Friday, Nov 7
Around 9am we met up with everyone else from the team in the Dubai airport. We had spent a long cold night on the floor but were ready to head off for Tanzania. The flight was great. Each seat had its own movie screan that you could choose from a bunch of different movies, tv shows and games. You could even call people in other seats and play games against other passengers. Needless to say that kept we occupied for most of the flight.
When we arrived at the Dar Es Salaam Airport we were met by Maria (head of African Reflections and the person that made the whole Tanzania trip possible) and some of her people. After going through customs and collecting our luggage we were met outside by the paparatsi. There were news cameras and people from different news papers, people cheering for us. I've never had such a warm welcome anywhere! It was pretty crazy.
The van ride to our hotel took a long time not only because of traffic but because the road had gotten washed out by heavy rains a few days earlier (I guess it really does rain down in Africa!). This ride broke the ice for anyone that was even a little shy! People got personal real fast when there is no bathroom except a ziplock baggie and sarongs surrounding you. I wont mention any names... but there are pictures to document the event!
We finally arrived at the hotel and everyone crashed pretty hard that night. Kathleen and I actually had our own rooms for the first time in a couple months - we actually got a little lonely that night, but got over that feeling real fast!
Saturday, Nov. 8
Today was a shopping day, which turned into a ride in the car for 6 hours and shop for 1 1/2. Luckily we had a couple interpretors with us to help bargain with the shop owners. Everyone got some cool things at the shops but a lot of the shopping was actually done through the van windows as we waited for everyone to get back on the van to go home. It was kinda funny to walk up to the van and see it swarmed by people trying to sell things! I ended up buying an icecream bar at one point along the way from the icecream man (a refrigerated box on the back of a bike).
That night we were late getting back to the hotel where we were to have cocktails (minus the alcohol since most people are muslim) with a lot of important government people. That night we were on the news and in the paper again. We met the governor and lots of other people important to Tanzania.
Sunday, Nov. 9
This was our first day visiting the village that we would be working in. There was a welcome ceremony where all the female team members were wrapped in African fabrics. There was singing, dancing, drumming and lots of speeches (once again the press was there). I couldnt get over how beautiful all the children were, I must have taken 100 pictures and I had to remind myself multiple times that a little African child probably would not easily fit into my bag to bring home - as cute as they were! We were told later that about 500 people were expected to show up but around 1,000 came instead. Because so many people showed up we ended up not having enough biscits to pass out to the children. This bothered everyone a lot, but Kathleen was really upset (I think it was the saddest memory she has from the trip). After a couple hours and meeting lots of different people it started to rain heavy so we got onto the bus and went back to the hotel. Since the shipping container had still not been released we didnt have much to do at night the first week or so of the trip. Luckily everyone had brought extra suitcases with supplies to last until the container showed up.
Monday, Nov. 10
This was the first day that we went to the school where we would be working at. As our van drove in all the kids came running and waving. It was such a great way to start the day. One of the team members had gotten one of those giant parachutes donated and we brought that out for the kids. Both the teachers and kids had never seen anything like it before and they LOVED it. The laughter and happy screams were so loud, they all had such a good time. I got some really great pics of this!
After being up at the school for most of the day we went down to the village to see how the medical clinic and the building were going. Unfortunately it had been a little hard to motivate the men to work and only a few showed up the first day to help with the building. This problem was soon solved. Godfrey (one of our team members that they knew from Zimbabwe) was able to establish great rapore with a couple of the guys which helped to get more people involved. There was one guy at the village (Moody) who we originally thought was 18ish but was really 31 - he is handicap and was always so excited to see everyone. He kinda adopted me over the week as his buddy and was always there to greet us when we showed up.
Overall the first day went well, the biggest obstacle being the language barrier and lack of good interpretors.
Tuesday, Nov. 11
I worked at the school again today. Me and 2 other team members (Sue and Heidi) worked in a couple different classrooms doing activities with the kids. One activity was origami peace cranes (which Heidi taught me the night before). We did this activity with the older kids and they were so amazed that just by folding paper you could make something out of it. They needed help and we went around the room to check every step, which went really well until I screwed up one of the last steps and Heidi had to go back and fix all the kids that I had been working with... opps! After the class activities we played games and sang songs outside with ALL 300+ kids. Nothing like a bunch of frisbees and balls to cause mass chaos!
Apparently in Tanzania it’s “Mango for the teacher” instead of apple. That day I was the mango queen! I had bags and bags to go home with. Before we were getting ready to board the bus to go down to the village it started pouring. Some of the workers had been working on pouring the cement slab that day and once it started raining all of it started running off the sides. Heidi and I and a couple of the workers started lining the borders with buckets of sand to keep the cement from completely washing away. By this point we were soaked! Once we got down to the village we realized that it had only rained up at the school, everyone in the village was dry and looking at us like we were crazy.
Earlier that day 2 little kids had been taken to the hospital with malaria. They had it really bad and we were told they probly would not have survived had they not gone to the hospital. The problem is, even though its only 50cents american to be seen at the hospital, the people don’t have that kind of money. Even though no one at the clinic is an actual doctor, they see everyone that works there as one since this is the only help they can get. People walked from miles away to get to the clinic, up to 8 hours 1 way for some.
Wednesday, Nov. 12
Most of the kids werent at school today since only 1 grade had testing. Instead Kathleen, me and Mike worked on restoring the map of East Africa that the school had outside. It was basically a dirt slab, with the borders layed out in spots with old stones… really bad condition. As we started working a few kids came up and joined in. They actually did such a good job I went back to some of the borders I had done to make them look as good as theirs! Once we rebordered it with new stones the workers poured cement to make it more solid and stand out more. It was looking really good by the end of the morning.
Since we didn’t have much else to do that day with the container still not being there and the kids not at school we went down to the village to help out as needed in the clinic and anything else. I tried the whole clinic thing for a little bit and it is just not for me. I give everyone a lot of credit that worked there day in and day out. It was hard work and I don’t know anything more than bandaids and neosporine when it comes to first aid! It was a little overwhelming to say the least. After trying to help as best I could I ended up walking into the village and bought some boxes of tea and a soda. Moody squealed when we saw us in the village and was basically at my side the rest of the day. People in the village were always trying to shoo him away but I didn’t my best to tell them that he was fine and he could stay. He was perfectly happy just sitting down watching what was going on – no harm in that!
Thursday, Nov. 13
I did my best to help at the clinic with the easy things that didn’t need someone with great medical experience (bandaids and anti-fungal cream). Things were going alright until a lady came up and said she had a cut… this cut turned out to most likely be a diabetic sore that was down to the bone and took up a good chunk of her lower leg. I quickly stepped aside and found her someone that could help. **Side note - After treating her all week with meds and cleaning and dressing the wound, it was doing a little better, but she has an appointment at the hospital next week and most likely will lose her leg – better than dieing I guess!
One great thing that happened this day was when some of the team members went on a tour of the local hospital. While they were there a lady was giving birth and the midwife of our group asked to observe. The baby was born not breathing and after no one made any effort to do anything, Heidi stepped on and eventually got the baby breathing. You can only guess what would have happened if she had not been there. The mother asked to name the baby after Heidi’s brother. They werent expecting “Bart” when they asked the name… so they called the baby Barto (close enough).
That night we went into Dar to go to Maria’s house for a cocktail party (minus the cocktails). Again all the vips of Tanzania were there along with some Masai warriors who bounce like tigger and women that make jewelry out of crushed soda bottles. (Bottles to Beads). It was a fun night and great food!
Friday, Nov. 14
Today was Olympic day at the school. Everyone worked in pairs or 3’s. Joe and I were in charged of the “jump the river” long jump activity. It was amazing how far some of this kids jumped. The Kindergarten were the funniest though, they had no clue what to do and just kept jumping around. After trying a couple times to show them what to do Joe and I just laughed and let them hop around all crazy. I just picked a kid that looked like he was jumping alright as the winner. At the end every kid got a certificate for participating and the winners of each event in each grade got ribbons. They were all so excited and carried their certificates proudly when they left that day.
That afternoon a few of us went up to paint the East Africa map. It turned out so good and Godgrey added some nice artistic touches to it. The head master even got involved in the process, which had been unheard of up til that point! Unfortunately we used oil based paint which is pretty hard to get off of your skin. By the end we all reaked of Kerosine and probably could have caused a small explosion if someone lit a match. We stopped in the village at one point to buy supplies and shop a bit. I bought yet another pair of sunglasses since all of mine end up broken sooner or later (I’m on pair #4 for the trip – that’s why I buy the cheap ones). Anyways, while I was at the store I dropped the mirror and broke it. I felt really bad and paid the guy extra for the glasses – but I still don’t think he was very pleased with me. Bad karma and bad luck! Ugh! **Sidenote- later on in the week I found a mirror with some of the supplies that had been brought in the suitcases and gave it to the guy. I don’t think he understood why I was giving him a mirror but I felt better and hopefully it might cut my 7yrs of bad luck down to 3 or so.
That night the hotel had set up dinner out on the lawn, which was really nice. Still the same food as every other day, but a new atmosphere! After dinner the girls that work at the hotel wanted to take pictures with Kathleen, Shannon and I. The rest of the team felt left out cuz they were old… haha (just kidding guys!!). After dinner we all were trying to decide whether or not we would go to Zanzibar for the weekend or just hang around the hotel. Everyone opted out of the trip since it was going to be a lot of money just for 1 day. Plus that meant we got to sleep in on Saturday since the container STILL had not been released.