After ten years organising Gap Year experiences from a company in Marlborough and managing worthwhile volunteering projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America, Michaela Scarr decided to take a Gap Year of her own. It has led to a dramatic change of life.
In 2017 ex St John’s student Michaela, now 30, had lived in Marlborough all her life. Now, she has settled in Tanzania and together with her partner, has set up the Luna Foundation and a tour company – Luna Safari.
Michaela told marlborough.news: “I went to Tanzania to lead a volunteer group through this beautiful land and together we taught English classes and renovated classrooms across the country. It was amazing… I fell so in love with Tanzania that I gave up my house, sold my belongings and headed back to Tanzania to start my own organisation.”
“I wanted to come up with a sustainable way in which I could support the local people in Tanzania, which to this day remains one of the world’s poorest countries. Our tour company runs in conjunction with Luna Foundation – a percentage of the cost of every trip goes directly towards supporting children and families from the poorest backgrounds across the country.
“Many of the schools we support help to offer education for children who live in more remote areas and who would otherwise miss out. T hrough our support and through donations they’re able to cover transport for those children, food and even boarding to make their education possible.
“Creating a sustainable way in which I’m able to positively contribute to the lives of others in developing countries has always been a dream of mine. I’m humbled daily by the people here and incredibly proud of the work that we’re doing.”
Luna Safari offers budget and luxury safaris, together with beach holidays on Zanzibar and trekking one of the many routes up Mount Kilimanjaro. There are ready made packages on the Luna website to choose from. The company will also devise tailor-made trips for singles, couples and families based around their time frame, dreams of Africa and their budget.
“We encourage everyone who travels with us to come along and visit one or two of the projects that they’re directly helping to support while they’re here with us and that’s always a really special experience. We also accept volunteers who are interested in contributing part of their trip to helping at the local children’s projects, teaching, cooking, sports, art projects and more.
“We love the fact that our company is small, it means that we’re able to put our heart and soul into every African adventure that we organise. It’s a lot more personal than travelling with one of the many monster sized companies which can be found online.
“Our guests are treated like family. Apart from me, all of our staff are local Tanzanian – the passion and love that they have for their country shines through in everything that we do here.”
Michaela believes that booking with a locally based company is generally cheaper as customers don’t have to cover the huge overheads that many UK and USA based companies have. “It is,” she says, “a lot more authentic, a lot more local and a lot of fun.”
“The last sixteen months of my life have been an absolute whirlwind but I wouldn’t change a single second of it. It’s safe to say that my heart now bears Africa shaped footprints.
“The people here are a huge part of what makes this place so magical, let alone the fact I’m
living out a true life Lion King story. I count my lucky stars every day to be in such a truly beautiful part of the world.”
You can also find information on Facebook and Instagram as well as Tripadvisor.