Published: July 5th 2012July 5th 2012
Road work TZ style: Wear day-glo green vest. Place rocks down the center line. If you need to straighten or move the rocks, stand in the oncoming traffic lane and move them! We came across real, serious road construction. The front man carries two flags, one red and one green. There is yellow and black striped tape strung from tree to tree across the road. We were stopped and our driver, Mama and the construction man had a lively discussion. Apparently the news about the road closure was bad because we turned around and found an alternate route. The alternate route was interesting, to say the least. We drove through deeply rutted roads that are no wider than alleys in Denver and in one part we drove through a village market- actually driving over the tarps that people and their merchandise were on. People got up and moved so we could get through.Cars definitely take precedence over pedestrians and any other mode of transportation.
Sydney the rock star did a lesson today on emotions and had the kids create faces out of eyes, noses and mouths that she had cut from magazines. I read three books and sat with the naughty kids trying to prevent total chaos after our teacher left at 9:00am to attend a meeting. The challenge is that 25 of the 35 kids decide to be naughty – sometimes on a rotating basis, sometimes all together! Martin, a wonderful, English speaking African volunteer (here in this room until December) returned to the class. He is funny, gentle, positive and engaging. We had a chance to talk after most of the children went home and he asked me for suggestions about how to help the children learn, how to deal with the bad behavior, how to get parents to come in - all great questions with no easy answers. I explained the concepts of time out and rewarding positive behaviors. I told Momma and Martin about working with the poor kids at Barrett and how difficult it was to reach the parents – and how food was the only reliable way to get them to school. I told them we (teachers in the US) would never expect kids to sit for 3 hours and that we have them move every half hour. Momma said that there used to be a teeter-totter in the area right next to the house but it was eaten by termites.
Clothing colors bear no relationship to sex here (another similarity to Nepal). Boys may have a pink backpack and/or pink shoes. Most of the kids have shaved heads so hair isn't a clue either. Many clothes are from the US - you see GAP and other brands across the sweatshirts and t-shirts. We heard, from a volunteer here that's majoring in economic development in developing countries, about a documentary she saw in class. It concerned donations to Goodwill. Apparently when Goodwill has clothes it can't sell, they package it and send the clothes to Africa (big tax deduction); however the clothes are placed in the hands of a broker who then sells the clothing when it arrives here. So the people that need free clothing the most have to buy things. It is so sad to see some of the people on the street who are in clothes so soiled and torn that I think they've been in them for months or longer. Things that we throw out as broken or useless are repurposed here. Most Tanzanians are happy with little and do not aspire to a life with lots of material things. When things don't go according to their plan they say, "That's life" and move on. They are hopeful that tomorrow will be better and know that the way to make progress is to move pole pole (po-lay po-lay - slowly).
Syd is sore today from the construction work yesterday. She is feeling a bit better and Primo our fabulous chef fixed her a thermos a of ginger/lemon tea to help her head congestion. We had our exit feedback session today. Syd is sad to think about leaving (although happy about seeing her family), Dave is super ready to leave. At the feedback session Dave asked if it is possible to get a wider variety of food. In response, Primo made 2 huge pizzas - one veggie and one with bacon. Poor Dave missed the dinner (more about that below).
We thought we would return to the Kwazadilla (?) orphanage this afternoon that’s the one where Syd’s friend Flora lives but we couldn’t reach Rosemund to confirm, so we’ll try tomorrow afternoon.
We were all invited to a celebration tonight at MKombozi. Syd and I politely declined but Dave attended because in TZ if you are invited, you must go. We will be at MKobozi tomorrow for a lunch to honor Dave. Syd needs sleep and I need a little quiet. 17 ROTC cadets left this morning and thankfully it is much more calm and peaceful here.
Tomorrow is our last day at Step Up – we are bringing lollipops for the kids. Nothing like a little sugar to get the kids even more hyper. They will not get those suckers until they leave!
Love to you all,
Sharon, Sydney and Dave