Thursday, January 28, 2010

orientation etc

The past two mornings after getting off the daladala I have walked passed a slow-moving herd of cows. I don’t know why but for some reason I found it pretty funny. The past few days I have been doing orientation half of the work day and then working the other half. For orientation I have to sit and talk with a staff member at Amani and they explain what their role and job is and for some of them I watch them do their job or help them do their job. So yesterday I oriented with Rogasian who does essential support and with Joyce who is a teacher for the ‘starter level’. The starters are the children who are fresh off the street who are not caught up in education with the other children. The range of education is extremely broad at the level, some of the children cannot read or write while others are literate. I sat in on her class and it was funny to see the children behaving and not running around playing. Some seemed very eager to learn while others seemed distracted and uninterested. She was teaching English and the kids were learning introductions. They went around the room saying “My name is ______. I come from _____. My father’s name is _______. I am ______ years old.” Some of them got it instantly and others struggled the whole way through. I then taught them to play simon says, which they loved and then they wanted to learn songs and I couldn’t think of any so I taught them one about a frog and then ten little monkeys jumping on a bed. If anyone is an early childhood education major or can remember any songs or games from growing up please please please let me know of them so I can write them down for Joyce to teach the children!!
Yesterday, Johnny, one of the younger children was extremely sick. He has malaria and pneumonia and has been sick for a few days but finally went to get tested. Rovina, Amani’s nurse, had to give him his medication for pneumonia intravenously but without an iv so she injected it into his vein using a syringe which anna told me is extremely painful. He was really dehydrated so when it was time for his second dose we had to stick him five or six times before we were able to get a vein. He was really upset and I felt bad for him. My heart breaks for these children when they get sick because when I was younger, and even still, when I am sick all I want is my parents to sit with me and rub my back and these children have no parents, or at least no parents with them. Anna is really motherly with them though which is good but the idea of them laying alone at night when they are feeling sick is so sad to me.
Today, for orientation I worked with the kitchen staff. Cooking for 100 people is an extremely difficult task. They had me chopping up vegetables, with a knife so dull I don’t think it would even cut play dough. The wooden handle on the knife was broken and sliding back and forth so I have a huge blister on my hand. I was sweating profusely because I was standing next to a huge oven-type thing while I was chopping. The food at lunch today definitely tasted extra salty and I think it was because my sweat kept dripping into the vegetables. Showing a vegetarian with OCD how things are done in their kitchen was a bad idea. I decided I never wanted to eat lunch there again…but when lunch was served and my stomach was growling I quickly got over it.
My Swahili is getting better because everyday at lunch the special education teacher/therapist tutors me in Swahili. She is American but speaks fluent Swahili. As soon as I get used to the heat and time change and regain my energy I will write in detail about Amani.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

soccer game

Yesterday the children at Amani played soccer against the staff. The staff won! It was fun to watch (no girls played but I'm sure we could've if we had wanted to). I don't have much else to write about as of now except that I am exhausted. The above pictures are just of the kids playing at Amani and one is of the view of kilimanjaro from amani. I will write more later about Amani and what I am doign at amani etc and I will add more pictures of Amani and the hostel and of the children at amani.

Shimbwe and Masaai Village

Had a very eventful weekend. A girl that has been staying at Hostel Hoff named Karin, started her own community based organization, Shimbwe Under Dog Foundation. The goal of her foundation is to help bring up the entire community of Shimbwe through education. The foundation sponsors the top twenty students (only those of which cannot afford it on their own) to go on to secondary school. She needed to go up to the village of Shimbwe to drop off some calculators and other supplies so Laura, another girl from the hostel, and I went with her. We rode up on a daladala which is a bus that is packed full of people. There were people hanging out of the window and literally jammed on top of each other. I was one of the few people that actually got a seat so when woman came on carrying their babies I had to hold their babies on my lap while the woman stood (obviously I enjoyed this). Halfway to the village (which is further up the base of mt kilimanjaro) we stopped to put more gas in the van. Everyone had to move off of the bench/seat and they lifted it up and dumped some gas in and then we drove off. Being up in that area was gorgeous. The soil was a rich color that I have never seen. The children were all dressed in their school uniforms and were really friendly. The huts were scattered throughout the woods and I was able to see the town of Moshi, which is where I am living, from up in this village. The leaves on the banana tree were huge and I also got to see coffee beans growing. I defiantly want to go back up there it was gorgeous and so peaceful. This is the website of Karin’s foundation. We went out later that night to a local bar called Glacier. It was fun but I was exhausted so went home early.
Sunday morning Senedy, who is one of the guards at the hostel, took a group of us to his village. Senedy is a Masaai and he visits his home village a few times a month but the rest of the time lives at the hostel and watches the gate. He told us that his father has nine wives and he has 54 siblings. We took a dala then walked down the road for about 15 minutes then walked across a field for another 15 minutes. Eventually we came to his village. The children at that village were excited to see us. They loved playing with our cameras and riding on our backs. I have never seen so much dust on a child before. They were covered!! Each child was adorable although a few of them looked really sickly. There was a lot of head fungus, coughing and clogged up noses…they also had flies swarming all over them.
They live in huts made of mud with a tiny window to let light in. I could barely stand up all the way without reaching the top (and I am only 5’4”). After being able to see their houses we sat around for awhile doing pretty much nothing but basking in the sun and playing with the children. One of the girls staying at the hostel, Laura, has gauged ear lobes and the Masaai woman thought that it was strangest thing to see a white, red-headed girl with ear lobes like theirs. Senedy’s mother gave Laura her earrings which were made for large earlobe holes. We then walked further into an opened area and stood under the shade of a tree. All of the men (probably around my age) were dressed in traditional Masaai clothing and performed a traditional Masaai dance for us. It was amazing!! The men were singing using their voices to make noises I have never heard before and would then take turns jumping higher than I am capable of even if I used a trampoline. The little children were all standing around enjoying the celebration and trying to jump as high as the older boys…it was really cute. The men dragged a few of us into the circle and I attempted to jump with them. I’m sure I looked like an idiot but they were smiling (or probably laughing at me) so I kept trying. After a few hours of immersion in this fascinating village and spending time in the extreme heat and sun all of us were exhausted. We walked back through the field and then up the road just as we had on the way there but this time it seemed longer and hotter. A few of the girls forgot to bring water so we were all sharing what little water we had left. By the time we got to the road I had never wanted water so badly before in my life…I felt bad wanting water so badly though because for the people in the village they have to walk two hours each way to get their water!!! Water has never tasted so good to me before. Being in that village and walking around with the children in the dusty heat and feeling dehydrated I could not help but think of the lost boys of Sudan and how unimaginable their situation was. I could barely handle walking a short distance in those conditions…I cannot imagine how any child could walk for hours and hours without water or food continuously.
When we arrived at the road to wait for the dala one of the Masaai men that was walking back with us pointed out a dog to me and followed it by the word ‘dead’ and as I got closer I realized the poor little pup was not sleeping but was lying on the side of the road…dead. This dog looked better dead than the dogs in the village looked because they were so thin I could see every rib and bone in their bodies.
After getting back to the hostel I was fascinated by how dirty my boogers were, I would’ve saved them to show you all if I could but I thought that would be gross. Everyone from the hostel almost looked Tanzanian because we were so dark from all of the dirt. Senedy said I could spend a night there if I want and I am looking forward to doing so, but am not sure if I can handle it…I’ll decide later.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

first few days

The flights here were easy except for the layover because I was scared to fall asleep for fear of sleeping through the boarding for my flight. I was lucky and for both flights I had an entire row to myself! Upon arriving, I breezed through customs and security and Kathleen, a woman from Boston who arrived two weeks ago and will be staying for a minimum of two years was waiting at the airport for me with Amani’s driver, Leonard. They brought me straight to Hostel Hoff where I got into my bed feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. The first night was really rough because I was so tired and felt homesick. I couldn’t believe that I had came to this place all by myself without Lauren or without Jill, Syd, Cols, Anne or Sheena. I was lying in bed wishing that I hadn’t come solo and was hoping maybe Annie could try to come visit at the end of the week instead of a few months from now. I was nervous about not being able to wake in time for my ride to Amani because I could not figure out how to use my alarm clock…little did I know that nature would take care of that for me. I was up four hours prior to when my alarm would’ve gone off…before the sun even came up…because the roosters were outside crowing (very loudly) even before the crack of dawn. As I was lying in bed trying to ignore the crowing I rolled over to find a lizard staring at me from the floor of my room but that was nothing compared to what Laura, another girl at the hostel found under a mattress. She found a family of mice living underneath her bed!!
The children at Amani are amazing. I will explain more about how the children’s home works later but my computer is running out of battery and I am scared to try to mess with the outlet because I just got shocked really badly from it…my whole arm was shaking when the electricity traveled up it and it really really hurt I started screaming and then it finally stopped but for now I would rather let my battery die then mess with it.
Yesterday Anna and I took five of the boys to the clinic for entry physicals. The doctor didn’t even talk to the kids but asked Anna what was wrong with them. He then wrote down what tests he wanted run and we went to another room with the boys where the tech did ALL of the work. She took the boys blood, and depending on what test they were having done she either used a metal lancet to prick their finger or a syringe to draw their blood, none of which she wore gloves for. Then the boys gave stool samples and urine samples and the tech took it all to a room in the back (I went with her to watch) where she centrifuged the urine and blood and put everything onto slides. She showed me some of the abnormal results under the microscope. She diagnosed what each boy had by observing the specimen under the microscope and then wrote the results down on their papers. The doctor then saw what she wrote and decided what to prescribe them and did not explain anything to the boys even though they were curious as to what was wrong with them. Two or three of the five of them have malaria, one has worms, and one has a UTI, two of them were healthy. We had to hang around the clinic for a while waiting for the Amani car to come back to get us and the boys were trying to teach me Swahili and playing with my hair. We were also playing hand games like miss mary mac but that was the only one I could remember enough to teach them. One of the boys has been writing words for me in English followed by the Swahili word and then quizzing me on it. We also found a really cool lizard and they took my point and shoot camera to take pictures of it. I had no idea that they would figure out how to view old photos but when I remembered that the pictures from new years and from home were still on my camera I went to see what they were doing…of course they are staring at the picture of one of my friends (not mentioning any names but you know who you are) making out with a boy on new years. Super embarrassing that they saw that…but atleast the picture was not of me.
When we got back to Amani one of the boys all of the sudden starting feeling really sick. He was dizzy and felt nauseous and within five minutes looked pretty sick as well. He was lying on the bed, really lethargic and crying when he was completely fine and happy fifteen minutes earlier. I sat with him and rubbed his back. We gave him his malaria medication right away and by the time Anna and I left he seemed to be doing much better, not sure if it was form TLC or from the medicine but it was good to see him feeling better.
Also, yesterday one of the social workers, Happy, had to take one of the girls from Amani’s ten month old baby girl to another orphanage that takes babies. It was sad to see this adorable happy little baby be taken from her mom but her mother isn’t capable of caring for her and Amani is not set up for infants.
Before I left America the Grille’s gave me the animal shaped bracelets that are really popular with kids in the US right now. The children at Amani (and the staff) are amazed by these bracelets…if anybody knows where to buy these and wants to send me 90-100 of them to give out to each child they would absolutely go crazy! I will post my address sometime soon but not right now and if anyone is up for doing this if they will fit in an envelope as opposed to a package that would be much cheaper for me to receive and much easier for me to get.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm Off!

I leave in a few hours for the airport. I am completely packed (into two small suitcases a backpack and a purse)!! I had to repack four times to get everything to fit and ended up eliminating half of my stuff. I am nervous but mostly excited. Two of the girls that are currently at the children's home emailed me. They both seem really really nice and talking to them made me feel much less scared. I also talked to other people from around here that have been to or lived in Tanzania. I went to dinner and then out to bars with my friends to celebrate on Saturday night which was a lot of fun. I am ready and excited!!! I will be in Tanzania (after 28 hours of travel time) on Wednesday night!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

getting ready...

I am leaving in less than two weeks! Yesterday was my last day of work in the ER which is sad. But my amazing co-workers got cake and pizza for me :) I have nothing to write about but am just starting to get everything together and hopefully will be ready to go in time. If you want a postcard from me while I am away give me your address you can email it to me at or just message it to me.