Thursday, October 30, 2014

Spice and everything nice - almost

Music teacher explaining the recording they are about to hear

After an insomniatic night listening to howling dogs, rooters that didn't know it was the middle of the night and the footsteps of the security guard on the gravel below, I was wondering if I was going to be able to make it through a whole day. My driver Zawadi (Gill's recommendation) picked me up promptly at 9:30 to drive to Good Hope. He is a pleasant man, with a wide permanent smile and kind eyes and gladly shares about his life on the drive in. As he maneuvered the rocky, makeshift roads I asked him if he got alot of flat tires. "No" he grinned, "not since I got new tires". He dropped me by the bank machine on the way in and reluctantly took the 10,000 Tanzanian shillings I offered. "Too much Lyn. But thank you very much". (It wasn't too much!)

Today was a teaching day -- too, to, two; fast, faster, fastest; past and present tenses. I showed them pictures of fairies, knights and unicorns as promised from the day before. We discussed vocabulary, They told me words they wanted to know and/or how to spell... clever, intimidating, eager, beaver (I can explain)... I noticed Julius sitting clearly off to the side, head hung with what looked to me an angry expression. I kept trying to draw him in and get him to participate but he just shook his head.
During the first break I asked him if he was okay and he didn't respond. I asked him if he was mad and I put my hand on his shoulder. He looked up at me and said, "teacher, I am not mad - I am sad. I am sad because my sister is dead".  I was dumbstruck and immediately felt foolish for the grief I had given him in class. She had passed away just two days prior. I told him I was so sorry for his loss and pain -- that I knew it must be very hard for him and his family. He simply said that it was and "thank you teacher for your kindness".

Jill sent me with three skipping ropes and I didn't make it inside without them being plucked. The giggles erupted immediately and the biggest kid of all was Oliver, Good Hope's director. I finally had to scold her into sharing with the kids.  :)

The kids at Good Hope had worked with a music teacher to record a rap song and on this day, they heard it for the first time. The music teacher had Julius stand at the front of the class to perform the rap portion of the song for his classmates. He was incredible. I was blown away by his ability to do that being as shy as he is - not to mention the loss he had just suffered.

Gill and I took Oliver and Nelson, the local teacher to a local spot for a platter of beans, rice, meat and greens and banana and water melon. It only cost us 2,000 TZS each ($1.40 CAD). I couldn't finish all of the food on the platter and I felt ashamed at the waste.

Zawadi was uncharacteristically late picking us up --- he had a flat tire! I jinxed him!

Dinner with our housemates at an authentic ? Thai restaurant was delicious - hot spicy ginger beef -m eaten in the open Tanzanian air with interesting people - doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Day of Surprises

We were too excited for any jet lag to show. We donned our modest clothing - Jill in a skirt and me in my MC Hammer baggy Kili pants (or should I say pantaloons) - and went downstairs to greet the day. We followed the sound of playful chatter to the outdoor dining area where a small group were congregated, partaking in the coffee, tea and toast and eggs. We were somewhat tentative - a little shy, not knowing the lay of the land  or the routine. Arriving in a new place in the middle of the night robs you of your bearings - but nothing that isn't solved by a day of wandering and exploring.

Pleasant surprise! While Jill and I were talking in the hallway, a door opened and Spela appeared - a woman from Slovenia and fellow volunteer from  last year. We all cheered exclaiming the coincidence and good fortune. It did seem somewhat serendipitous!

Had a full day at Good Hope; about ten familiar faces and many new ones including some wonderful young local teachers - Nelson, Scholar and Yvone. Sadly (for me ) there have been changes and only one (Oliver) of the three original founding mamas remain. I did have another surreal but wonderful experience and that was meeting my new virtual friend Gill in the flesh at long last. And from first glance, she was a familiar friend.

On my first day I mostly observed... a few things had changed in the Tanzania I remembered : a few new pigs crated out back, a new materials room, and new faces. But some things are exactly the same... little Rosie (toddler) roaming the yard; the concrete classroom and well worn blackboard; the spark of hope and resilience  the eyes and on the faces of the kids; and the great need and desire for education.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Safety Net

Snuggled under the mosquito net

Stepped off the plane into the hot moist air that is Moshi. Jill and I paused on the tarmac, taking it all in, a little overcome with sheer excitement and disbelief at our good fortune to be back on Tanzania soil.

We had the smiles and good wishes of friendly faces to greet us and drive us to our bed and breakfast. With the power outage all over the neighborhood - not an unusual occurrence - finding our accommodation was not easy.

We unpacked by candlelight and solar lanterns until the lights came back on and then snuggled under our mosquito nets, drifting to sleep to the chorus of barking dogs and the muffled voices beneath our window.

Familiarity is a comfort all its own and every bit a safety net as the one I am sleeping under.

Friday, October 24, 2014


"We are all getting so excited to see you next week. Just wanted to officially say welcome."
Yup - we're going back to Tanzania. In just a few days Jill and I will once again be shrouded in the hot humid air of Moshi with the taste of burnt dust on our lips. And our hearts will open wide.

Tanzania is like that; it opens its arms and cradles you; invites and welcomes you; changes you.

I struggled with my motive to return. I wasn't so naive to think that I was really needed, that life in Moshi wouldn't go on without me. I considered how better spent my airfare could be - the impact of $1200 on the tiny informal organization of Good Hope. I even thought how exciting it would be to use that money to bring someone from Good Hope here to Canada. Jill announced she was going back to reconnect with her mamas at the women's empowerment group of Mkombozi. We talked it over; debated the reasons to go - and not go. And in the end we couldn't resist.

Good Hope doesn't need me. But I need Good Hope. I'm going back for a heart-full.

So thank you Gill for your kind words. We're almost on our way and I can't wait to meet you. I only hope you live up to your virtual Skype version.