Life is an Adventure.

Email written on 6th Feb 06.

Mambo from Moshi, Tanzania!
Currently my favorite place on earth!

I have now been here for just over a month and am extremely settled.
The prospect of leaving on Saturday is terribly sad. And the idea of having to zip shut my backpack again is scary!

When I first discovered that I would be teaching 3-6 year olds I was petrified.
I didn't sleep the night before my first day at school and I felt incredibly unprepared.
Teaching is not something that I have ever considered doing nor something I felt qualified to do.
However I soon found it to be rewarding, it is a job that has brought a smile to my face every day!
Please do not misunderstand I have no intention of teaching back in the UK - African children are grateful for the education and affectionate and always smiling!

My classroom Swahili is great - however it does mean I tend to talk to touts on the street like they are 5 years old!
The children love it when I scream my commands in swahili at them! Tena! (Again) Sauti! (Louder)
And my fav 'Poa Chizi Kama n-dizi' - Cool and Crazy like a banana!
When the children get restless I shout 'Stand up! Give me 10 jumps!' At which point they all turn to jack-in-the-boxes jumping and counting to 10! I often shout Tena and have them do up to 50 jumps! Once they sit down they stay quiet for a while!

The class has grown over my time and I now have 26 children.
I have two 3 year olds, about seven 4 year olds, a mass of 5 year olds and then five 6 year olds.
They all come from poor backgrounds; I have 2 orphans who are both HIV positive.
One of my little boys Patrick has recently seen his dad sent to prison. He has a really bad attitude and is constantly testing my patience.
When I first started he was always hitting the other children with sticks. The Swahili teacher would then hit him with a stick as punishment.

I often saw the children beaten with a stick in my first week, it was a tricky situation.
Somehow though I managed to introduce my own form of punishment... the naughty step!
And it works. I haven't seen my children hit once in the last 3 weeks. Although Patrick is still a regular resident of the naughty step I have been working with him closely and I see him soften a bit more every day.

One of the volunteers out here has just had a meeting with the minister for education to discuss the use of the cane. We can but try.

All my children have a sad story to their background and yet they still smile all the time. I'm sure you've seen in my photos!

Highlights of my time include hand painting, a party (balloons, cake, musical bumps!), learning animals, being taught Swahili songs.... it goes on. Their favorite song is old macdonald has a shamba! And on that farm he has (believe it or not) frogs, penguins, snakes.... cue 26 children slithering on the floor!
Most of my lessons end up with me falling on the floor and having them all fall on top of me chanting 'teacher is tired!!!!'

I guess I cant talk about school without a mention of Denis! He now has a little girlfriend called Precious. She is three and looks like uncle fester from the adams family! They spend most of the day doing roley poleys round the room! I have also had to learn to start checking Denis's pockets for insects - I often find butterflies in there! I also made the mistake of laughing when one of the kids picked up a cricket so now my whole class think giving me crickets will make me happy! I get pelted with them at playtime!

Everyday I have tea and bananas in the church house after school. The bananas are always cooked - roasted, boiled, fried. In fact it would seem anyhow as long as they are cooked to the point of making you gag they are so dry and always cooked to ensure all the sweet flavour is gone! Agh! I have politely eaten them everyday though! I hide my disgust by putting on a big smile, rubbing my tummy and saying 'ummmmmm these are delicious!'

The house I have been living in has been fantastic. The staff are amazing and it truly has been home.
I love having watchmen - we feel so safe! Our gardener Leonard has tested my Swahili everyday for 5 weeks and doesn't stop firing it at me until I get one wrong. I can get to about 6 answers now until I stumble!

The dala dalas have never got boring and I look forward to each day wondering what event, livestock or chatty local will board my ride to town.

Receiving my resident’s permit was a fantastic feeling - I truly am a local!

Everyday I have lunch in the 'coffee shop'.
All the volunteers seem to gather there and no matter what time you arrive you will find friends in the garden.
It is a luxury having western food in the coffee shop - however it is often western food with an African twist.
They also bake the most amazing banana cake!
I have become so accustomed to drinking my sodas from a glass bottle that I don't think fanta will ever taste the same again!
After getting off of the dala dala a cold soda is the most welcome sight!

My walk to school has been one of the highlights of my day every day.
Its 1 hour and 15 mins through the shanty town and through the suburb of Majengo. It is bumpy dirt roads the whole way and the amount of children that greet me along the way is overwhelming. They all hold my hands and walk with me for 5 mins. Sometimes I have an army of 20 at a time hanging off of me! The chant of Mzunghu when they see me coming always makes me laugh and they all greet me 'Good Morn Teacher!'

I have tried to make the most of my weekends here.
A group of us spent a Saturday at a waterfall at the base of Kilimanjaro. It was 70 meters high and a trek through jungle to reach it!

It was amazing! We took a local guide to show us the way who said he would bring us lunch.
During the trek the 'packed lunches' were carried in bags by small children. Four hours after picking up the lunches we unwrapped them to find he had got us burger and chips each!!! I think he asked the restaurant to make 20 packed lunches with whatever the white folk like to eat! It was hilarious, and very tasty! After a long trek through african jungle who expects to be able to eat burger and chips at the base of a remote waterfall!!!

One day after school I got the bus 2 hours to arusha to sit in the public gallery of The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to sit in the gallery and observe a genocide trial. It really was history in the making. I went to see the Nsengimana Case. The court is really well run and the proceedings are translated in to various languages which you tune in to via headphones. It was strange hearing someone in the same room talk about 'being trained to kill' and 'shedding the blood of others'.

One of the friends I have made volunteering has been working with a women's group helping them with hospitality skills like languages, cooking, textiles etc.

One evening we agreed to let them practice on us. So 40 of us went to the Mkombosi women, youth and community group for an evenings entertainment!

We had the most amazing fod, they played live music, we danced and they put on a show!
It was brilliant!

I have also been attending church out here every Sunday. The Voice of Victory Pentecostal church! I haven't changed my religious views but I can say I have never been so happy in a church ever!
Its full of dancing, singing, shouting, crying, and joy! Its amazing! Their faith is so strong.
Pastor Unity and his wife have fully adopted their new mezunghu congregation members - he is so welcoming. And his weekly collection has never looked so healthy!

I have been a frequent visitor to a bar called Glacier. It is open air, in a field with a big wooden bar, a tree house, a live african band, football table..... its also the only place in Moshi where the locals and the mezunghus really mix. Its fantastic! We all dance together and drink the local tipple Konyagi!

The band are hilarious; playing reggae and wearing shell suits!
My dancing partner at glacier is an old local called simba!

I spent an afternoon at an orphanage called The Kilimanjaro Children's Joy Foundation.
It is run by mama Lucie and has 72 children. Most of them have disabilities and so have been abandoned and the rest have HIV.

One little boy Sonni was extremely sick.
Despite it being an incredibly sad situation the children are very happy and spent the day dancing with me and signing songs!

I was really moved by my day out at Boma. I am satisfied that on that day I made some children happy by spending time with them, cuddling them and doing some crazy mezunghu dancing!

I will remember that day forever.
Mama Lucie brought us back in to town on the back of her pick up truck. She is the most amazing woman I have ever met.

And so now I am preparing to leave town on Saturday!

I am trying to fit in all the last minute things that I said I would do but never did because my time here has gone by so quickly and I guess I have fallen in to the African pole, pole (slowly, slowly) way of life!
My to do list includes things like buy masai blanket, eat corn on the cob off of the street......
This morning I was able to tick off 'watch sunrise with Mount Kilimanjaro'!!! It was hard getting up but once I had a cup of tea in my hand and was perched on the balcony of our house with a prize view of kili it was fabulous!

On Saturday I leave Moshi on the 7.15am bus to Dar Es Salaam, and that afternoon will be catching a ferry to Zanzibar where a Banda (thatched hut) on Kendwa beach awaits me!
I am going with 4 friends and will be meeting another group of friends in stone town the following week.

I am sad to be leaving Moshi but confident that I will be back here again hopefully within the year. There is so much voluntary work going out here - I urge anyone looking for an adventure to catch the next flight to Kilimanjaro! Whether your interest be children, textiles, conservation, medicine, water sanitation... the list goes on there really is a lot of help needed and it is massively appreciated.

I hope everyone is well. Please send news from home!
Will be in touch to update you about the next stage of my adventure!

What I chose not to announce in this email was that one of the big factors in me wanting to be back in Moshi within the year was a guy called Hayden.
Hayden was working in Moshi as a skydive photographer.

We had been friends from the day I arrived and over the weeks we got closer and closer. 
A few weeks in and it was rare to see one of us without the other.
And it was Hayden and friends that I was off to Zanzibar with, but thats another story altogether.....


No comments:

Post a Comment