More Stuff from Moshi (email)

Moshi Travel Blog

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Hello everyone,

I was going to try to avoid an internet cafe for at least a few days... but
we just stopped in one to finally burn all ::gulp:: 5 GB of pictures we've
taken already onto DVDs for my dad to bring home with him, and it is taking
waaaay longer than expected (we've already been waiting about 45 minutes).
So, I thought I'd tell you about what a wonderful day I had :)

God must be smiling on my travels... after meeting with Mr. Heriel,
my in-country coordinator, yesterday my good luck only continued. On our
tour of Moshi, he pointed out a little restaurant called "The Coffee Shop"
where a lot of volunteers like to eat because almost 100% of the proceeds go
back into community projects. So my dad and I decided to eat there... and
wouldn't you know it, just after we sat down, Christy, the girl who goes to
school in Rochester walked in. I recognized her and went to say hi, and she
then introduced me to about 10 other i-to-i volunteers who were also eating
at The Coffee Shop... 2 of which are currently working at Faraja, the orphan
school where I will begin working on Monday! Their names are Jill and Lauren
 - Lauren is going home Saturday, and I will be taking her place. Jill will
be around for another week, then she will take off and someone new will fill
her shoes. I asked them a million questions about the work they are doing,
and they invited me and my dad to join them at Faraja today.

So, we met Jill, Lauren and two other girls who work at a school close to
Faraja at 9am this morning to head to the school... it is way on the
outskirts of Moshi, and because it is all dirt roads that don't have names,
the school is nearly impossible to find if you don't know the way (the
directions include things like "turn right at the coffin shop," "walk
through the bushes down the big hill," and "pass the butcher."). When
everyone told me it was far, they weren't kidding... an hour and fifteen
minutes each way. We did the math... for the next month, I'll be walking at
least 9 or 10 miles a day, just getting to work. But the walk is amazing.
All of the little kids sit outside and say "Mzungo!" (which means "white
person") and wave excitedly as we pass by. A few also say "Good Morning,"
which is one of the only phrases they know, and they will use it no matter
what time of day it is.

So after the long, sweaty walk, we got to the school. The man and woman who
run the school, Mr. and Mrs. Masawe, greeted both my dad and I with warm
handshakes, big hugs, and kisses on the cheek. Neither of them speaks very
much English at all, so communicating was interesting. Then I met all the
kids. There are about 25 in all (my dad says he counted 27), and new
children show up every day. THEY ARE THE CUTEST THINGS I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!!!
They are much younger than I expected, about 3 - 7 years old, and one 8 year
old named Thomas who is sooo smart. We spent the day working on the
alphabet, counting, and some of the older kids had some one on one time
practicing sentences like "This is a book. This is a tree." They are so
proud of the work they do. I helped teach the kids "Head, Shoulders, Knees
and Toes"... basically at this point they are still mumbling along, but at
least they can point to the right body part :) Then we played. All of the
children want all of your attention all the time... for the whole play time
I had about 8 kids hanging off of my back, my arms, my legs, anywhere they
could latch onto. They LOVE to be picked up, hold your hand... they crave
any kind of attention.

...And its understandable. Here is the sad part. As you know, the school is
for orphans... kids who have no where else to go and they can't afford to go
to a traditional school. Lauren and Jill were telling me that a lot of their
parents have just died within the past month or two. As if that wasn't
horrible enough, a few of the children also have AIDS :( :( :( I almost
cried when I heard this... you can see that a lot of them are sick... runny
noses, very tired - Jill and Lauren said a few fall asleep during lessons
all the time. I can't even bear to think that they are so young and already
have to suffer through that horrible disease...

But the school was started by Mr. Masawe to help the kids. His wife died (he
is now remarried), and he had so much trouble putting his own kids through
school, he wants to do anything to help these children. This means he
invited them into his home and spends all day teaching them however he can,
because he can't afford to pay for a qualified teacher. Until 2 weeks ago
when a couple from Los Angeles came here to volunteer, there wasn't even a
school building for Faraja. But the couple had just gotten married and asked
for all of their wedding gifts to be donations for their trip to Africa.
They then used all of this money to build a "school" (which is really a
cement floor, one wall and a tin roof), get the students shoes and uniforms
(because none of them had shoes before this), and the rest of the money to
spend on lunch for the kids each day. Before that they rarely ate... even
now, lunch at school is most likely the only meal they get each day... until
I realized that, I was amazed to watch these 30 pound (if that) kids stuffed
FOUR huge servings of rice and beans into their tiny bodies. So basically
the school is in desperate need of whatever help they can get. Mr. and Mrs.
Masawe are so thrilled to have the help. When I told him that I wasn't just
a one day visitor, and I would be staying for the next 4 weeks, he clapped
his hands with a huge smile on his face and I really thought for a minute he
was going to jump up and down.

So of course this has been another very long email, but its a lot of the
background info about where I'll be for the next month, so I hope you find
it interesting :) I'm so excited to get started. I took some pictures of the
kids today, and my dad will be bringing them home with him... so maybe he
can get those posted online and you can all see their beautiful faces soon

Miss you all!
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photo by: joseph98