Jennifer Ferris: Getting into the swing of things in Tanzania

Regina, Jenny and Lucy
Things here have been very full on. Only 3 days after I arrived, I attended a wedding for one of our security guards, so that was very interesting – it was in a Maasai village. Next there was a family gathering for another worker – our farm manager, and very sadly last week one of the house mothers who lived on the project, suddenly died. She had been sick and was seeing the doctor for a few rounds of tests, but none of that indicated her life was in danger. So I have also been to her funeral service here in Arusha, and then I drove down to attend her burial in Tanga (on the coast). We were told it was a 5 hour trip, and left so as to have about 2 hours spare, but we found out it was a seven and half hour trip. It was very long, hot and stressful, driving down there are some roads were OK, but some roads had pot holes ranging from what we would consider medium (I don’t think I saw a small one) to enormous – one was almost two feet deep. One of the things here is the courtesy extended to everyone. The family knew we were coming so waited for us to arrive before beginning the ceremony.

So apart from being very busy and being here at an emotional time, everything here is really good. I have great accommodation, with a very large room to myself with a large desk, comfy chair, and a comfortable bed. The “village” where the volunteers live has very good security. We are fully enclosed in a high solid fence topped with electric wire, and we have Askari/guards day and night. There is a bit less freedom than I thought regarding walking around town. I guess it is like any city, there are areas that it is not safe to walk around in and then there are some other areas that you have to be extra careful but you can go there alone. I don’t get to town all that much. I didn’t realise that the village where I am is quite a way from town. I had thought it was just an outer suburb, but it really is a village with a very very rough dirt road from town, that takes about 20 mins in the car. A good road would halve that.

Where I work in the Kesho Leo school is a 15 min walk from home, and I do that at least once every day and sometimes twice. Basically I have to walk everywhere when I stay in the local area so I am doing plenty of walking. I am finding that I like working with the little children a lot more than I expected. I am especially happy to be working with the teachers, Regina and Lucy. They are lovely teachers. The children at Kesho Leo Chekechea come from both the local community, and the families living in the project. They all have beautiful smiling faces, and are so happy and generally well behaved. I feel that I am in the right place to help the school, and also in the future I will get involved with the local primary school, but that is for next year.

The “mamas” who live at Kesho Leo are all very nice. Part of their agreement to be there is to help in the Pre-School, so there is a roster for two mamas to be at the school every day. They do it on a monthly roster which I think is sensible so that they can be involved for a long time and understand what the teachers are doing. I learned the mamas’ names first, and also the teachers, but learning all their children – twenty in total, plus learning the names of the 43 children in pre-school will take me much longer. Added to that is learning Kiswahili. I am on my way, but with so many things bombarding my memory, I am allowing myself the luxury of not trying to learn too much Kiswahili all at once.

I have another PALMS volunteer here working up the road – about 15 mins, at a local school called Edmund Rice. She has been here since the end of January and is showing me a few things. So all in all, life is great.

Regards,

Jenny

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Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. - Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe