Published: July 8th 2012July 8th 2012
An hour of singing and adorable faces filled our last day at placement. Imagine 90 kids in one classroom – half of them sitting on the floor, singing songs from ‘Jambo Bwana’ to “We are the kids, the kids from Step Up. Everywhere we go-o, people want to know, who we are, so we tell them we are the kids, the kids from Step Up…”, and “Goodbye teachaa.” Sydney has video of the kids singing and when she’s home and is able to upload the videos they will be on her Facebook page. If you’re not friends with Sydney Renee Sherman you might want to check out her page because she has some photos posted from every stage of our trip. Mama Hasseim gave each of us a pair of locally made earrings – she actually said they were made in Moshi by a Rastafarian).We brought lollipops for all the kids and they all behaved well because the threat (from the teacher) was behave, drink your porridge or no sweets. We didn’t have time to print off pictures here but we have decided to make a photo album for Step Up and send it to them. We got Mama’s and the
teacher’s emails so we can keep in touch.
After leaving placement, our van dropped us at Dave’s vocational school where they had a luncheon to honor him. The school is in a part of town that Syd and I had never visited. I had noticed train tracks (long abandoned – a remnant of the colonial era) on a map but Friday we drove over them. The school is in 2 buildings blocks apart. A sewing/tailoring classroom, a cooking classroom and a computer class room are in one building. They have enough land for another building and are trying to raise funds for a library and offices. Students from the culinary school fixed lunch – a typical African feast - rice, banana stew, meat stew, cucumber & tomato salad, greens and bread. We all received Mkombozi T-shirts and all of the people that Dave worked with said nice things about him and his help and Dave received a certificate.
Then, Sydney returned to the orphanage to visit her friend Flora and the other kids. She went with another volunteer, Lizzie who has a deep commitment to the kids and to the orphanage. Syd took a bunch of our clothes
and Rosmund handed the clothes out immediately. Syd said everyone was so excited. One girl refused an offered saying she would let her sister have it because she already had 2 shirts. Syd gave one of her favorite t-shirts away, a Jason Mraz t-shirt, and guess who got it; Flora. While there, Sydney gave her camera to the kids to take pictures. They took lots of pictures! The kids, especially Flora want the pictures of them and Sydney. So Sydney has decided to make a photo album for Rosmund and the kids as well. Lizzie has spent the night at the orphanage and said they generally have 1 meal/day and the meal is usually rice or ugali - a starchy, potato like food. There are no ‘typical feasts’ for the orphans.
Last night Syd and I packed up. We had to vacate our room first thing Saturday morning because the new volunteers are coming and our room is no longer available. We are moving, for one night into a new room in the building with kitchen and staff quarters.
Saturday morning we headed out for the coffee tour and waterfall hike at 8:30. The tour usually
leaves at 10 but we asked for an earlier time because one Jenna from our group needs to head to the airport for her flight home at 5:00pm. We ran into a misty rain on our way up (this is why they usually leave later – the rain will have cleared and the roads dried up a bit), to about 9,000’and the African massage road (very bumpy, bad road) we were on became impassable. So our driver parked the car and we got out and walked uphill which was no picnic. Fifteen minutes and many slipping and sliding moments.
Later we arrived at the home of our guide, Oscar, who is also the coffee farmer. We saw and took part in most of the process. The coffee beans had been picked, separated, soaked and dried before we arrived. We helped pound the shells off the beans and then they were roasted. After 20 minutes we were served hot, dark roasted coffee. Syd and I asked for a small amount because we are not coffee drinkers and we knew that we had to try/finish it. High mountain TZ coffee tradition dictates that coffee must be consumed with sugar. Each
of our hosts scooped 3 small spoonfuls of sugar into their cup, so I put one in my cup and drank it all. Syd also drank her ½ cup after adding 4 spoonfuls of sugar. We met some of Oscars family – his Mama baked bananas for us which weirdly tasted like french fries and his brother picked avocados which Oscar opened with his hands (knives ruin the taste he said). We met Oscars 73 year old father who returned to the house after working in his banana field chopping branches with a machete!
When the coffee tour was over we started hiking down a very narrow mud path leading to the waterfall. The walk should take an hour and Oscar’s father said we shouldn’t worry because although the path was slippery and narrow it is flat. Well… there is flat and then there is this path. We were all going pretty slow, not wanting to wipe out on our butts or fall down the hill. After about 45 minutes Brittany, a girl in our group, called it quits. This sounded okay to us. Brittany only sees about ten percent of what we see, she described it to me as a donut. She can see inside the hole of the donut and outside the rim of the donut but can’t see the actual donut. I asked her if that meant it was just blurry where the donut is and she said no, it’s just not there. What’s amazing is she has done gymnastics all her life and she was made fun of all her life, but didn’t discover the eye problem till she was fifteen. While we were slipping and sliding in our sturdy hiking/gym shoes, locals are passing us with bundles on their heads in their flip-flops. Grandpa continued to the waterfall with Pascal, our other guide. While they trekked, we had lunch in a local bar, a wood shack with benches around the perimeter, (don’t worry, it wasn’t occupied, and there was no alcohol), and Oscar gave us a really interesting history lesson on the Chagga tribe. We saw beautiful photos of the waterfall and we’ll see if Dave can attach one to this blog. It’s much taller and wider than the other waterfalls we have seen. In Dave’s words, “It’s a waterfall”. The walk back was so fast! It was much better because the sun had dried up much of the slippery mud. On our way back to home base we stopped to taste the local brew -banana beer. Banana beer is reputed to contribute to long life and happiness. It is made from bananas (duh!) and millet and is good only the day it ‘ripens’. It is served in bamboo mugs that are passed around and shared. Syd and I abstained but those who tried it said “Interesting!” They also reported that it tasted nothing like bananas and must be an acquired taste.
My last night was great. Katie and Bri, our neighbors for the last three weeks went to the orphanage today. They came back singing “Ingia”, a call and response song they sing for visitors at the orphanage. I had wanted to learn the lyrics to the song, so the three of us found Baba and he gave us a little singing lesson. It was so much fun! We got it down, grandpa recorded our little performance, and I had a wonderful and interesting conversation with Baba. I’m really going to miss bonding with those girls, talking to Baba every day, saying “Shikamoo”, eating Primo’s delicious food, and being surrounded by the Tanzanian culture.
Never the less, I am very excited to come home. I do miss everyone tons. I’m not going to lie, it’ll be nice to sleep in my own bed without having to tuck in a mosquito net and have my puppy to snuggle with.
We can’t wait to see everyone!
Sydney, Sharon and Dave