Saturday, May 22, 2010

airport field trip and others

The rest of the week was great…overwhelmingly long days at work, but, nonetheless it was a good week. First of all, I feel 100% better and am eating a lot again and have my energy back. I really have done nothing but work all week though. I’ve been going into Amani at 830 am and leaving at 8 or 830 pm. In the beginning of the week I took three new boys (ages 6 or 7, 9 and 10) to the clinic. One of the boys, who is either six or seven, came from home and three of his older brothers (two of which are the best behaved children at Amani) are already at Amani. This boy is so tiny, he looks so malnourished and frail- I can see the veins in his head and his arms are like twigs but his little belly is so distended, he weighs 30 lbs. He is such a happy kid, laughing all the time and so excited to be with his big brothers. We are working on fattening him up and he is already able to eat more than I can in one sitting. Anyway, when I took the three boys to the clinic one of them was very afraid of needles and needed to get his finger pricked. He was sitting on my lap and I was holding his arm still and as the tech was about to prick him he pulled his hand away…she immediately slapped him across the face. I was shocked! I couldn’t believe that she had actually slapped this child. He started balling and I just hugged him and rubbed his back while she pricked him. Poor kid was so upset and I was stunned and tried to imagine that happening in the States…I would’ve been smacked so many times as a child if I had been hit for pulling away from needles.
Thursday, all of the children that stay at Amani for school went on a fieldtrip to the airport. They were so excited to see the big planes and to be able to stand on the air field while planes were taking off. I arrived at the end of the trip to bring the kids lunch of chipsikuku (French fries and chicken), which I helped make…and cut my thumb with a knife in the process. When we got there the kids were so excited to show us the planes and the staff was excited too. Everyone, staff included, wanted their pictures taken in front of the airplanes. It is amazing how much I take for granted. The kids ended up having a great time and they all looked adorable (and like prisoners) in their orange t-shirts.
Today, Friday, Rovina had to leave work after I came in and one of the boys was pretty sick. He had a bad headache, threw up and seemed sort of confused. He ended up being okay but it took him a while to feel better. One of the social workers came in to tell me that 8 boys had just arrived off the street. Three of which had run away from Amani a few months before (I had seen them on the streets in Arusha after they ran away). I was so excited to have them back. After they showered, got clean clothes and shaved their heads I ran over and hugged each of them. I then did physicals on each of these eight children. Lucikly, they all seem pretty healthy with the exception of minor things like wounds and head fungus. A few of the new ones that had not been to Amani before were so filthy that they had to use a scrub brush to clean off. I cleaned under their fingernails with scissors and tweezers to get all of the dirt out. It is amazing what a difference a soapy shower and clean clothes can make.

Monday, May 17, 2010

a bad week for stomachs

The other day I was sitting at lunch at Amani and I realized the social worker that was sitting next to me had a huge piece of stomach on his plate. I always knew that they ate the stomach and intestines because I always see it mixed in with the other pieces of meat but I never really watched closely enough to see my co-workers eat this part of the cow. Once he noticed I was watching so closely he picked up a huge chunk of the stomach and shoved it into his mouth and then told me it was one of his favorite parts, especially when it is tender. Then the other men that were sitting at the table with me thought it was funny that I found it so disgusting so they all started to pick the stomachs off their plates and chew them up in front me. Whenever I tell them that I am a vegetarian they look at me sympathetically and say “pole sana” which means, “I am so sorry” in Kiswahili.
Recently, at night, we have been having massive invasions of termites. It is the craziest thing…millions (or something like that) of them will swarm the outside sitting area and the doors and windows of the hostel. They fly into things and just fly around like crazy. After about a half hour or so of crazy flying they shed their wings and start to crawl around and continue to run into things. There was one night when it was particularly bad and we had to shut all of the doors to the hostel and our floor in the kitchen was still literally covered with shed wings after the hour long invasion. That is what the weird looking pictures are.
Some of the locals catch the termites and fry them before eating them as a snack (a few of the girls staying at the hostel tried this crispy treat but I think it was just to get the termites back for being so annoying). The lizards also eat them and the dogs love having the termites around for food.
On Thursday I went to Arusha with two people from work to scope out some places for the annual Amani picnic (basically a big field trip for all of the kids and the staff). I think we are going to end up doing Arusha National Park which I know the kids will really love. We also stopped at the smaller of the two snake parks in Arusha which was pretty cool. It was really tiny but I got to see tons of snakes and one was a spitting snake (I forget its real name) but it spat at me (I was protected by a glass wall) as a form of self-defense. We also got to see crocodiles or alligators (I’m still not sure which) and tons of chameleons. There was one chameleon that was sitting on a tiny branch and looked so adorable. At first I thought he was just sleeping but when Leonard tapped on his screen cage and he didn’t move I realized he was dead. I told the lady running the snake park and she took the poor little guy out and threw him somewhere in the grass. I think the next part of the trip is where I made a mistake…
The Tanzanian’s from Amani that I was with took Guava off the tree to eat – of course I tried a bite too. The next day I started to feel pretty sick. My stomach was cramping up and my body was aching. After feeling crappy for a day and then extremely sick that night (I forgot to mention diarrhea) I went to the clinic that most of the Wazungu’s (Europeans) go to when they get sick. Apparently I have either a bacterial infection or an amoeba (it probably wasn’t from the guava but I don’t know what else to blame it on). The doctor gave me antibiotics and some other stuff to take and I’m feeling a lot better…but still pretty weak. Being sick away from home is awful…but I am on my way to being 100% soon!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

frustrations and sarah's pretty party

One of my co-workers, Christina, who is the special education teacher and is from America mainly works with Daudi who has severe autism and epilepsy and is non-verbal. She has been doing amazing things with him for the past two years. He is learning to communicate via signing because he is unable to speak and he is able to do things for himself and take control of his behavior (most of the time). Anyway, I was in her little classroom/office the other day and she has been trying to teach Daudi how to write his own name for a while and while I was in there I heard Christina shriek and I turned around to see that Daudi had written his name all on his own. Some of the letters were stacked on top of each other but he had all the letters there on the paper. It was awesome. He is the boy in the blue shirt in the pictures.
The rest of this week was pretty good but I got really angry at the children on Thursday. None of them would leave the health office and there was no other staff around to help me kick them out so I finally got them out by carrying the littlest ones and threatening the older ones. I had to lock them out of the room after I finally managed to get them out. I hate that Cassie is gone because without her the kids rarely get a chance to do anything creative or expressive. She was the art teacher and would also give them play time almost every day. We are unable to just leaves toys out for the children because they steal them and fight over them and may even try to sell them therefore all of the toys are locked up in the art room. Unfortunately, since Cassie left, the kids have only had ‘michezo’ which means play, a couple of times. This is really distressing to me because I truly feel that kids, especially children that have had so much trauma in their lives, need a way to express themselves and should have time to play everyday. I want to give them toys more often but I don’t have a lot of extra time and when I do it is difficult because I have to write down what everyone takes and make sure I get it back and the kids don’t listen to me very well especially if I do it on my own. I also get frustrated because more than anything these children need love and attention and I so badly want to provide them all with individual attention and make them feel like normal kids,
Anyway, on Friday, two of boys ran away. They were both in standard seven and doing really well in school…both very intelligent boys. It breaks my heart when these kids leave Amani and go back to the streets, especially when I don’t understand the reason behind it.
I was sitting outside under a tree with some of the boys today when one of them started telling me about his mother. He showed me a scar on his leg and explained that when he was younger his mother would drink a lot and she cut his leg with a knife…he said his mothers father would beat him with sticks and showed me a scar on his head, and he said that he ran away when his sister started to gang up on him as well. When I hear the stories of these children I understand why their behavior is so random and often moody. I can’t understand how parents could harm their children to that extreme…or at all.
So…about happier things…the owner of Hostel Hoff had a party at her house on Friday night for her 29th birthday. The theme was ‘Pretty Party – Formal Dress’ so we went to the second hand market, Memorial, and bought the most ugly prettiest dresses we could find (not that they were hard to find because there were tons of them). It was hideous…we looked disgustingly beautiful. We also got a painting of her made with a painting of the hostel. We all signed the back of the canvas. That should explain some of the above pictures.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

just this week

I started the week with Monday meetings at Amani. Nothing too exciting happened at work. One of the boys started running a fever and another came home from school crying with a severe headache. On Tuesday both boys were still feeling slightly ill and another boy, one of the older ones, came home from school because he had thrown up. We took those three and one other little boy to the clinic. Again, this clinic trip took over four hours and was during lunchtime….not a good combination. Anyway, one of the little boys had to give a stool sample and didn’t quite understand how to do it so after he pooped I had to scoop it up into a little box so that it could get tested since he couldn’t figure out how to do it. While we were waiting for the test results a group of people carried an old woman in but I didn’t get to see what happened. After that a woman was trying to help an old woman walk up the steps of the clinic, they were clearly struggling so I went over and offered to help and the lady and I carried this old woman up the steps. She was adorable. The boys ended up having UTI, malaria, head fungus, chest infection type thing, and pneumonia. Anyway, after the clinic I went back to Amani and ate rice and beans and was completely happy (because I had food in my stomach).

baby orphanage, clinic, arusha and kentucky derby win!

It has been a while since my last blog entry, maybe because I was being lazy or maybe because I was just too busy to write. So…last weekend I went to a baby orphanage in Marangu (one of the places where the kili climbs start). The orphanage, Neema, houses babies from birth to the age of three. A church runs it and there are nuns that live there and work there 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The babies were adorable and Laura and I stayed until the children had to nap. Before naptime, however, the children had just been fed and two of them started vomiting all over the carpet. The poor sisters had to clean up the vomit while holding the babies and dealing with tons of other kids running around and crying. I defiantly want to go back up there and hold the children again before I leave.
I don’t remember if I mentioned this before or not but there were tons of small red bites appearing on both of my legs. Most of them were in lines or clusters of three and I couldn’t figure out where I was that I was always getting bitten so I found out bedbugs and some fleas but in lines of three. Of course – I got a little obsessive and put my mattress outside and sprayed the wood of my bed and switched into a different bed. After a few nights I took a mattress off of another bed and put it into my bedframe and haven’t seen any fleas or bedbugs but there are tons of tiny ants all over my mosquito net…that could explain the bites but I really am not sure.
I made two other posters for health education, one was about HIV/AIDS and the other was about STI’s in general. Rovina and I used the HIV/AIDS one for health education classes last week. The kids asked excellent questions and truly seemed interested in what we were saying.
Two new boys came in off the streets of Moshi one of which both parents have died and the other has a father but has lost his mother. They are both adorable and seem really sweet. On Thursday, the two new boys and two other children went to the clinic. It took FOREVER because it was super busy. Unfortunately, the four-hours spent at the clinic were right during the lunch hour. By the time the kids had their results back I was so hungry that I was struggling acting crazy. Anyway, we ended up heading back to Amani with the diagnoses of UTIs, typhoid and malaria. Before making it to Amani our taxi ran out of fuel at the bottom of a hill. Aside from my hunger, the rest of the situation was pretty funny…I was stuffed in a taxi with four kids and one random woman sitting on the side of the road waiting for our drivers friend to bring him fuel. Once we got fuel in the car and started up again, we passed a young boy (looked about 10 or 11 years old) walking with handcuffs and police officer. It was sad.
Also another one of the kids had an infected wound on his foot that he didn’t tell anyone about and he came into the office with a fever and really swollen lymph nodes. To prepare for the weekend I had to make over 30 mini envelopes of medicines to give to the weekend workers. I stayed at work late and while I was sitting in the office helping the boy with the infected foot a group of boys came storming in and I started screaming at them to leave then I looked down and realized they were all crying a body. Quickly I realized it was one of the little boys and he was crying hysterically because he had fallen and had a pretty big wound on his foot and on his shin. As I was bringing malaria medications to one of the boys I saw a kid go down on the soccer field…he had been kicked in the shin (we don’t use shin guards) and was in a lot of pain but luckily after a little while was doing fine. Also some other stuff happened earlier in the day but I don’t feel right posting it on here.
This weekend I went to Arusha for Anna’s birthday. It was a lot of fun and it was great to see her house. When I got there we went to a Kentucky Derby party because Anna’s boyfriend, Josh, works with a girl who is from Kentucky. Everyone had to wear a hat and we all paid 5000 shillings (about 4 something dollars) and picked the name of a horse out of a hat. The first place winner won 100,000 shillings the second won 30,000 and the third won 10,000. Guess whose horse came in second place?! Mine! I won 30,000 shillings!
After the Kentucky Derby party we went to a real rugby match. It was awesome because I have never watched rugby…let alone seen it live. We watched Kenya vs Tanzanian Twigas (Kenya won). Then both teams started partying like crazy (just like in the movie invictus…even some of the songs were the same). Some of the players stood on the bar and had to chug cups of beer in under five counts. They made one of the referees drink and he started vomiting while standing on the bar…gross. By the end of the rugby game I was exhausted and ready to go to sleep but it was Anna’s birthday and there was no way we could end it there. On our way to the next place we passed a bunch of sleeping kids on the sidewalk. Most of the kids recognize Anna’s car and some ran over. I saw two of the boys who had recently left Amani. One seemed fine and was totally with it and the other one was extremely high (I don’t know on what though) and he could barely even speak to me. Although it was nice to see them, it was upsetting to see them so drugged up and sleeping on the streets in the cold (it gets really cold in Arusha at night). We then went to a bar called Greek Club and then left to get pizza. The pizza place was closed but the chef opened the kitchen and made us each an individual pizza (delicious) but it took about an hour to cook so I kept falling asleep at the table while waiting.
It was great to see Anna and Josh and I was happy that I made it there for her birthday. On the way back when we got on the daladala to head back to Moshi there were tons of men standing around the buses trying to sell stuff, which is the norm, but then one of them stuck their hand in my window and grabbed my boob. I was yelled at him and slammed my window shut. I finally made it back to Moshi, after feeling really carsick on the daladala ride home.