Whistle While You Work
It is hard to believe it’s already week number deux since I arrived in Africa. It feels as though I have been here a few months already because there has been so much for us to do! Exciting update: we now have internet and a phone at Shalom. Prior to this purchase last week, all records, receipts, inventories etc were done manually in a slew of various notebooks. Isaac has begun to go through them, as almost all are completely in Kiswahili. Later this week he and Ellen will sift through them together. Also, our fave painter, Pascali, the same man who painted the veranda just completed the two offices and the baby room. It’s amazing what a few coats of paint can do to brighten things up!
On the road…always! Ellen has consistently been on the road for the past few days, whether to Arusha or down to Dar es Salaam. If she could get points for traveling via mini-van taxi, a la British Air or Delta, she’d certainly be on her way to some free trips! The most recent trip to Dar was for a visit to see Viona, one of the younger children from Shalom, who is receiving chemotherapy for cancer, and Mama Ndogo, who has been staying with her. The children in the cancer ward sleep two to a bed so all of the beds are flanked with two adults, making a total of 4 who sometimes sleep in one bed. Crazy to believe I know, but true nevertheless. A few years back Viona had a tumor removed from her stomach and in early September was sent back to the hospital because she was very ill. Now she will be in Dar until February because of the necessary treatments. Please keep her and Mama Ndogo in your prayers.
Ever see those t-shirts that read something like: “Hook’d on fonics worked for me!” For the past few days I have been working tirelessly on some giant posters to help with English lessons. Because there are not enough books even for the children to share (we have at most 4 or 5 of the same kind for groups of 20 each), I’ve resorted to having some fun with different colored sharpies. The cheapest place in town where I can make photocopies has been closed the past two days so I’ll have to try again tomorrow. Making 400 copies requires the cheapest price. In a few odd moments over the past few days, I’ve had the chance to give individual papers to some of the children. Once completed and corrected, they place them under their mattresses for safe keeping. (A project we hope to do at some point in the near future is to build cubbies under each child’s bed so he/she can store things such as this or any other personal items in a safe place). Lessons are set to begin this evening with the eldest children…Let’s hope I don’t need to break out the fonics t-shirt!
Another facelift for Shalom, ay?!
Ashley and Courtney, our rock star volunteers from Canada who stayed a few extra days to help us before continuing their travels around the world left yesterday. They helped out so much and the children LOVED them. The boys especially enjoyed Courtney’s attention and football skills. In addition to showing some TLC, the pair painted murals throughout the orphanage and repainted the black board. In the classroom, they did some fabulous monkeys hanging from trees and then in the foyer area they painted “Welcome-Karibu”…but that’s not all. The job was not complete until we had the children and Mama Warra do hand prints with acrylic paint (couldn’t use the normal stuff as most children love to put their hands in their mouth…more on this later). It truly brightens up the foyer area and was incredible fun for the children.
Becoming a local
Over the past few weeks I’ve walked into town on a few different occasions, whether to buy paint, water, stop at the Post Office or to use the internet. Recently as I walked around, not only did we run into Saning’o, our fave Maasai, but also the mason and the ladies from which Ellen and I have purchased hand-woven baskets. The local internet café owner has also become a new BFF. My fave though is the seamstress who made all the uniforms for the children of Shalom. She is just fantastic and so beautiful! Last week Ashley and I stopped in for a visit and after she and I said our greetings, we just sort of stared at each other smiling, a mutual understanding that greetings were as far as we’d get for now, for her English is limited like my Kiswahili. Ashley purchased some fabric from her and I am determined to have a dress or two made, as she’s a genius! Mama Warra actually presented Ellen and me with beautifully hand-made outfits. Ellen has zebras on hers and it’s a perfect fit! Mine, befittingly, is a flower combo in green and khaki, but I must get it tailored a bit so as to not make any friends walking in town…it’s a bit large on the bottom. I was never one for the plumber in training look…
I have become the resident garbage, or “takataka” collector around Shalom. From balloons, papers and even foam in children mouths (yes, I am serious), I constantly can be seen stooping with hand out as children hands over the “takataka” or more often, spits it into my hand. Glamorous, I know. Note, if you plan to visit Shalom any time soon, kindly refrain from giving balloons. I must have collected over 50 balloons, either full ones or just pieces, from children’s mouths and the floor. Thankfully many of the children now come running up to me announcing the “takataka” item in their hands, proudly handing it to me. Yusuphu, one of the younger boys is probably the most hysterical as he makes announcements half-mockingly. It’s rather endearing.
Remember that kid from your class that always ate the glue in art class, or something enjoyed a nibble of loose leaf paper? Perhaps it was you?! Well my friends, meet Jackson, aka “Jacki” or “Maasai”, or as I call him, Sir Takataka. This child always, always, always has something in his mouth that he’s chewing on. Once he realized that I was coming around doing a collection, he purposely shoved all his items in his mouth at one—obviously unaware that he was all the more obvious. From this moment, a monster has been born! His favored items include stickers and paper. On Tuesday as we were doing hand-prints with the paint, Courtney, Ashley and I mapped out our plan of action for him so as to stop any temptation of licking his hands…I am not even close to kidding. C, A & I later decided that he must have an overly sensitive palate. Perhaps he’ll grow up to be a wine connoisseur.
Little John too is a constant culprit of the takataka disposal method. In the span of about twenty or thirty minutes, he spat out first a balloon and then some foam, FOAM! Note: the children’s mattresses are made of foam.
Recently some whistles were given to the children so along with the constant echoes of laughter and bouncing tennis/footballs against the concrete, Ellen and I find ourselves working to the tune of whistles…