Tuesday, January 26, 2010

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. Shimbweunderdog.dinstudio.no 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.

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