Week 3 Volunteering...

Bagamoyo Travel Blog

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It is hard to believe that we are already finished with three out of our four weeks of volunteering!  Time has really flown.  This was our first week with the kids.  They are an absolute blast!  Some of my favourites include Rama (boy -class clown, always smiling), Warda (girl-one of the teacher’s, Fatuma’s, daughters- kind of resembles Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes J), Mariki (boy- bald, usually smiling, smart), Juma (boy- likes to do a ‘secret’ handshake with me- he just lost his two front teeth, so his smile is adorable).  I know it’s bad to have favourites, but it’s so hard not to!

The school day starts with the students together greeting all the teachers with “Good morning, madame! How are you?” One of us responds, “Good morning!  I am fine (or good, etc), How are you?”, to which they all respond in unison, “We are fine, thank you.”  Then they move on to the next teacher.  It is adorable.  They’re so good at it, in fact, when you ask just one of them, out of the blue, “How are you?” He or she will still respond, “We are fine, thank you.  How are you?”  J  After these greetings, we move on to songs.  Some of my favourite songs include: “Ten Little African Boys”…where 10 little boys (or girls) stand up front and count to the song “Ten Little Indians”….sooo cute.  We also sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”, “The Ants Go Marching”, “There are Seven Days in a Week”, “This Way and That Way and…”, and “We are Jumping, We are Jumping”.  After songs, the kids have ugi, this porridge that looks and smells pretty horrible, but they seem happy to get it.  They each get a cup of it…It kind of resembles an off-color Malt-o-Meal.  Then they brush their teeth (We actually taught them this their first week…A lot of past volunteers have said they think it should be a daily thing…So one of the girls had raised a lot of money, and purchased 70 toothbrushes for the kids).  They were cute the first day…They’d run up to us, giving us a big smile to show their new clean teeth!  After teeth brushing, they do a chanting exercise with new vocab words…The teacher points to a triangle, and they say “A triangle, a triangle, that is a triangle.”  They’ll also say “Pembetatu”, the Swahili word for triangle.  Then we break up into small groups, and review the vocab words with our group of 5-8 kids.  That can get pretty crazy!  I am learning that pre-schoolers don’t have quite the attention span of middle schoolers J  It is a good time though.  We have a short break, and then are supposed to have a math or counting lesson after that.  We weren’t able to get to the 2nd lesson yet, just because everything was taking a little extra time with teaching brushing teeth, etc.  Hopefully this week we’ll be able to get more done during class.  Then the kids all come back together and we’ll sing a “Kwaheri (Good-bye)” song before they leave.  By about Wednesday, a few of the kids were noticing that I rode my bike by where they lived, so now at the end of class time, they conveniently climb up the back of my bike and sit until I start to go!  Hehe…They are so sweet.  Kisesa and Ramu (two of my favourite boys)...I have a personal bus service J  Love it.

The 4th of July was a good time…We opened a few bottles of wine, sang the Star Spangled Banner for Kristin (yes!  It was terrible, but funny that she really wanted to hear it!), and hung out for awhile.  We tried a new liquor called “Zed”, which is a pineapple flavoured-vodka type drink.  It was really good mixed with Diet Coke!  A little later, we went to another Beachy Fire, but there was not a lot of people there, and no drummers (which was odd), so we went on to “Hunter’s Club”, a disco club that has Ladies Night on Wednesday nights…And that night just happened to be Wednesday!  The club was pretty dead, but we hung out a little bit with a few of Robbi’s artists and then went home!

Also this week, we all ended up getting our dresses and clothes from Pili (the seamstress).  I had two sundresses, a skirt, a shirt, and a headband made.  A lot of us had quite a bit like this made, so we actually had a fashion show.  We cleared out the tables in  the banda, formed a ‘catwalk’, started some music, and began our show!  It was such a blast J  One of the girls from North Carolina videod the whole thing.  Hilarious. 

On Thursday, Robbi, Lynn, and I took an African dance class from Mbiro, a man that works at the art college.  He was such a sweet man!  He taught us some phrases in Swahili so that we could dance and sing responses to him while sang and played the drums.  It was amazing!  Was probably one of my favourite things that I’ve done here.  We’re going again next week, and I think we might try to video it.  With my memory, I know I’ll never be able to re-create it otherwise!

This past weekend, we stuck around Bagamoyo since it was our last weekend we’d be here.  On Friday night, we took our cooks (Happy and Elisabeth) out to Millenium, a beach resort near our house.  They appreciated not having to cook, and have us ‘cook’ for them J  I had a prawn curry dish with chipate….Soooo good!  On Saturday, we woke up and went for a run and then stayed on the beach in the morning.  It was a beautiful morning for it.  I finished the book I was reading: “Night” by Elie Wiezel.  It’s a book written by a survivor of the Holocaust.  Dad, I instantly thought of you while reading it…I think you’d love it.  That afternoon, we biked to Kaole, a town about 5km from Bagamoyo.  It is a really rural town with pretty much everyone living in mud huts.  Past the town a little bit, there are ancient ruins of mosques and tombs from the 13th and 14th centuries.  I’m sure it was pretty important to some people…but to me, it was a lot of old stone.  The bike ride was nice though!  Then we biked to the Catholic Mission Museum in Bagamoyo.  That museum was a little more interesting.  There were stories about how this mission helped the slave trade, and it was actually the first Christian church in East Africa.  On Sunday, we woke up and went to church at this church.  We didn’t understand a thing, but it was still really nice to be there!  And guess who the choir director was?  Our African dance teacher!  That was pretty neat.  I won’t forget the music…It was much more upbeat than any Catholic church I’ve been to.  They would start each song with a really upbeat beat…hard to explain, but funny everytime I’d hear it.  It was a very long church service…about 2 hours.  About an hour into the service, everyone started filing out of their pews and going up to the front.  We went as well, assuming we were going up for communion.  We got all the way to the front to see a box in front of us with a slit at the top for our ‘offering’….whoops!  Didn’t bring any money up with us!  We were laughing about it later…A few of the girls faked putting money in…I just walked right past!  I must have looked like such a cheapie!  Then at the end of the service (about 45 minutes later), they had communion.  After church, we all went to another resort in town called Paradise.  It was nice…We just sat by the pool and read.  Bagamoyo is a popular vacation place I think because of the nice beaches.  This is just starting to be high tourist season. 

Today was our last Monday is Bagamoyo L  Time has really flown!  We spent the morning with the kids.  It was good to see them again!  They are soooo sweet.  Then after school, Jimmy (the director) took us to a few of the kids’ homes that live near the school just so we could see where they live.  That was nice to see.  All that we went to lived in mud huts, which is the norm in Bagamoyo.  It was interesting to see that a lot of them live with extended family as well: grandmas and grandpas too.  We brought some candy, bug nets, a frisbee, etc around to give to kids that we saw on the road.  It was really funny to try to show the kids what to do with a candy necklace J  They were cute.  Jimmy told us that one of the children’s mothers just passed away last year.  We asked what she was sick with, and he said it was from a witch.  We were kind of surprised, so probed further, and found out that witches and witch doctors are a common belief here.  He asked if we wanted to meet a witch doctor because he knew one…A father of one of his students.  We weren’t really sure if we wanted to meet one, but he took us to one anyway!  Then the ‘doctor’ took us to his office, and showed us his herbs.  It was really interesting.  Jimmy translated for us.  He is Muslim, and said that he treats all types of illnesses (from witches, malaria) with herbs and the Koran.  He said that he wanted to pray for us.  He lighted some incense, and recited some things in Swahili….sooo interesting.  It felt pretty crazy actually…Maybe the only time I’ll meet a witch doctor!

So that has been my week….It is hard to believe we only have 4 more days with the kids!  Tomorrow morning, Jimmy is going to bring us to a primary school to see where the children from his school go after they finish.  I’m looking forward to that.  Friday is always Beachy Day, so one more of those.  Then Saturday morning, Robbi and I are going up to Arusha and Moshi for 5 days (northern Tanzania).  That area is famous for being near all the good safari areas and Mt. Kilimanjaro.  I’m excited!!  Then on the 19th, we are flying to Capetown, South Africa to spend our last 5 days down there before we fly out on the 25th…..Time flies!  I’m having such a great time, and thank you again for your prayers and thoughts.  We have been so blessed with safety, health, love, and guidance since we’ve arrived.  I love you and miss you!  I’ll see you soon!

cnd says:
Tara, just gotta let you know how much we have been enjoying your blogs. It just makes me feel like I'm there with you - I can just see your cute students, and you on your bike - thanks for sharing! Love ya - Carol
Posted on: Jul 15, 2007
gtanghe says:
Tara, I had a hearty laugh when I read about your going to the front of the church and arriving with nothing in hand to give--oops! Funny!

Posted on: Jul 10, 2007
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