First Day at Faraja

Moshi Travel Blog

 › entry 7 of 10 › view all entries
Hello everyone!!

After a relaxing weekend, I just got done with my first official day of
work!! I’m exhausted, but it was great. I can’t get over how much I love
the kids. They are so excited about every single second of school, and all
day they just scream, “teech-ah, teech-ah!!!” while they wave their
papers in the air, and then latch onto our arms or legs when we come to
check their work. They LOVE high fives, and I taught them to pound fists,
which they think is hilarious.

Anyway, after work we went to Mama Leah’s house… she owns a school down
the road, and speaks English very well, so all the volunteers always become
very close with her. Yesterday was Tina’s (one of the other volunteers)
birthday, so Mama Leah had a party. Its amazing how these people have
literally nothing, but they somehow manage to do special things for
others… from huge things like starting a school for orphans, to little
daily things like Mama Leah did today, baking a cake and making a nice meal.
She wouldn’t even eat anything because she wanted to make sure all of us
got enough (‘no, no, I don’t like it,’ she insisted). Shortly after
arriving in Tanzania and walking around in the town markets, I began to
contemplate becoming a vegetarian. The meat just sits out in the sun all day
with flies crawling all over it. Besides that, the meat is really different
here. Beef is very chewy, and the chicken is about 99.9% bones… which is
understandable considering the animals here aren’t fed like kings and
pumped with hormones before they are slaughtered. and as much as I’m
trying to adapt to the culture and I really want to eat local food and not
be difficult… that is just one of the things that was taking me the
longest to learn to deal with. But anyway, today I made the final decision
to be vegetarian after Mama Leah brought a chicken into the middle of the
room, gave it to Tina for her birthday (literally, she handed it to her and
Tina held onto its legs while it flapped around a bit)… then Mama Leah
killed it. Then she cooked it and served it for lunch. I almost fainted
while I watched... I am so impressed by everyone’s self-sufficiency here.

So today we also met with a mason/carpenter about building walls for Faraja
Orphan Center. I don’t remember if I wrote about this yet, but, the school
has no walls, just a roof. Whenever it rains, the kids either get wet, or
cram into a very tiny room in Mr. and Mrs. Masawe’s house. One of the
other volunteers, Jill from Ireland, raised about 800 dollars before she
came to donate to whatever project she was assigned to, and shes going to
put it towards building the walls. Construction begins TOMORROW… but the
thing is, there isn’t enough money to finish the project yet. The mason is
going to start and see how far he can get with the available funds, but
about 800 more dollars is still needed. So, here’s what I’m doing… if
anyone at all is interested in donating to Faraja, I’ve worked out a way
to do so. Keep in mind that this is not through an organization, so
donations will not be tax deductible or anything like that, but know that
every single penny will be put to good use. My mom and dad have agreed to
collect and deposit any checks that are mailed to my house into my account,
which I can easily access while I’m here from an ATM downtown. Every check
will be assigned a number and I will keep track of donations on my blog
you can also see a picture of what Faraja looks like right now at this
site). I will then send an email to let each person that donates know which
number represents their donation… that way everyone knows exactly how much
has been raised, and that their contribution has been accounted for. Please
please don’t feel obligated at all to give, I just wanted to let you all
know about this in case anyone is interested in helping out. I know everyone
gets asked for money all the time, and there are so many different people
and organizations that need support, but after being here with these kids
even for such a short time, I can’t just sit here and not try to do
SOMETHING to help. In Swahili, “Faraja” means “comfort”… and to
these orphan children, it really is the only place they can find comfort…
So, if you are interested in contributing and making Faraja even more like a
home for the kids (and again, DO NOT feel obligated), please mail a check
made out to me to my home address --you know it, or can get it from me or
my parents. No donation is too small �" even a dollar can go a loooong way
towards helping these kids (just think, a pair of new shoes for the children
costs one dollar. To send one of the older children to a government school
once they turn 7 is only about 50 dollars a year.) If by some miracle all of
the money to build the walls is raised, the school has so many other needs,
the extra donations will be put to good use as well. Right now, the children
have absolutely no school supplies. Mrs. Masawe cooks their lunch outside,
without any shelter from rain. The school doesn’t even have a bathroom…
the children use a bush about 10 feet behind the school. Mr. Masawe also
hopes to put some sort of play structure for the kids to use… anyway, long
story short, there is a lot of unmet need here, so if you are interested in
helping, feel free, and if you have any questions, let me know!

Anyway, I have to get back to the volunteer house and do some lesson
planning. I’m so excited because one of the other new volunteers, Kate,
who is working at Faraja with me is an education major in England  (most
volunteers on these Teaching English Programs have absolutely NO experience
working with kids or teaching, which can be interesting). After meeting her,
I was like “yeah, I hope you don’t mind that I’m going to want to make
plans every day…” because a lot of the volunteers just go in the
classroom and wing it… and while its fun and the kids still learn, it
means that there is no real structure to what they are accomplishing in the
long run. So anyway, Kate replied, “are you kidding me?? I LOVE lesson
plans.” So, we’re on the same page, and we’re both already hard at
work developing a long term curriculum for the orphanage (we’re only the
second set of teachers to come through, so we’re in a good position to
help establish something positive).

Okay, miss you all!! I gave in and bought a cell phone, but only because
they are ridiculously cheap (28 dollars), and it’s the only way for me to
talk to my parents at an affordable price… and because its almost
necessary to have one here for making arrangements with our in-country
coordinators, calling taxis, talking to other volunteers, etc etc… So, if
you are dying to hear my voice (yeah I know you are haha), feel free to give
me a call. The number is 0762899563 and I’m fairly certain that to call
from the United States, you dial 011 255 762899563 (that’s 011 255, drop
the 0 and then the rest of the number).

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photo by: joseph98