Yesterday we taught for the first time. I am paired up with Callan, a recent graduate of UCSC, and Frank as our translator, one of the smartest young men I know. (He'lll probably be the president of Tanzania in the future.) We teach M,W,F to Standard 5, which is similar to 5th grade. However, age isn't the determining factor of attending school. Children attend school when they have the money to pay for their uniforms. The teachers here get paid poorly, and therefore many times don't show up to classes. We have combined both Standard 5 classes for our lesson, so we have 97 students, ages 10 to 17 in our class. We introduced ourselves, me as my new name 'Malaika,' and all the kids thought that was hilarious. We introduced HIV/AIDS and allowed them to write down their questions. Seeing their questions after class made me realize what a huge impact this cirriculum can have in these childrens' lives. Some children with a little more background were asking good qestions, such as "What are the symptoms of HIV?" and "How is transmitted?" However, some questions asked if HIV can be contracted from such things as hugging, sitting next to someone,
kissing, or eating with someone who is HIV-positive. (All answers to these questions are of course, no.) On the way out the door, every child wanted to shake our hand. I decided to shake things up a bit with the "pound it" fist bump, as I learned from other children earlier, "nipeguara." The students were much enthused. However, some of the students, especially the girls, were painfully shy. Every time we would smile at them, they would giggle or bury their heads in embarrassment. I hope this program can bring some empowerment to them. I've already ran into a few of them on the street and they recognized me. On my walks through the village I can hear them calling my name from behind the bush barriers of their yard- "Malaaaaika." Of course they know it's me. I'm the only blonde one.
**Frank and I still keep in touch and recently skyped for the first time. He is excited that the politics in Tanzania are slowly becoming more transparent and less corrupt.
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