearted organization, with a passionate commitment for providing safe homes for loving dogs.