Well, the adventures have certainly continued! Personally I traveled to Mongolia in July for a three week adventure which included a 13-day horseback riding loop, attendance at various Naadam festivals and the consumption of more yak products than I could have ever imagined. Alas, I’ve always been prone to pushing the boundaries of my imagination and personal comfort! Was also grateful for a stopover in Korea where I was reunited with a dear college friend! Photos of Mongolia to come…
Most importantly, 2016 has been an eventful year for Journeys of Solutions’ Child Sponsorship Program! In fact, October marks the 7th year of our program!
Back in 2009, I excitedly walked with Agness, Glory Ae., Glory Ay., Charles, Eliya, Rose V., and Rose S. to neighbouring Tumaini Junior School for their placement testing. Here’s a pic I snapped as the children whispered questions to each other and joked about the placement test as we continued along the familiar dusty road from Shalom to Tumaini. Certainly the gift of education has been a rich one and continues to provide endless possibilities to the students we support! Over the years we have watched these incredible children grow and mature into confident, young adults. A HUGE THANK YOU to our donors for such generosity and dedication to these young lives!
| THEN |
| NOW |
Also, in case you missed it*, we recently put out the Fall Newsletter ! See below for the blurb specific to the CSP!
*If you didn’t receive the newsletter, email me [firstname.lastname@example.org] and we’ll add you to the distribution list.
News from Karatu, Tanzania | Child Sponsorship Program
2016 has been another exciting and busy year (thus far!) for the CSP in Tanzania! In fact we are celebrating 7 years of supporting our students, many of whom are now in secondary schools across Tanzania!!
As you likely recall, Elizabeth returned to Tanzania last November for a brief visit with our sponsored students and partners. The children, now many young teens, had grown taller and the boys’ voices deepened. All the while their self confidence remained and continues to remain high. Simply put, through the generosity of our JOS donors, the lives of these children are immensely transformed.
FROM 19 to 11
Our CSP grew to 19 children since its beginning. In advance of the 2016 school year, we worked with one incredible JOS- and Tanzania supporter, Fiona Hall, to transition the students she has supported since 2010 to her company, All Around Tanzania. The students continue to thrive at their respective schools and enjoy visits with Fiona and other AATz folks. Our remaining eleven JOS students, all but one from Shalom, relish their moments together during holidays when they can be with their Shalom family.
MR. TOM RETURNS TO TANZANIA
In May, longtime JOS supporter and volunteer extraordinaire, beloved Mr. Tom, returned to Karatu for a two week stay. Mr. Tom spent quality time with Tumaini students and teachers alike at both the junior and secondary schools. The laptop computers he brought along were gratefully received by all, many laughs were shared too of course!
PRIMARY SCHOOL NEWS
Tumaini Junior School students are just beginning their third and final school term of 2016. Our sole primary student, Shedrack is in the midst of completing Standard VI. Shed is a strong student, a class leader and fantastic athlete. He was and remains our youngest student so has surely benefited from so much time at Tumaini Junior School. He is ecstatic to become a Standard VII student come January though certainly he has been a remarkable leader and role model to his fellow students for quite some time!
SECONDARY SCHOOL NEWS
Now that our secondary school students are dispersed across the country, their time in Karatu is limited. Between school holidays they excitedly return to Karatu where they visit with their Shalom brothers and sisters and even take a few tuition/tutoring courses offered by Tumaini Junior School. Our one student, Naomi, at Tumaini Senior Secondary School is loving TSSS. Most recently, the school was officially opened by ministry officials during their visit. Students are now back and excited to finish their last few months of the year.
In addition to learning new subjects like advanced chemistry and physics at secondary school, our students are also exposed to new lessons and school clubs, some learning on iPads whilst others are participating in debate club, dance and choir, and even becoming school prefects.
Finally, two of our students, Rose S and Charles E will soon sit for their Form II examinations which determine if students will matriculate to Form III. Also, 2017 will be a landmark year, as five of our students are set to sit for their Form IV exams and if passing them, they will graduate from secondary school!
With the majority of our students now in secondary school, and thus that much closer to college/university, we are in the throes of developing a college fund. This fund will enable our hardworking students to advance in their studies, be it to (two years of) A-levels, a technical school, or beyond. Elizabeth will be sharing more news on this before year-end so stay tuned! In the meantime, to learn more about this exciting development, contact Elizabeth: Mailto:email@example.com
It has been a privilege to journey with you and these children as they continue to pursue their respective educational endeavors. Asanteni sana!!
As those who know me know, it is rare to find me speechless or anywhere near it! And yet as I prepare to return to Tanzania for a 12 day whirlwind trip, words are indeed few. An early Christmas miracle, my friends!
My (brief) return shall mark the first time since 2008 that I have a strictly tourist visa. The children have continued to grow of course, beginning primary school and moving on to secondary school, and of course growing taller than I even with the red clay caked to the bottom of my shoes in the rainy season. Another miracle, I experienced being 5’8″ for a few weeks!
Simply, what a fantastic adventure has been mine. I am grateful you have journeyed with me, as friends, as supporters of Journeys of Solutions and its endeavors, and most importantly as advocates for the beautiful children. Today I celebrate my 31st birthday; just the second birthday state-side since 2009. Truly do I look forward to the continued adventures which are ahead, those likely upon the road less traveled. Let us continue on, dear friends!
Lastly, and for fun, a few haikus:
Thirty one-der ful
I was told just yesterday
Ah, youthful beauty!
In two weeks only
I’ll sip chai and look upon
My favorite sights;
A few hues more red
Dust in my every pore, oh
The purest beauty
Stay tuned for real-time updates during the 12 day whirlwind that shall be mine!
A HUGE “ASANTE SANA” TO EACH OF YOU AS WE CONTINUE JOURNEYING TOGETHER.
The days have passed quickly; I hope you haven’t felt neglected by the absence of my updates!
Alas, another school term has come to a close at Tumaini Junior School! My how the time flies! And, I have officially been in the US for a longer period of time than I have been outside of the US since 2008! But more on this first point for now!
The JOS-sponsored children, four more of whom began secondary (high) school in January 2015, continue to thrive at Tumaini and their respective secondary schools. Tumaini, too, has remained busy in providing stellar educational opportunities for its students and graduates. The half-year mark has been surpassed and we are just one school term away from 2016!
Primary School – One more term of 2015!
As of last week school is back in session, and just days away from celebrating another Standard VII Class graduation! These soon-to-be graduates have been poring over their lessons in preparation for the Standard VII National Examination which they must pass to enter secondary school. Worry not, these hard-working students also enjoyed some breaks which usually consist of an afternoon or two at a nearby lodge complete with cold sodas and beautiful pool!
The Standard VII Graduation Ceremony will shortly follow the National Exam (set for 9 & 10 September), so do stay tuned for additional photos from this special day! Staff and students have been practicing special presentations to bid farewell and good wishes to the Standard VII graduates. Needless to say, it is a very exciting time at Tumaini!
Standard VII students learning about new science equipment
Earlier this year, Tumaini had its 2nd Annual Alumni celebration, inviting back three classes of Tumaini Alum. The day was attended by many grads who regaled fellow students and staff alike with stories of secondary school life! On several occasions as JOS grads were back at Shalom (in addition to the Alumni day), Tumaini teacher Mr. Jimmy snapped some photos of these (quickly maturing) young men and women!
Here is Charles E., at secondary school with one of his teachers. (photo credit Rick French)
Tumaini Alum and Teachers at the June Alumni Celebration!
A Secondary School – Continuing to Strive for Excellence
Through the unwavering vision of Tumaini co-founder and director, Mr Bayo, and committed, generous donors, ground has been broken for a Tumaini Secondary School!! The school is slated to open in January 2016 with a Form I (US 9th grade) class of about 100 students. It will be private and is located in Makuyuni about 60KM (~37 miles) rom Karatu. JOS has 4 students graduating in September so we are thrilled for these students to join the inaugural class come January. Also, I am ecstatic to be returning to Tanzania for a brief visit in November so will have the privilege to see the site first hand.
In the meantime, some photos for you:
JOS board member, Rick French, visited the site earlier this year with Mr. Bayo and was put to work!
Science Lab block
Tumaini alum visit the secondary school site!
NOTE: you can read more about the Tumaini Secondary School project in Tanzania Education Corp’s latest newsletter [at bottom of this post]*.
Water is Life!
Another fun nugget about the secondary school site: water has been found!! JOS is currently in discussions about fundraising for this fantastic and very-much needed addition at the secondary school site; more details in the coming weeks! If you’re intrigued and would like additional details, leave a message here or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
As you may recall, JOS completed a water well at Tumaini Junior School back in 2012. At the February 2013 well dedication in my late father’s honor, my mom, brother and I each planted a tree at Tumaini Junior School. We celebrated alongside Tumaini staff and students as the water gushed forth and watered each of these plants. Here are some photos of the trees as we planted them…and here they are just a few months ago!!! In speaking with Mr Bayo, he remarked, “It is unusual for trees to grow quickly. I believe there are blessings you’ve left behind.”
Planting and watering the trees!
Just two years later!
It never fails. There’s at least a double take, that is, if I don’t catch myself before my gaze lingers for a few more seconds than is comfortable for some. I’ve been seeing the familiar faces of friends from Tanzania as I walk the streets of NYC. Bridgette walking along Broadway. Mama Pendo leaving a bodega. Pascalina waiting on the subway platform. Dr. Frank walking just ahead of me in the East Village. Countless students whose laughs I heard as they walked two by two with Vacation Bible School buddies. It never fails.
So many adventures were mine as I found myself alongside dear friends, precious children, and a journey of giraffe or two! Physically I remain thousands of miles away from Karatu (though interestingly, at times it feels as though I’m much farther from my present reality.) Whilst it has been eighteen months since I was in Tanzania – the longest period of time I have spent out of Tanzania since 2009 when my regular visits began – within an instant I’m back there, save a healthy coating of red dust upon me!
Of course, somehow life has continued. I have been (trying to) settle back into life in the Big Apple. After six months of temping through a fantastic agency, I secured a one year assignment and even signed a one year lease! I guess I’m a big girl now?! For the first time in a long while, I am living not out of a suitcase or two (or storage unit!), but have settled a bit, unpacked if you will. 2015 is the first full year in nearly 7 that I’ve seen myself in the US sans plans of an extended stay abroad. Polepole baby steps.
…2016, well we’ll see.
Thanks for reading and do stay tuned for additional updates coming soon!!!
www.tanzania-schools.org September 2015
Tumaini Senior Secondary School
To Open January 2016
Why build Tumaini Senior Secondary School?
Tumaini Junior School graduates are top performers. Each year several students earn assignments to the most competitive government secondary schools, and the remaining students, still top ranking, are assigned to a variety of other government schools. However, due to the poor overall quality of government schools, Mr. Bayo has been very concerned about their fate in secondary school. He did not want to see their investment in a Tumaini education wasted at underperforming secondary schools. Mr. Bayo began to think deeply about starting a secondary school himself.
Due to land constraints, locating the school in Karatu would be impractical. In Tanzania, towns and villages have the option of designating part of their lands for certain public uses such as schools or hospitals. Knowing this, Mr. Bayo approached the neighboring village of Makuyuni in 2012 about obtaining land to open a secondary school. Makuyuni is a small village located an hour and a half east of Karatu, and an hour from Arusha, the major city of the region. Mr. Bayo was notified in Fall 2014 that his proposal was approved, and he received title to 20 acres of land at no cost. Securing this land was a major milestone to establishing a secondary school.
TEC received grants from Navis Capital, Segal Family Foundation and individual donors to begin construction in late December 2014. Initially, six buildings will be needed: administration, classrooms, boys’ dormitory, girls’ dormitory, faculty housing, and science labs. In addition, a water well was dug in July 2015 and clean water was located at 130 meters.
In years 2016-2018, additional classrooms, dormitories and faculty housing will be constructed to accommodate each new entering class. By 2019, campus facilities will accommodate approximately 480 students, 25 teachers and 12 administrative and support staff.
To see more pictures of construction site click here
Long Term Goals and Measures of Success
Like Tumaini Junior School, the mission for the Tumaini Senior Secondary School is, “Educate the future leaders of Tanzania.” The lessons from Tumaini show that the essential elements are strong school leadership, motivated and caring teachers and ultimately, a culture of learning that values the individual student.
Both Tumaini Junior School and Tumaini Senior Secondary School will share their approaches broadly with the goal of providing a model for education in Tanzania. We see no reason why these approaches, if continually improved, will not permit Tanzanian students to ultimately compete with their international peers.
Would you like to help us build Tumaini Senior Secondary School?
TEC is committed to help Bayo raise the funds to open the new School in January 2016. We have made significant progress, but we have not reached our goal! Donate online at www.tanzania-schools.org or send a check to Tanzania Education Corp, 6 Norfolk Rd, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. Naming opportunities are available. Please send inquiries to Chall@tanzania-schools.org.
Journeys of Solutions has celebrated four more graduates from Tumaini Junior School!
On Saturday, September 20, Karatu was abuzz with the news—and still is in fact! Every year Tumaini has celebrated a Standard VII class graduation (which started in 2011), so too has the school had a 100% passing rate. Tumaini has remained number 1 out of more than 90 primary schools in the district and last year placed 40th out of 15,650 primary schools in the nation! 2014 results should be known within the next few weeks; we anticipate similar statistics!
Check out the four sponsored grads: Albert, Charles, Maureen and Rose below! These four students will begin secondary school in January (results will be known in the next few weeks so stay tuned!), joining JOS’ 6 other secondary school students. For now, Albert, Charles, Maureen and Rose are relaxing at home with their families before beginning some pre-secondary school studies in December.
The final school term is nearly complete with just under five weeks left. The excitement on campus is palpable; the Standard VI students are loving their status as eldest on campus and eagerly await their Standard VII year to begin in January. Likewise are all students anticipating a wonderful holiday season at home with their families!
A BIG THANK YOU to all JOS Sponsors–truly education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world!
I have not so dreaded a post since November 2011, in writing about dear, sweet Viona.
Ezekiel in 2009, getting ready for school. Always with a smile on his face.
Ezekiel in 2014, pictured with the Tumaini football team.
He is the second from the right on the back row.
Want to help?Please email me (email@example.com) and I would love to tell you more about getting involved. Here are some great groups working to empower lives in Tanzania:
Days have continued to be busy and very productive at Tumaini Junior School as the school remains a leader in academics and athletics!
Teachers and students have been poring over examinations with neighboring schools in preparation for upcoming national exams—Standard VII in September and Standard IV in November. Both classes must sit for and pass the examinations in order to advance to the next grade level. In fact, Karatu-wide Standard VII students sat for a mock exam in May. Tumaini students earned the highest marks in the district earning Tumaini the top spot out of 96 Karatu primary schools! Further, 30 Tumaini students earned A’s and 24 earned B’s; nothing lower!
Additionally, a handful of Tumaini athletes traveled to Arusha and some onto Dar es Salaam to represent Tumaini in sports competitions. Some of these skilled athletes are our very own Journeys of Solutions-supported students!
Here are some additional recent highlights from the school year so far:
Library books arrived, thanks to the efforts of a Tauck visitor and PepsiCo! Anne Wells and UNITE were also instrumental in filling the library shelves!
Tauck travels to Tanzania to cut the ribbon of Tumaini’s new library! Tauck generously donated to TEC to name Tumaini’s library!
The new beautiful library! Special thanks to Sara Shifrin (Gould Academy) for design assistance!
Tumaini Celebrated its 10 year anniversary and welcomed back its three alumni classes (2011, 2012 & 2013) to join the fun, marking the first few steps in creating a fabulous alumni network for Tumaini grads!
Standard VII Class
Class of 2012
Class of 2013
Class of 2014
Standard VII students visited the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the shifting sands
Road trip! Standard VII Students en route to seeing the rim on Ngorongoro Crater, Oldupai Gorge, and the shifting sands
Reading about the Crater
Looking over the rim!
Did you receive JOS’ recent newsletter?! If not, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add you to our list!
Support JOS through Amazon shopping!
I am thrilled to announce Journeys of Solutions is officially a registered organization with AmazonSmile!! That’s right, shop away and support JOS!!!
It is very easy: Every time you shop at Amazon, the company will donate a portion of your purchase to Journeys Of Solutions Inc. All you need to do is follow the link here and Amazon will automatically get you started with AmazonSmile. You can participate whether you are an Amazon Prime member or just an occasional shopper.
Article from the blog of Bill Gates on hunger in Africa
Check out this article
We have just finished day 16 of our Camino journey. (As a reminder, if you would like to read about the journey day by day, visit Karen’s blog here.)
During the 175+ miles (we are nearly 100 miles from Santiago!) we have logged since beginning our journey on May 20, we have walked, limped and trudged through and over various terrains. I did not know it was possible to have more blistered toes than blister-less ones–ah, defying odds wherever we go! As you may imagine, we have been wonderful patrons of farmacias throughout northern Spain!
We began walking from Burgos and have since traversed through small towns and big cities alike, mostly averaging 18-30km per day. Admittedly, the distance we have covered did not quite settle in until looking at a map of Spain several nights ago!
Though I love big cities, my favorite moments have been those spent walking across the scenic Spanish countryside.
Country road. This is actually part of the Roman Road, built more than 2,000 years ago!
Left with nothing but one’s thoughts for most of the day, personal reflection is the norm. Mornings are especially serene as the songs of birds (and sometime frogs and crickets!) fill our ears along with the wind’s gentle breeze. For the most part, it is very quiet, save the occasional hum of car and truck engines if near a main road or in a city. Thankfully more mornings have begun along quiet, country roads with little but wheat fields, windmills and wildflowers.
Iron Cross above Foncebadon.
As a group, we have agreed there is something so comforting about catching the first glimpse of each town’s steeple–visual proof that we will soon be reaching sanctuary, whether it be a café con leche, a tortilla, a non-bush toilet, a farmacia, or actual church for some quiet moments.
Sadly most of the small churches have been closed, but from time to time, we can at least peer through the windows to be met by beautiful frescos and mosaics.
Sometimes there is even a dim glow from the candles. At the very least, we stand in awe of the architecture and great care dedicated to building a strong foundation for those seeking sanctuary. Likewise, we try to imagine the many pilgrims who have walked before us.
Most of the churches date back to the 10th or 11th centuries, if not earlier, so the history alone halts us in our tracks for several minutes of silence. As we passed through Rabanal del Camino, we stopped in a church built in the 12th century. Rick brought out his flute and as he played AMAZING GRACE, it was as though the acoustics allowed the very notes to reach heaven.
Also, whilst in León, we had the privilege of attending a Mass in one of the larger cathedrals. The pipe organ’s notes resounded throughout the cathedral as our voices echoed. This same cathedral has over 1,800 metres of stained-glass windows and flying buttresses which apparently inspired the architect of Paris’ Notre Dame.
As in León, there have been several other small towns where we have attended Mass. Earlier this week in Ponferrada, in fact, we were privileged to attend a service which ended with a blessing for the pilgrims. Our group of 5, and 2 Canadians, were invited to the front to receive a blessing from the priests. Such moments have reminded us of the amazing relationship between Pilgrims and the communities through which the Camino travels.
In addition to the services, we have learned more about the rich history, such as knights being enlisted to protect pilgrims. Likewise, we have stayed in and traveled through small towns undergoing slow revivals on account of the Camino–more business opportunities as more travelers pass through. On Sunday actually, we passed through a town with a population of 1. ONE! We stopped in to have a café con leche and greet the man of the town.
Other encouraging and inspiring moments have popped up along our journey–like:
This falcon and its owner have visited many sick children (cancer) and other ailing patients. The bird’s flights remind his owner of freedom. Donations were accepted here too and went to childhood cancer research
Saturday and Sunday brought the most diversity in our terrain and surroundings: within minutes, we changed from walking along pavement to sand, then gravel, then cobblestones, before finally making or way up the mountainside upon steep rocks. Important note: what goes up, must come down!
Sunday brought steep downhill fun–my calves had just recovered this AM, though now are singing, er screaming, compliments of our 7.4km uphill hike today from Villafranca and subsequent 4.3km downhill hike to Trabadelo.
A much enjoyed, though short-lived straightaway!
Certainly every moment was breathtaking (in more ways than one!). We have some more uphill joy for this week, so I’m sure the farmacias are getting excited already!
Needless to say, as we passed up and over mountains, and wound our way through valleys, I have not fought the urge to sing the opening song from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (“Little town, it’s a quiet village…”) or “The hills are alive with the sound of music…” It’s only appropriate after all!
As a brief update from my last post, I am happy to report that thankfully we have had little rain since the downpour on day 2! The tarp has firmly remained in Rick’s pack, though my blue Quasimodo poncho has made several appearances. The sun has shone brightly, casting our shadows before us as we begin each morning then slowly moving to bear down upon our faces in the afternoons.
We are set to reach Santiago next week so stay tuned for additional updates!
Focusing on the journey
Well, dear friends, I have safely and successfully completed the second full day of our Camino pilgrimage. I will definitely write more once we have completed the journey, in three weeks, but for now thought I'd go ahead and share some details from the first few days of my journey. I should preface this: it seems adventures follow me wherever I go!
Oh and in case you want to keep up with our adventures on a near-daily basis, my lovely and fellow peregrina is keeping a blog here!!
A delayed start
When asked, “Where did you start the Camino?”, some may say their hometown, or the city from which they flew/took the train, or even the city in which they begin walking. So, I suppose I can claim mine began at the ever-exciting Newark airport (as I feel most partial to this–and it makes this next bit all the better!)
My generous mother dropped me off at lovely EWR (Thanks Mama K!) and within 10 minutes of my arrival, I was checked in and ready to go. I should’ve known this was not going to mean smooth sailing for the remainder of my time there, but I would like to say that I am an optimist, so at that moment, 310PM, I was feeling great! Just my 20Ib pack, a SPANISH IN 15 MINUTES book, my enthusiasm, and my delicate self, watch out Spain!
Fast forward to 645PM: on the runway we sat (Flight was supposed to take off at 555PM EST). While not quite a shocker that we were so delayed, I came to realize that my layover in Lisbon was merely an hour so hoped we would make up the time. Admittedly this probably would have dawned on me sooner than the in-flight announcement made 4 hours into the 6 hour 30 minute flight, had I not been concentrating so hard on not losing feeling in various parts of my body. Yes! You guessed right: not only was I in a middle seat, but it was doubly special being in a DOUBLE middle seat–the four seats across type deal. Normally when traveling with at least one person I know, it’s not so bad. When traveling by yourself though, it is not nearly as amusing because while your dear friend might find close proximity to you fun as you each struggle to get comfortable, or said friend has patience with your frequent trips to the toilet, strangers can be less flexible. Another confession: this seven hour experience has inspired me to write a series of THANK YOU LETTERS, so I shall be perfecting those in the coming weeks/months, as I feel the need to express my gratitude. Needless to say, the first few thank you notes will be for the man in 36E, the woman on 35F and the woman in 36G–those loving individuals who surrounded my 36F winning seat! My next notes will be for TAP PORTUGAL and the individuals working at the Lisbon airport. Upon arriving, a hearty mix of these two groups would ask where I was going. Upon saying “Madrid!”, they each responded, “Oh, Madrid? RUN!” After all, who doesn’t love an early morning run? I have had plenty, though only one other time did I feel so lethargic, which leaves me to wonder which is more fantastic? 1) A 2005 early AM training run for the NYC marathon during which I whacked my left arm against a van’s side mirror. (The car was parked.) Apparently one’s depth perception is a bit off when attempting a 4+ mile run following an all-nighter studying. OR
2) Monday morning’s 6AM sprint up 30+ stairs and across an airport terminal, through customs and security all the while passing hoards of people staring. Now that I think of it, it seems ironic the latter included more people shouting “RUN!”
I will leave the decision to you as I no longer wish to think of either!
Leaving city of Burgos for our first day of walking (Tuesday)
Rolling hills and mountains, as well as expansive plains and quaint small towns have filled our days thus far as we have followed a famous CAMINO DE SANTIAGO route as mapped out in John Brierely’s book. Church bells have welcomed us as we enter and pass through towns and birds’ songs have accompanied us as we walk on. Today, fields of poppies and other wild flowers decorated the greenery and seemingly endless wheat fields as we passed by old monasteries and hospitals turns hostels. The vastness of the buildings is humbling and I have found myself speechless with wonder as I attempt to imagine what it may have been like to walk these same paths thousands of years ago. Many sick and ailing pilgrims began the trek and needed to stop at hospitals whilst en route. Yes, I too am on my own pilgrimage in need of healing, I suppose, in search of something greater than myself. Needless to say, each moment has reminded us all of what a gift this time is.
An old hospital which would treat the ailing and leave bread out for passing pilgrims. Now in the place where bread once was, pilgrims may leave notes of well wishes or prayers, often held in place with rocks.
Karen, Monika, Mary, Rick and I were spoiled our first two nights: spent in a hotel and a spacious country home, respectively. In fact the latter had a magazine and poster with the signatures of Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, who reportedly had also been to the place, most likely around the time of filming THE WAY. Cannot blame them; what beauty! The squawking peacock, though an annoyance to most others, felt like a warm welcome, reminding me of my childhood. Our neighbors had one, so for the 10+ years we lived next door, the peacock’s squawking was like an alarm clock at all hours!
Many laughs have been shared thus far as we converse in English, Spanish, French and German with those around us. I’ve attempted to teach these fine people some Kiswahili, as I have an affinity to switch to it the more tired I become! That said it should be known: I fall into the first and third language categories, though am slowly absorbing more Spanish. Thankfully Rick and Monika (who is German and therefore fluent in the language too!) both have a good handle on Spanish so it has mostly been drama-less. I should also admit that I honed my gesticulating skills whilst in Tanzania so can sometimes communicate via (near) interpretive dance! Ah, another reason to write a THANK YOU note to Tanzania.
We will be covering roughly 20km/day, sometimes more, and so far I’ve learned a few lessons. The most important though, is definitely the importance of rain gear. I was excited to get started this morning until about minute 3 of walking, when Rick looked at me and asked, “Is that your rain jacket?” Enthusiastically I replied, “YES!” Rick then took my left cuff in his hand, felt it, then replied, “This is not a rain jacket, it’s a wind breaker.” And there you have it friends–yet another thank you note! My first purchase once home will be a rain jacket!
The first 60 minutes of the trek were very wet, involved Rick tying a green tarp around me–which, it should be known, was NOT waterproof either–though admittedly it has provided for some fabulous writing material so not all was lost (except the mobility skills of my extremities!!) It too enabled many to have a chuckle whilst looking at me. Truth be told, I felt like a teenage mutant ninja turtle so it wasn’t quite that bad! (NOTE: check Karen’s blog for a frightening picture of me donning the tarp–had I had a chunky belt, perhaps I could have pulled it off better!). Two other fun facts: there’s a decent chance each of my shoes weighed 2 lbs after trudging through mud so 1) not only was I finally 5’9″ (mud is like that of Karatu which cakes onto one’s shoes) but 2) so too will I soon have Herculean quadriceps! Either way I am just thankful that now, 7 hours later, I am finally dry.
Funny enough, at dinner tonight, as we all shared our favorite moments from the day, I found myself sharing my freezing moments as a turtle as being my most memorable. Due to the wind which caused the rain to fall at an angle, blinding me, and the ensuing cold, all I could focus on was one step after another. Polepole like on Kilimanjaro Certainly all I could see was a few feet in front of me anyway. The struggle to press on and not give up (and call a taxi to the next town–if not I knew more Spanish!) reminded me of super uncomfortable moments and how they are the ones which sometimes teach us the most.
Walking into town once the sun emerged!
It is only day 2 so I am very optimistic that the trip shall continue to be even more fabulous–though hopefully with less rain. Once Rick and I got settled in our hostel–top bunks, yay!–we ventured into town in search of rain gear and hot sauce. Success in both categories! Karen, Monika and Mary are in a neighboring hostel because apparently us 5 together is too overwhelming! Or, because some hostels have rules that groups of more than 3 cannot stay together! Either way, onward we continue!
For now, it’s music time so as to drown out the choir of snores. Ah, hostels!
Thanks for reading!!
The last six weeks have been challenging, to say the least.
From the moment the KLM plane flew over frozen lakes and snow-capped treetops, to the overwhelmingly expansive supermarket aisles, it became clear that an interesting journey lay ahead of my sun-soaked self.
Just north of Newark Airport
Remnants of the terrible winter the northeast experienced!
Culture shock has taken up residence, making a daily appearance as I walk around the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, quieted by the change in my perspective. The pace and pulse of NYC exhaust though thrill me as I (attempt to) settle back into life here.
An empty street
View of lower Manhattan from the Manhattan Bridge, taken during a sunset walk home.
A slightly different view from my commute in Tanzania
Sunset whilst walking home in Tanzania
Many questions have arisen about my next steps: “Where will you work?”, “Where will you live?”, and the most common: “You’re not leaving again, right?!” A handful of caring friends have even made efforts to set me up with would-be suitors. Never a dull moment! FYI these are all fantastic questions I hope to answer soon, so stay tuned!*
Indeed it is most daunting to approach my future and the reality that this is the first time since 2009 that I have arrived in the US with no definitive plan to return to Tanzania for more than a visit. That said, it is quite exciting!
The ending of one chapter and subsequent beginning of a new one usually bring much reflection, so for this reason I am especially grateful for my upcoming pilgrimage: On May 18, I am flying to Spain for a three week journey along The Way, or El Camino de la Compostela. You can read more about it here!!.
Thousands have made this journey over the years. As I join these throngs, I anticipate continued adventures! Likewise I am hopeful that I’ll retain some of the Spanish I’ve been attempting to learn so that I don’t confuse those around me with my French/Kiswahili brain! Twendeni mes amigos, er, something like that!!
*Though I am no longer in Tanzania, I am still managing Journeys of Solutions’ Child Sponsorship Progam, and would be happy to answer any questions about JOS’ work!! Likewise, can answer questions about Tanzania Education Corp’s continued work in/around Karatu and/or direct you to TEC’s on the ground team!
I have learned recently (and subsequently apologized to those around me, asking for patience): when given more than one option, I have difficulty making a decision.
I didn’t realize how bad this was until I recently entered a food court at the Cape Town international airport. Though I certainly haven’t starved whilst in Karatu (echoes of “Mama Afrika” ring in my ears), options sometimes were limited. Simply, most times when eating in town, the majority of items listed on the menu were not available. I grew not annoyed (admittedly it took a handful of repeat circumstances to break me) but rather understood limitations. I even appreciated them for when presented with the facts you are left with two easy options: you either take it, or leave it! So, when seeing a smoothie place, cafe with fresh baked bread, loads and loads of delicious salads and hearing espresso machines’ whistles, I was stopped dead in my tracks…
Thirty minutes, a cigarette break (for my travel companion Charlotte), and lots of mind juggling on my behalf later, we were seated, drinking and eating. Note: I would have included photos but I was too dumbfounded and overwhelmed to do anything but stare and deliberate over how to proceed.
Needless to say, my subsequent visits to some super markets left me immobile. Thankfully Charlotte was behind me, pushing me along. Without her, I’d likely still be standing in front of some Milo cereal boxes.
It has been one week since the bittersweet farewell at Tumaini. For those of you who know me well, you know it’s a rare moment that I actually have no words. The afternoon at school last Friday was one such rare occasion.
As I walked the familiar route to school, I wondered if my footprints were firmer in the red clay due to the weight of emotions I was experiencing. Note: in walking home I remember little of the journey so didn’t check. Upon arriving to school I was unable to actually say “Good bye,” rather I opted for a simple “See you,” selfishly trying to mentally concoct circumstances that might bring me back to Karatu very soon. FYI I’m still searching…
Shortly following lunch, and a few tearful hugs, the farewell ceremony began upon the beautiful multipurpose court. With dear friend Tom and the lovely Caroline and Angela by my side, we listened as the students shared poems, songs and dances. A special thanks to dear friends Annie and Susan for joining the festivities!! After the beautiful displays and heartfelt words, I was thankfully able to share some words of gratitude without tears (but boy did they come later!!)!
I was dressed in a beautiful khanga with printed words saying “Your kindness/love is forever treasured,” adorned with beautiful jewelry and received a stunning Ujamaa carving. The outpouring of love still keeps me speechless as I re-look at pictures and recall the many moments I’ve shared at Tumaini. As if the afternoon wasn’t fantastic enough, I was blessed to share tea with Tumaini’s principal Mr Allan and his wonderful wife, Janeth. Mr Jimmy joined the fun as we chatted with the newlyweds!
Here are some more glimpses of some of the warmest hospitality I’ve ever experienced…
After the ceremony the upper primary students enjoyed sodas and lollipops while the pre primary peanuts received lollipops. We did “Cheers” before enjoying sips of soda–I think I did about 600 of them!!
Following sodas, the photo opps began!! Felt like I was on the red carpet…suppose for all intensive purposes I was, well upon a red clay carpet!!
Though I’ve known the decision for quite some time now, it is still hard to fully process its magnitude: Simply, tomorrow (Friday 21 Feb) will be my last day in Karatu, Tanzania, for an undetermined length of time. Tanzania has been a huge part of my life–most of my 20’s actually, so clearly leaving here brings many mixed emotions. I know I’m ready to leave though bidding adieu and saying my goodbye’s have brought many emotions, specifically since this is the first time I will be leaving Tanzania without a specific return date in mind! The fact that I will be departing nearly 6 years to the day from when I first arrived to climb Kili seems especially bittersweet. Additionally, having dear friend and fellow ’08 Kili climber, Tom Stevens, with me has brought much comfort. Tom spent a month here last year and was able to attend the beautiful water well naming ceremony at Tumaini. Likewise he’s a huge supporter of the work here in Tanzania and such a fantastic friend. He’s also been resident photographer so I’m especially grateful for that, as I’m usually behind the camera snapping the shots, rather than in them!
Over the last few weeks I have, almost daily, answered questions about my departure and have found that only one answer suffices: “Mimi, sijui nitarudi, lakini Mungu Anajua.” (I do not know when I will come back but God knows.) While I have learned so very many, many things during my tenure here, one of the most refreshing lessons I’ve learned is just how little we can control. Note: by “just how little” I mean, “NOTHING. We can control nothing!” Also, “refreshing” can be used lightly in some cases, as at times this fact has proven quite challenging!! Having been an event planner in NYC for several years kept me looking forward, sometimes 12 months out in order to make all necessary arrangements long before actual events. Living over here in Tanzania has really shown me how to live in the NOW and truly be present, appreciating every moment for what it is, rather than looking towards later, tomorrow, next month, next year etc. I believe I’ve shared this in the past, but just to drive this point home, please humor me. When saying “See you later” to friends at home, I may mean later that day, in a few months, in a few years…But when saying it here, I’ve found that it is understood that I mean later that same day. Further if I mean anything beyond today, I must say “Tutaonana Mungu Akipenda”–We will see each other if/when God wishes. So true.
Anyway, I will continue my volunteer work with Journeys of Solutions so stay tuned for updates regarding the phenomenal children supported through JOS. As for my work with Tanzania Education Corp, TEC has just welcomed a great team of 2 to continue its meaningful work in Karatu. To that end, you can subscribe to TEC’s new blog to stay up to date with glimpses from life at Tumaini. And of course, check out Facebook pages for both JOS and TEC.
Thank you for your unending and immense support…Hope you enjoy these (and others coming) farewell photos with glimpses of some of the extraordinarily beautiful souls I have come to know as dear friends.
Visiting some Maasai friends who draped us in beautiful beaded bracelets, necklaces and earrings! One of TEC’s sponsored children comes from this village
Perusing the mamas’ work–most of which they proceeded to drape upon us!
Tom showing some photos to one of the children
Special Goat Roast celebration/farewell at Shalom
Enjoying girl time
One of the newest Shalom children sponsored to attend Tumaini, Samwel
These two were babies when I first stayed at Shalom in 2009!
Headed out to Alalailei Village inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Along the way we weren’t alone on the road!!
After enjoying delicious food and chai, Tom and I were presented with lovely beadwork. So too did I receive a load of items for my mom. The unending generosity was overwhelming.
REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD!! After a full few days of farewells, Tom finally made it to Tumaini where he promptly settled in with Mr Jimmy!
Tomorrow is a farewell bash at Tumaini so stay tuned for additional photos soon!!
Tanzania Education Corp (TEC) has just received a gift from an anonymous donor of up to $25,000 for 1:1 matching funds to support the completion of the permanent library and computer lab spaces at Tumaini Junior School!
With a total of $50,000 Tumaini can complete Phase 1 of the building, which includes the installation of the roof, walls, windows and doors on the new academic building’s fourth floor. In doing so, the school shall continue to educate the future leaders of Tanzania and maintain its stellar reputation for providing quality education.*
To give right now, you can donate online, otherwise you may send your check made out to “Tanzania Education Corp” with “Roof Match” in the memo to Carol Hall, 6 Norfolk Rd., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. All donations are 100% tax deductible and naming opportunities are available!!
We are ecstatic to continue our meaningful work at Tumaini and hope you shall join us!! For additional details about the challenge, please see TEC’s most recent newsletter below and/or email me: email@example.com.
*TUMAINI’S SUCCESS: In 2013, Tumaini placed 1st among 96 primary schools in the Karatu district and 40th out of 15,656 primary schools in the nation.
Attention San Francisco and Rochester-area dwellers! There are three exciting events coming soon, each providing opportunities to see glimpses of life at Tumaini Junior School! Further you’ll also have the chance to join us, Journeys of Solutions and Tanzania Education Corporation, through supporting the meaningful work we do.
DOCUMENTARY PREMIERES IN SAN FRANCISCO
Thursday, October 10 7PM
Studio One (CA 128), BECA Department, SFSU
1600 Holloway Ave.
San Francisco CA 94132
Remember the group of dedicated SF State students who visited Tumaini in June? Well, they’ve finished their documentaries about Mr Bayo and Tumaini and Mrs Bayo and Lake Eyasi Girls Vocational Centre. The students will premiere each documentary next week so stop on by and say Jambo!
Thursday, October 10 7PM
6750 County Road 32
Canandaigua, NY 14424
Come hear about Tom’s monthlong stay in Karatu this past February. His hard work included installing a playground at Tumaini alongside local workers, painting a beautiful mural with the help of Tumaini staff and students, and assisting in the library and computer lab!
JOURNEYS OF SOLUTIONS EVENT
Saturday, October 19 7-10PM
35 Washington Street
Tickets are $25 when purchased on the JOS website or $30 at the door.
Come learn more about the handful of JOS projects around the world. Maureen McGuire, WROC News Channel 8 Anchor is the MC!
Can’t attend?! Worry not my friends! Visit the website to make a donation to one (or all!) of JOS’ projects!
QUESTIONS?! Please email me for contact info/additional details for above events!!
firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
Some highlights from Saturday’s graduation ceremony…stay tuned for more updates and photos this week!!
My view of the ceremony, just moments before addressing the crowd in Kiswahili!
Ten years ago, as I sat in the back of my parents’ car driving through Chinatown, hundreds of thoughts raced through my head; we were headed for my first dorm room at New York University. The sights and smells, some more distinct than others, invaded my senses.
Once moved in several hours later, cinder block walls stared back at me as I heard the hustle and bustle of New York City outside my freshman dorm room window. I had been selected to take part in Project Outreach, a weeklong program which brought students face to face with service project opportunities in/around “campus”, i.e the streets of NYC. Many life changing experiences were had during my years with Outreach, first as a participant then a team leader and site coordinator.
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with the newest Outreachers, members of NYU’s class of 2017, telling them how my Outreach experience shaped my life’s path–and continues to do so in fact! I was ecstatic to share the podium with two great friends and past Outreachers, Rishi and Betty. As we spoke with the students, we couldn’t help remembering sitting in their seats ten years ago. Little did we know the journeys that lay ahead. In addition to attending ALL of our classes …
Rishi is now an ER doc at a top NYC hospital and plans to do Doctors Without Boarders. During his tenure at NYU he remained heavily involved with community service, often as President or Chair of various clubs/initiatives. He implemented countless wonderful projects around NYC and even spent time abroad doing medical missions! I now know where I’m going should I need any ER help, whether in NYC or beyond!
Whilst still at NYU Betty biked across America through Bike and Build, stopping along the way to build homes for Habitat for Humanity. She spent time doing Americorps before heading to Antarctica to work as a carpenter (does she really need a reason?!). A Masters from Columbia’s SIPA Program followed and now she works for Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), dealing with top corporations around the world and helping them to make more environmentally responsible decisions. Walmart is one such recipient of her expertise! It should also be said that Betty still volunteers at the Go Project, a tutoring program on Saturday mornings she first visited as an Outreacher. For a place as transient as NYC, Betty certainly maintains her roots!
I believe most of you know my story, so just for fun: I remained heavily involved with various organizations whilst at NYU and helped to create a chapter of LiNK, a Human Rights club focused on educating people about the human rights violations North Koreans suffer. I volunteered, interned and eventually worked at the American Cancer Society which brought me to Tanzania to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in 2008 as an extreme fundraiser. Before leaving Tz, I visited and fell in love with Shalom Orphanage Centre in Karatu. Then, I applied for and was rejected from a great grad school program due to my inexperience with international development. Rather than bask in my failure (which I did for several days!), I moved back to Tanzania in 2009 where I created a Child Sponsorship Program through Journeys of Solutions so Shalom children could attend an English school, Tumaini. All the while I worked as an event planner/project manager for a fabulous company, i.e. Design Events Inc. My bosses’ generosity allowed me to travel to Tz for months at a time so long as I returned each January to work! Now, four years later, I work for TEC at Tumaini, and continue to see to it that children have access to education. Cannot believe five of the initial JOS kids we enrolled in 2009 are graduating in two weeks! Five from TEC’s program will also graduate! They’ll be high schoolers come January! Needless to say, I’m hoping all these adventures might actually qualify me for grad school…eventually…
Other Outreachers have gone around the world serving people–from Teach for America to Peace Corps, and beyond! Can’t wait to see where these students will go!!
Dream big, kids!! Go Outreach!!
LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES?! Check out http://www.volunteermatch.org or email me and I’d be happy to give you other suggestions, including contact info for Rishi/Betty!
Check out TEC’s most recent newsletter! Note: If you’d like to receive TEC’s e-newsletter, please email me! (Elizabeth@tanzania-schools.org)
Celebrate Good Times C’mon!
Well I am most happy to report I am mosquito-bite free thanks to Para’Kito!! Definitely recommend this to my fellow friends adored by Mosquitos!! See my previous post for more details on the product!
In other recent news, days have continued to be busy at Tumaini! For starters, the school now bakes bread…delicious bread!! Here’s the wonderful Julius with a fresh loaf!! Stay tuned for updates as preparations are made to sell the bread in the coming weeks!
Six Tumaini students were recently selected to represent Karatu at the district level sports competition. Here are several students–four of whom are sponsored–at a volleyball practice with other Karatu district-level representatives!
Most recently, two students have advanced to Dar es Salaam where they are competing as Arusha region representatives! Tumaini staff and students excitedly await their (we hope, victorious) return!
Finally, the sports court is coming closer to being user friendly! Games of netball, volleyball and basketball are on the horizon!
Mosquitos Be Gone!!
It seems keeping mosquitos at bay has been a theme for the past few posts…first it was the amazing students in Geneseo, NY who provided mosquito nets for all beds at Tumaini Junior School and Shalom Orphanage Centre. Now, it’s PARA’KITO! Given the rains we’ve had, I suppose it’s only natural to be especially concerned with staying malaria and itch free!
This weekend, Arusha saw its annual Karibu Fair, which brings tour companies, lodges and the like together for a weekend-long networking event. Having never been in Tanzania during this time of year, it was my first time attending.
I enjoyed perusing around the grounds and was delighted to happen upon the Para’Kito tent. What initially drew my eye was the evident environment-friendly marketing tools. The packaging screams “I AM GREEN” as did the brochures and other printed materials.
Anyway, the two gents manning this tent were displaying mosquito repellent wristbands/anklets as well as clips. The bands’ repellent pellet is made up of 7 oils and DEET free. They each last for 15 days and create somewhat of a force field (my word, not theirs!) which repels the mosquitos. There are a variety of colors for each band/clip though sadly, due to our afternoon visit, most of the fun colors (read BRIGHT and FABULOUS) were sold out. I settled on a black one, reminding myself of the Karatu dust. Speaking of which, good thing they’re 100% waterproof, made of neoprene.
While Para’Kito has a big presence in various Europeans countries and Australia, they’re not too well known in Tanzania…yet! As I sit at my desk after just being bitten by several mosquitos, I’ve now placed my bracelet on and haven’t received any more bites. You can read more about the product details here.
Enjoy friends and stay tuned for updates over the next 15 days…malaria no more, I hope 🙂
The second term is in full swing! We are busy with joint-school examinations, sports practices and preparing the computer lab for the arrival of recently donated laptop computers!
Speaking of laptops: if you find yourself in or near Canandaigua, NY this weekend, join volunteer Tom Stevens at his house for a TECHNOLOGY FOR TUMAINI night. You’ll hear stories of Tom’s time at Tumaini earlier this year, have the opportunity to donate a laptop or funds for educational DVDs and even sample some Tanzanian dishes!
Anyway, the holiday month of April also proved busy! Thanks to two Geneseo Central High School students, every bed at Tumaini and nearby Shalom Orphanage Centre was given a brand new mosquito net! The two students, Rebecca and Sara, fundraised for this project as part of an ecology class project. Given that we are in the rainy season, the nets are especially vital! Read more about their project here.
Finally, kudos to Tumaini’s Standard VII students (and their hard-working teachers) : in the most recent joint exams with a neighboring primary school, 9 of the top 10 students came from Tumaini and 18 of the top 20!
First of all friends, my apologies for the posting delay–I’ve been experiencing some more than special Internet issues! Anyway! On to better things…
The last day of tuition (tutoring) is tomorrow and school will be closed for the final two weeks of April. Where did the first trimester to? . . .
Well, rather than sitting by and wondering, we’ve been hard at work with a fun and exciting task: organizing our library so that students can easily find the books of their choice! To do this, we elected three FANTASTIC children to be Tumaini’s very first Library Prefects! Friends, meet Agusto, Vivian and Yusufu!
Over the last two weeks these three rock stars have helped to inventory our books and assist in re-shelving them, alphabetically of course! Their excitement is contagious and their initial shyness has subsided in the wake of their curiosity about everything from “Are fairies really real?!” to “What happened to the Titanic?” Indeed what fun it has been for all of us!!
There is no friend as loyal as a book-Ernest Hemingway
We’ve had wonderful success in the Serengeti! We saw baby leopards and lions climbing in trees, herds of elephants, a journey (or five!!) of giraffes, hippos and countless others! Likewise, the students have shared some awesome bonding moments! Photos and more updates coming once we’re back in an area with better reception.
Each of the teachers and myself has had a chance to ride with the student groups whether in the morning or afternoon game drives. Simply, there are few dull or quiet moments. Laughter and Kiswahili/English slang fly throughout the day and into the late evening. Even after lights out, whispers of spelling corrections (the children are writing Kiswahili-English notes) and details about their respective home lives can be heard.
We have just departed the Serengeti and are en route to the Ngorongoro Crater where we will complete our game drive adventures. Before driving back to Karatu, we will also stop at a Maasai village (check earlier posts for details about this village ).
While the past several days have certainly been enjoyable for all, the students are really looking forward to their home stays*! Now that each group has had the opportunity to get to know one another and they all seem more comfortable, Tumaini students will introduce their Gould counterparts to life in Tanzania…first hand! *Home stays will be Tuesday and Wednesday nights!
Parents/Friends of Gould students: please also visit the TEC Facebook page for photo updates. Much more to come in the next few days!
Thanks for reading!
Did you know that “Serengeti” comes from “Siringet”–the Maasai word for “Endless Plains”??
Valentine and Daniel enjoying Jay’s guitar skills! … We’ve all enjoyed them too! Last night, in fact, he had the students singing along to No Woman No Cry
Can you find the baby leopard??
Sara, Juliana, Dillon and Whycliff enjoying the Serengeti!
Car Photo!! Haji, Daniel, Hunter and Freddy! Dillon, Jake and Whycliff were busy taking
First group shot in the Serengeti!!