Apples and Peanut Butter
WELCOME AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN : D
That’s What Friends are For
Prior to leaving for Arusha last week, Ellen and I met with the local CPAR office. Throughout the meeting we learned very useful information about Shalom’s past. Likewise, we made a new friend who promised to introduce us to some other local contacts who are committed to helping the people of our community! It was most exciting : )
While in Arusha, we met with a great organization called “The Foundation For Tomorrow”. I highly recommend you check out their website. TFFT helps secure sponsorship for orphans so they can attend school and receive the care they need. We hope to operate our Child Sponsorship Program successfully like TFFT does.
Lastly, we headed to Lake Eyasi (about a 1.5 hour drive from us) on Wednesday for another meeting. A man named Merick has started the Humura Foundation through which he secures sponsorships for orphans living in the Lake Eyasi region. To read more about Lake Eyasi, please see one of my first posts—I mention the visit to the Bushmen and Datoga tribes. Anyway, some of the children under Merick’s care are from the Datoga tribe. Ellen and I were uncertain of what to expect, as Merick had visited Shalom on several occasions because Mama Warra is a sort of mentor for him. He had given us some details of his work but was very anxious to have us visit him.
After making the 1.5 hour VERY OFF ROAD journey, we were pleasantly surprised and honored as he took us around to the four different schools in the Lake Eyasi region where the children under his care attend. We traveled by car, thankfully, as the schools were at least 10-15 minute drives from each other in the labyrinth that is the Lake Eyasi/Bush region. Through donations from some Germans they are able to add some buildings to one of the schools as well as a water system that pumps water from the fresh spring not too far. Merick is a rock star.
As you have read, Ellen and I spent last weekend in Arusha for a wedding. Lucky for me I didn’t spend the 2 hour drive stuck between the driver and passenger in the front seat. Rather, Mama, Ellen and I enjoyed a spacious ride in the middle set of seats! Prior to Saturday’s wedding, we decided to indulge in city life. (Arusha is the closest large city to our little town). This included watching a movie (The Hangover) in a real movie theatre and sipping lattes just moments after purchasing a copy of “The International Herald Tribune” and the latest copies of “TIME” and Oprah’s magazine. Watch out. The fun didn’t stop here though!
Saturday morning we stopped by this fantastic place called “Shoprite”—a real supermarket! It truly is the little things, my friends! For the first few minutes I walked up and down the aisles in a bit of a trance, eyeing first the fresh apples and avocadoes, then moving along to the garlic cloves, and wine, convenient located just a turn from the fruits and veggies. I then ventured to the glorious aisle where we found berry preserves and natural peanut butter (sans hydrogenated and other bad oils for you), simply two of my most fave things! (We later enjoyed apples and peanut butter once back at home at Shalom. We shared the goodness with Saning’o, who peeled his apple with his giant spear, then applied a generous coat of peanut butter.)
Back to Shoprite, I voiced how overwhelmed I was to Ellen a few times, especially as our diet for the past 4 weeks has included: rice, beans, spaghetti, bread, eggs, instant coffee/tea, green beans and peas, carrots and onions. Of course there is nothing wrong with this diet, I merely was excited for some variation. I almost keeled over when we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant. It didn’t really hold its own compared to some of the delish places in Chinatown, but again, a little variety can be exciting!
The wedding was very interesting. First of all the ceremony was 3 hours itself, NOT including the reception. All of it was in Kiswahili as well so it was challenging at times. That said, it was pretty fantastic to witness and to recognize the differences in wedding ceremonies and even receptions across cultures. The groom entered first to the congregation singing songs. After a few songs, he walked back out—note by “walk” I mean inched his way, as his steps were about one inch long—I’m not even close to kidding. Anyway, he inched his way back to the door where his bride entered to the tune of a live brass band—trombones, French horn, trumpets and drums. Once the bride and groom (who were TOO adorable) inched their way back up to the front, they took their seats in front of the best man and matron of honor. Periodically throughout the ceremony, the best man and matron would take turns blotting the faces of the groom and bride with handkerchiefs. It wasn’t terribly warm in the ceremony, but I suppose they were nervous and also wanted to look their best in photos.
Which brings me to my next point: there was not just one or even two photographers capturing the special day, there were about 5 or 6, including one special fellow who took photos with his phone. To make it even more special, the phone’s camera was not silent or any where near unrecognizable. Rather each time he chose to take a photo, the electronic device would make a sort of a count down that sounded like a bomb ready to go off. Special, indeed. Also, one of the photographers would randomly snap shots of Ellen and me or just of us individually. Thankfully we learned at the reception that they printed out the photos to sell…not to just keep and be creepy! I kid, sort of.
The reception was just as lively. It was outside under tents and as wedding guests walked up to the bridal party with their gifts, they were given a bit of the roasted goat. Ellen and I were the last to give in our card so we somehow managed to sidestep the goat. The buffet was just as interesting (and quite delish) as the experience of the Tanzanian wedding had been. And even though she and I both wore the outfits Mama had made for us, we still managed to NOT blend in. The stares throughout our arrival at the ceremony and reception were constant. It felt as though we were taking away from the happy couple at times as we received attention. Nevertheless, it was an adventure!
Sunday we ventured to a local hotel and relaxed poolside. It was quite the oasis until a small child with a tube fastened between his chest and belly button decided to scream for a while as his mother and sisters refused to give him the attention he demanded.
Trick or Treat!
I’m sure most of you, my faithful friends and readers, have been busy carving pumpkins, buying the funpaks of candies in preparation for trick or treaters and making decorative arrangements of your favorite gourd combinations. Well, I must say that we too here in Tanzania have been channeling the Halloween spirit. On Thursday night as Ellen and I saw out on the porch with our fave Maasai, Saning’o, I happened to glance over between guitar strums and singing towards the kitchen. Just then a bat flew towards us, swooping back and forth from one end of the porch to the next. Ellen and I both hit the ground at about the same speed as the creature, but luckily our faithful Saning’o, the love, stood confidently with his Maasai club (a gift Ellen picked up in Arusha for him last weekend) ready for action. With one swift swing and smack, (à la Batman—remember when the screen would show “BAM” or “POW” following by the smacking/kicking noise?!) our winged-friend fell to the ground.
ALSO, some of our friends from FAME Medical just up the road have invited us to a Halloween party tonight at an art gallery not too far from us. It is exciting making new friends!
Welcome to English Lessons
Though I wrote a few weeks ago that I would be teaching English to the children and staff, it happened for the first time yesterday with the staff. Due to all the meetings we have been attending as well as the loads of emails and excels, we had not been able to teach. Anyway, the twelve staff members who attended the lessons were MORE than grateful that we took the time to help them learn English. As much as they want us to speak Kiswahili (and we do too of course), they are so eager to learn English. As Ellen and I handed out new notebooks and pens to each of the students, they were beaming! Throughout the 75 minutes we spent in the classroom, we shared many laughs, questions and confused looks (on both parts). I have this little pocket English-Kiswahili dictionary I always carry around and they have each eyed it on separate occasions. I hope that we’ll eventually be able to get them one of their own so they can practice as much as they’d like.
Ellen has this amazing Kiswahili binder of lessons that her Kenyan tutor created for his prior to arriving in Tanzania. Teme, the other Maasai has borrowed it a few times and as we were riding in the cab home from town two days ago, Teme asked us how to pronounce one of the animal’s names. Unfortunately he could not remember the animal so he just put his hands as horns on each side of his head and then went “wraaaahhh” a few times. Eventually we figured out he meant wildebeest but it truly was fantastic trying to figure it out! Even the driver and Saning’o joined in the crazy laughter once we had named the animal.
You all remember Shangazi I am sure—I just wrote about her—our cook! After continually inviting Ellen and myself to eat at Shalom, we happily took her up on her longstanding offer and shared a meal with the children last night. Not only was Shangazi absolutely ecstatic, but so were the children. As Ellen and I entered the classroom (remember, it doubles as the eating area for right now), beaming smiles were seen between bites of the rice, beans and greens.
Shortly following dinner, some of the older children insisted on doing stretches which included jumping jacks and random stretches I used to do before flag football practice. All of these were quite a feat, as we had literally just finished eating. Thankfully the children stopped the stretches after a few minutes and some cajoling!
Lastly, the dance fever has continued. Beyoncé is still the preferred artist with “Single Ladies” being the absolute favorite. Words cannot describe. I tried to capture it with some photos…even these don’t do justice to the enjoyment!
And the adventure continues!