To the ends of the earth…and back!

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Still Speechless

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…

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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!!

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enjoying sticky hand shakes and high fives–why just eat a lollipop when you can run it on your hands…and mine?!?!
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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!!

Standard VII Class
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Teachers

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Clinton, tz’s future president!20140228-185538.jpg

Tumaini’s fantastic nurse Victoria
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After enjoying tea with Mr Allan, Janeth and Mr Jimmy
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Until we meet again…

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.

Caroline, Angela and TEC founder Carol Hall being introduced to Tumaini
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New Uniforms!

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Visiting some Maasai friends who draped us in beautiful beaded bracelets, necklaces and earrings! One of TEC’s sponsored children comes from this village

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Perusing the mamas’ work–most of which they proceeded to drape upon us!

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Tom showing some photos to one of the children

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Special Goat Roast celebration/farewell at Shalom

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Tom joining the football game
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Enjoying girl time

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One of the newest Shalom children sponsored to attend Tumaini, Samwel

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Dance Party!!

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These two were babies when I first stayed at Shalom in 2009!

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Headed out to Alalailei Village inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Along the way we weren’t alone on the road!!

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Six Tumaini students come from this beautiful village–and here is the gorgeous matriarch
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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.

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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!

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Tomorrow is a farewell bash at Tumaini so stay tuned for additional photos soon!!

Celebrate Giving Tuesday with Tanzania Education Corp to help match a $25,000 gift!

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!

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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: elizabeth@tanzania-schools.org.


*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.

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DATES TO SAVE!!

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

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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!

VOLUNTEER TOM STEVENS SHARES HIS VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE
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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!

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JOURNEYS OF SOLUTIONS EVENT
Saturday, October 19 7-10PM
Rochester Pillars
35 Washington Street
Rochester, NY
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!

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QUESTIONS?! Please email me for contact info/additional details for above events!!
elizabeth@tanzania-schools.org OR orphanageprojects@journeysofsolutions.org

Graduation Day Preview

Some highlights from Saturday’s graduation ceremony…stay tuned for more updates and photos this week!!

GRADUATES!
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Teacher Appreciation
My view of the ceremony, just moments before addressing the crowd in Kiswahili!

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Was it something I said?!
Just kidding! No, I didn’t clear the grounds of the celebrations…guests and students departed after lunch!
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NYU Flashback // Community Service

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Photo credit: the fabulous Betty Cremmins

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!

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Outreach shirts through the years!

TEC’s Summer Newsletter and Water Well Dedication photos

Friends,

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)

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More photos of the Water Well Dedication on February 21,2013
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Planting Trees
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Switch is On20130706-102430.jpg

Celebrate Good Times C’mon!

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Mom with Mr Bayo and Lightness, who are sporting newly-printed Tumaini Junior School hats20130706-102624.jpg

Second Term Fun!

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! 20130623-234804.jpg

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!
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Shortly following this practice, the six students traveled to Arusha for additional competitions! Here is one medal-laden student, Margaret, after her return from Arusha!
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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!

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Mosquitos Be Gone

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.

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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 🙂

Mosquito nets, laptops and more!!

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.

20130516-115552.jpgStore owners, Lucy and Willie, where we purchased the nets!

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Mosquito nets being hung!20130516-122017.jpg

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In other news:
Tumaini now has a new walkway…
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The computer lab has a brand new window! Thank you Sara and Brett Shifrin and Gould Academy!
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And we now have new (and very much needed) music equipment! Thank you David and Marta Hall for your donation!
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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!