Saturday, October 13, 2007

A trip to the village

A picture of Geoff and I outside of Iringa, wading by a river.

The sunset from Iringa town

My new friends from my Memory Book workshops with our counterparts. We learned how to succesfully reach out to families affected by HIVAIDS and orphans. GREAT seminar!

My counterpart, Mr. Vanjetho(striped shirt) and his new friend from Pemba. Mr V is one of my adult ed. students

Miss Megan and I-she is my new hero...was the leader of the seminar and did the entire week in Kiswahili. SO motivational for me.

Some friends of mine hanging out on a rock in Iringa

Relaxing after the seminar on a rock, baskin in the sun.

These two women sell Mandazi(like fried donuts) everyday to all the students and the teachers. I beleive one of them is a known witch doctor in my village(the one standing). They are helping cook ugali, beans, rice, and pilau(spiced rice) for Agnes's wedding.

Mr. Stan(the shorter of the 2) and the other guy are the gaurds at my school-Mr Stan is also an English student of mine. They are preparing to gaurd the graduation ceremony.

All the parents/friends/neighbors that came to show their support to all the Form 4 graduates. The funny thing about this graduation is that not all the students are going to pass their national examination...and if they fail, they can't continue their education at a government school(and that usually means that they start working in the family farm, instead of trying to get into a private school to take the exam again). The parents are lining up to throw a necklace or two around the grad's neck, and shower them in shiny gifts and hollar African style(the tongue waggles back and forth as they yell at a somewhat high pitch/tone)

"Karibu Sana Wageni Wetu"
You are Welcome our guests

written on the board of my Form 3 classroom. We(staff and form 4 parents that wanted to) ate lunch there on the day of graduation

This is the kitchen at my school. The big vats are used to cook Ugali/rice/beans for the students that are boarding there.

One of my HIVAIDS friends, also the cook at our school. She is carrying a pitcher of 'common', a local made alcohol, looking like the color and texture of vomit on her head to deliver to the gaurds. She is cooking Kachumbali, a mix of cut up tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, green pepper and carrots(or, really, whatever's available) mixed with salt. Its GREAT!

Form 4 graduates, waiting for their ceremony to start. In the background is my school and at the top of the hill in the distance is the mission hospital, or where I go to talk on the phone:)

One of my 'Habari Hill' kids....everytime I reach this part of the road to the dukas(the small shops) a gaggle of children comes out of every nook and cranny to give me these HUGE hugs and smiles. She is one of my favorite(still don't know her name). I swear I am the Pied Piper of children in my village.

Most of the Habari Hill gang. The boy in red doing Karate always asks me to sing a song to him in English and he tries SO hard to mimic me...and how cute is the little girl on the bottom right-she was so excited to have her picture taken that she fell on the ground, rolled around a few times and giggled. I swear most of these kids aren't getting the love they crave-mom and dad are too busy at the shamba or making local brew or dying of HIV. Breaks my heart every time...yes I crave their love just as much as they want mine.


My besti, Agnes, getting married. In TZ, brides and grooms look absolutely miserablewhen they are at their wedding party. In this pic, they are getting ready to cut the cake-we are having their party in the dining hall at my school.

Form 4 graduation....we spent all week preparing our school for the big event. classes were canceled so we could build teh stage(aka duquis) and decorate it with bed sheets and streamers. tops of pine trees were cut down and thousands of calla lilies from the forest were collected to decorate around the stage and school. These students in this picture are here to watch the ceremony.

This is a view from Mr. Fox's Farm to my village on the top of the distant hiltop. The faint white you can see is the mission hospital a NGO is trying to rebuild and the Catholic Church

These are beans from my bean farm in my courtyard. They are drying right now, and when they are done drying, we beat them with a large stick to remove the bean from the husk. The dried beans last FOREVER...I swear I'll be eating beans until I am sick at my house.

Another view or my beans in my courtyard from my outside kitchen. My front door is open and my student is helping me wash my dishes. The student in the green sweater, Zamda, helped me harvest beans that day.

A strawflower in my garden-it closes tightly if theer is any rain, and opens only when its sunny. When you touch it, it feels like straw(completley dried)

Apparently you can eat both the flowers and leaves of these flowers-which are taking over my fence(pretty, huh?)

Issa and Willi, 2 months after being in an orphanage. Issa has gained weight-he is 5. willi is 3 and is now smiling!!! No scabies, no worms, no cough...big bellies and they are speaking in Kiswahili now(instead of their tribal language) I full out cried when I saw how well they were doing. It was a 180 degree difference-they were different children than the ones that I had brought in 2 months earlier.

Fish out of water?

A students at a performance for visitors at a primary school.

The 'dance team' at the primary school. They all walked to school on a Sunday afternoon (their only day of 'rest')...some about 2.5 hours.....just to dance in their leaf skirts

The little girl in the middle couldn't get it quite right....I think she is trying to 'earn' her leaf skirt. the whole performance, she was a couple steps behind the other girls, but she always looked so determined and focused.

Friday, October 05, 2007

living on a prayer

Right now, I am sitting in a wonderful internet cafe, having just finished an amazing seminar on how to help, pschosocially, OVC's and PLWHA. After my last blog, majority of you must think that I am in the pit of despair-do not be fooled, life is hard here-full of corruption and poverty and sadness....yet there is also that flip of the coin-and this week I had a chance to work with some of the people that make that side of the coin GLEAM....We worked on a project on making memory books, made by parents for their children, telling them about their family history, their goals for their children....letters of pictures the children might like to have when they are older....and also how to encourage OVC's(orphans and vulnerable children) to self actualize by making HERO books. nani ni shujaa? MIMI NI SHUJAA!(who is a hero? I AM A HERO!) I am excited to take this project back to my village-and my counterpart I took with me may be even more enthusiastic than me! it helps the kids focus their goals, discuss their obstacles in life, what challenges they face and how the 'hero' of the book (them) can overcome the obstacles to obtain their goals. Its really a beautiful project for those children living here-some have never had a chance to use crayons or markers, had someone say soemthing nice about them, or thought that they might be able to obtain their future goal in life. The people at this seminar were very inspiring for me-not only did my vocabulary triple in size(the entire seminar was ONLY IN KISWAHILI-for 1 whole week), but the ideas and stories of these people's lives and projects they are working on are really encouraging. Even if they never read this blog, I want to give a cheers to every one of those people in the seminar. Inspirational is an understatement.

In my life, things are going ok-my semester is continuing forth, I had a wonderful fall break-i was able to visit my friend from the US-she was in Kenya working and had a chance to make her way to TZ....went to a coffee plantation and learned the entire process of harvesting/selling....and was able to help a little-tried to see the crater for the second time, but was efforts weren't enough. the prices were just raised in April to some astronomical price($50 per non resident, $200 for the entrance fee OF THE CAR, and about $150 to rent the car). a little disappointing, but it was still fun to go on a hike around the coffee.

In my village, half my adult education students just left to start the preform class at a private secondary school and the other half is continuing with me until January(they will ALL start form 1 in Jan.) I was able to see most of those that went to preform over the weekend, and they are doing so well, and love being at school-they are working off their tuition by building the school. It's an amazing thing-giving a person a chance at an education. My appreciation for my schooling and all the opportunities given to me in extra curricular activities has exponentially increased by living here. Most schools had at least 5 extra curricular activites...we have none. no arts, no music no sports. imagine the potential most of these kids have and will never get to try.... Form 4 just graduated last friday and we had an all day celebration-students prepared songs and dances, raps and skits....even a karate demo! It was great! soon the Form 2's will be taking their national exam and leave school for the year, and form 1 and 3 will be the last one's left. Unfortunatly for me this year, I am only teaching form 1 and 3, so my job doesn't finish until the very end....Lucky and unlucky for me next year is that I will be teaching Form 2 and 4, so I will finish teaching early, but will also have a HUGE work load while they are in school.

My beans are all harvested, my wheat is just being started to harvest, and I have1.5 months left to teach. 8 weeks of craziness! wish me luck!!!!