Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wednesday, 28 January 2009 – Saturday, 31 January 2009

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work” Mark Twain

We got an early start from Pommern. Edward came by to give us all a big hug, and he wasn’t exaggerating. We said sad farewells to him, Mama Tony, and Lemda and took off in the van for Iringa Town. Once there, we did a little shopping, ate lunch at Lulu’s (great milkshakes but bad hamburgers!) and left for the Ruaha Hilltop Lodge. We made record time and arrived about 4 o’clock. After settling in to our bungalows and trying out the hot water, we lounged in the lodge overlook until dinner. Dinner was delicious, lots of fresh bread, meat and a banana dessert.

Wednesday morning we were off early on safari. Mary, Joe, Don and I had one vehicle and Sharon, Matt, Joana, Erin and Ha were in the other, which promptly broke down and had to be replaced with one without an open roof. While we waited for them at the park entrance we saw a lot of storks, crocodiles and hippos.

Finally, all together again, we entered the park and began our adventure. We saw a great number of animals and got some terrific photos of the ordinary and the extraordinary. After lunch we switched vehicles so the other group could enjoy the thrill of standing up to see the animals from a less restricted vantage point.

We returned to the lodge in the late afternoon and again relaxed until dinner. The food was superb and the banana “talt” was especially good.

Thursday morning we had a leisurely breakfast and returned to Iringa Town. We did more shopping in the afternoon and Sharon, Ha and Mary had an adventure while in pursuit of a beer. They met an old lady whose daughter brought them to entertain her. They were led back to the Guest House by some neighborhood boys and overall had quite and exciting time.

Friday morning we left very early, even by Mzungu time, and drove to Dar. Near Morogoro Mohamed had a difference of opinion with a traffic policeman. We were escorted several miles into town to police headquarters, only half joking about spending some time in a Tanzanian jail. Mohamed was vindicated that we had the correct registration for the vehicle and we were allowed to continue the trip. [The young policemen thought that our van should have the white license plate of a commercial vehicle instead of the orange license plate of a private vehicle.

We arrived in Dar to heavy rush hour traffic and eventually got to the Slipway. Our farewell dinner with Haran and Mohamed was both sad and celebratory. We all took turns summing up our stay and thanking Haran, Mohamed and the people of Pommern for our wonderful experience. This has truly been an exceptional team, with all members liking and respecting each other. We go our separate ways: Matt off to Ghana early Saturday, Erin, also off for home Saturday morning, via South Africa. Ha, Sharon Don and I are out Saturday afternoon. Joana will leave Sunday and Joe and Mary will go on another safari and leave for home next Thursday or Friday. Judy and Dave are probably finishing their safari and heading home now, too. What a great group it was!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do.” Mark Twain

Much to all our dismay, yesterday was our last full day here in Pommern. In the morning, Sharon, Ha and I went to the Kindergarten. We sang songs, reviewed numbers and practiced flashcards. Then Sharon went to teach English while Ha and I were human jungle gyms for the kids outside. From there I headed to the clinic with the intention of assisting with the outreach clinic. It hadn’t started yet, so I went inside and met Dr. Godlove, Mary and Joana. Dr. Godlove said we weren’t doing the outreach program that day. I stayed with them and we saw quite a few patients.

Matt and Joe continued digging the foundation, which wasn’t quite enough, for the kitchen at the Secondary School.

Don taught chemistry in the morning and joined Mickey in the computer center entering the Form VI grades into the computer. In the afternoon, Mickey met with Mama Lenny, probably for the last sewing lesson on the electric sewing machine. Joana met her friend at the Internet café, who gave her a beautiful trio of baskets as a parting gift.

We all had dinner at the secondary school which was wonderful because we all got to say our Thank Yous and Goodbyes. Mary gave Dr. Godlove a big hug and there may have been some moist eyes.

After our feast, Matt, Joana, Ha and I met up with our friends Charles, Ezra, Malaki, and Richard to give them the cards we had made for them. It was a nice evening, but very hard to say goodbye to the people who have been our “family” for the past couple of weeks. I know we will never forget them.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday, 26 January 2009

“What is this juice and all this joy?” Gerard M Hopkins

What a great weekend we had. Saturday was the Form VI graduation. I felt like I was truly there for my relatives. Ezra and Malaki both did not have family present so Matt and I fought the paparazzi to get pictures of them while they were receiving their diplomas. I stood on a metal chair and took pictures of Charles, Ezra, Malaki, Tina, Irene, Harry, and Rashid receiving their diplomas.

During the graduation ceremony, there was dancing, singing, dramas, and of course, speeches. The two little boys, Ibrahim and Yasef, that helped us move bricks were there. They sure do love to dance.

After the awards were given out, there was food and drink for the graduates and invited guests. There was also a bit of dancing. Matt had a chance to put some of what he learned in African dance class in Massachusetts to use in Africa! Matt and I danced until the end, even through the sprinkles.

Yesterday morning, Joe, Mary, and Joana went to the Catholic Mass. Don, Mickey, Matt, and I went to the Lutheran Service. It was a full house. Sharon gave a wonderful sermon in English that Pastor Sagga translated into Swahili for the congregation.

After the service, Matt went for a run and I did a bit of Yoga with Ezra and Malaki. Later Mary, Joana, Erin, Matt, and Charles joined us. Charles showed us some of his karate moves too.

At 1p.m. we headed over to Edward’s house. His daughter Kinte graduated Saturday and he invited us over to celebrate with his family. Mama Kinte cooked a delicious meal consisting of rice, pork, greens, plantains – both fried and boiled – and chapatti. There was also soda, pineapple, and mango.

Edward had a surprise for us after lunch. He had obtained a glass of homebrew and a glass of bamboo juice for us to smell and look at. Some of the brave even tasted the two by dipping their fingers in them.

Edward then took Sharon, Mary, Joe, Mickey, and Don for a walk around Pommern. It turns out that Pommern is bigger than we thought.

Erin, Matt, Joana, and I went to the waterfalls with Charles and company. It was nice to spend time with them and a good day to be outside.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday, 23 January 2009

“Anyone who has not made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Albert Einstein

Yesterday, after a breakfast of porridge, French Toast, and bananas, Haran had a summation meeting because Dave and Judy will be leaving early today. Haran was surprisingly awake considering he didn’t get to bed until 2:00 a.m. due to his work in Iringa Town. Edward visited us and invited us to his house on Sunday to celebrate his daughter’s graduation from the Pommern Secondary School.

Judy, Mary, and Joana worked at the clinic. The work was as difficult as pulling teeth – which was what they did. Erin, Matt, Dave, and Joe continued their construction work. They moved bricks, cleaned, and painted. Dave coached soccer in the late afternoon. Ha worked in the kindergarten in the morning and spent some time at the clinic in the afternoon. Sharon worked at the kindergarten and taught seminarians.

After lunch all but Mickey and I went with Mama Toni to observe a funeral. Unfortunately, it was over before they walked very far. Mickey typed a gazillion grades into the computer in the morning and worked with Mama Lenny in the afternoon with the sewing class. I taught four form IV chemistry students how to balance equations. After tea, I helped a student named Christopher learn how to type on the computer. He improved from 1 word per minute to 4 wpm. In the afternoon, I fixed the EXCEL programs that Mickey was typing to have the proper formats. This is the first time the grades were put on the computer. Next year they can copy the programs and put in new names and grades. I then prepared for my last meeting with the Form III chemistry students.

After dinner we had Mama Toni and Mohamed take group pictures of us out on the front steps. After the generator died prematurely (surprise), we said our fond farewells to Dave and Judy. They left at 6:02 a.m. Obviously, they were not on African time!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday, 22 January 2009

“You gotta play the hand that’s dealt ya” —The Chief
Mary Kernan

Yesterday we woke up all proud to be Americans, after watching the inauguration of our 44th President, Barak Obama.

Ha had left her notebook at the neighboring village clinic so she and Joana had Mohamed drive them there and then walked home. Don helped type the Form V roster into the computer. Mickey continued to type the exams. Erin and Sharon went to the kindergarten, Sharon was asked to give English lessons to some Seminarians.

Judy and Mary had another eventful day at the clinic. They shared their worm story during lunch (we had noodles). Everyday they come with new tales. The wrecking crew of Dave, Matt and I actually got to start building the new kitchen. It will take 45 days to complete. We agreed that digging the foundation was much more difficult than previous days.

Judy and Erin were out for a walk and saw a vervet monkey. It was our first animal in Pommern. They also met 4 people from Sweden. We invited them to the Mission House after dinner. They were impressed with our luxurious running water, flush toilets, lights (sometimes!). Home sweet home!

Joe (Union Steward of the work crew!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

“Do what you can – your impact may be much greater than you can imagine.”
Judy Garshelis

Yesterday was a good day, all in all.

At the secondary school the Jerusalem dorm came down.
Maybe that was symbolic and a little profound.
Bet ten years is all that a building can stand,
So we tore it down with a few tools and our hands.

In the computer lab the printer and mice were cleaned for the first time,
And now they seem to work again, pretty much just fine.

The graduation (“leaving “) certificates were examined and organized,
But could it be that 75% weren’t really registered? – Surprise!

Down at the K-school, kids ate porridge and sang row-row your boat.
They didn’t know what a boat was, but nobody spoke.

At the clinic there was a beaten woman and a student with a panic attack,
Also an apparent case of malaria – the symptoms were fever, headache and a pain in the back.

The outreach clinic gave kids a dewormer and vitamin A;
Their mothers, meanwhile, got meds to keep births at bay.

While here in East Africa we did our small bit to help moms, dads, boys, and girls,
Across the globe, a progeny of E. Africa took an oath to lead the free world.

And thanks to Haran, the kind gentleman,
We watched it on CNN from Pommern.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday, 19 January 2009

“The people I love the best jump into work head first without dallying in the shallows and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.” Sharon Bronsted

On Saturday, the secondary school had a number of religious ceremonies. There were ceremonies for each of the religious groups. The Catholics had their ceremony early in the morning, the Lutherans later, as well as the Moslems. All the ceremonies were very active with lots of songs and dances.

Yesterday was a wonderfully relaxing day. In the morning several of us went to religious services. Don, Mickey, Matt, Dave, Judy and Sharon went to the Lutheran service. They saw Haran and Mama Toni there…who arrive late! Haran had them all introduce themselves to the congregation.

I went to the Catholic Mass with Joe and Mary. The singing and dancing was wonderful. The Italian priest, Father Paolo, said mass in Kiswahili – impressive.

After we returned from the religious services, all of us – except Matt who wasn’t feeling well – got ready to go for our walk with Charles, and Salome. We went to the secondary school and met John and Irene who also went with us. We walked for about a mile and arrived at an area with three little waterfalls. It was very nice. Dave did some yoga while the rest of us chatted. We got in a group picture and were mad at Matt for not coming.

At about 5 o’clock the football (soccer) match between form V and Form VI was underway with Dave as the referee. From the start Form V with their red jerseys and pre-game huddle, was looking more organized than Form VI. The crowd would sometimes hit/harass the linesman when it didn’t agree with the call the linesman made. They were wasting their energy though because Dave didn’t necessarily pay attention to the linesman. The players were very respectful of Dave’s decisions and Dave was respectful that the game is played a little different here.

Matt, Joana, and I talked with our new friends Charles, Ezra, and Malaki during the game. Perhaps we will join them for movie night next Friday at the secondary school. But today Ezra and Maliki will show me how to use their cell phones to get on the Internet as I am low tech.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday, 16 January 2009

“Wait to worry” Joe Kernan

Yesterday, after a great report from Judy, this is a hard act to follow. The day starts following breakfast and all of us getting ready for our assignments, which are same as yesterday. The Demo Brick Crew reported with their same dirty clothes as worn before. Judy and I met with Dr. Godlove. We found out he is raising 7 children – 3 of his own and 4 whose parents have died. First we made hospital rounds and next the out patient clinic. There were a couple of interesting cases, which included plyergia (a vitamin deficiency). Also there were babies with fevers bundled up in winter coats and hats. Most interesting was the industrial accident with a severe laceration of the right great toe very near the rail bed. Judy and I thought for a few moments that we were going to have to suture! Fortunately, Dr. Godlove appeared and sutured the nail to itself. It was an excellent job, done in a very dark room. Then Dr. Godlove left, taking the vaccines to a neighborhood village. The gas had run out on the refrigerator where the vaccines were stored.

Judy, one of the nurses named Lulu, and I were left to run the clinic. We saw eight patients. After the clinic, we went to the Young Child Immunization Clinic. As soon as a couple of the young children saw Judy’s white coat, they started crying loudly. I am smart! My lab coat has smiley faces on it. We saw 28 kids from 6 months to 6 years old. Next in the O.B. clinic there were 4 ladies. We were busy for four and a half hours.

In the afternoon, Judy and I visited the Demo Brick Crew, which was now joined by Joana. They are taking down a building previously built by GVers. They are taking it down brick by brick. I am glad it is not by me! Joana joined the crew after working in the morning with Sharon at the kindergarten. So now, Ha, who the guys are calling Hawk, won’t be the only women on the crew. Don taught the chemistry teacher a new method of balancing redox reactions. The students were a little slow. Mickey and Erin did their presentations in English class. Afterwards they had a chance to tour the teacher’s (Edward’s) house. It was an up scale house for Pommern. After lunch Ha (Hawk), Judy, and Joana went with Mama Toni to see a lady about getting skirts made from material that they bought here. Judy got lost and had to ask for help to get home. Erin witnessed a chicken feet up with feathers on in a pot of hot water in the store. Matt learned from Edward that he (Matt) cannot get married here in Pommern because he does not have 3 cows, 3 goats, 2 blankets, and 2 sheets for the dowry.

The evening ended well with a lively discussion with Edward about customs.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday, 15 January 2009

An old Chinese proverb says – you can move a kitchen, one brick at a time, but it will go faster if you have a good wheelbarrow. Dave Garshelis

Yesterday we had pancakes, porridge, bananas, bread and butter or jelly and coffee or tea for breakfast. After breakfast, we went to our assigned jobs. Mary and I went to the clinic. Dr. Godlove wasn’t there yet. The staff were washing the floors because a patient died in the hospital the night before. Mary I I gave boxes of gloves, tongue blades, otoscope, masks, hand sanitizer to the clinic staff. They were very appreciative.

Dr. Godlove arrived around 9:30 a.m. We made hospital rounds with him and saw a patient with shingles, another with hypertension, a young man with abdominal pains. Afterwards, we saw patients in the outpatient clinic. We saw an 11-month with vomiting for a day, a woman with T.B. who came for her meds, an elderly man with insomnia, etc.

We went back to the Mission House at 12:30 p.m. Turk, Matt, Ha, and Joe knocked down a kitchen wall the secondary school in the morning. The first tool to try to knock it down was a stick until it broke. Jo played and sang with students in kindergarten. Erin and Mickey observed an English class at the secondary school. Don typed our journal as no one was in the chemistry class. Mickey later taught some student and the instructed how to an electric sewing machine that they had brought here. Sharon learned about the needs of Tanzania people and the pastor by talking to the pastor and walking around.

We had spaghetti and sauce, potatoes, bread for lunch.

After lunch, Mary, Joana, and I walked through the village and tock pictures, talked with local people and bought a few items. Sharon and Don were done for the day, so Sharon painted with watercolor and Don worked on chemistry lessons. Erin and Mickey went back to secondary school, went over lesson plans. The four demolition workers went back to work. Turk felt some frustration because he felt they could get a lot done but there wasn’t enough tools such as hammers and a wheelbarrow, etc.

At 4:20 p.m., Turk coached some secondary students in soccer. There were cows grazing next to the soccer filed. The students were eager to learn and did everything Turk said. The choir showed up and had practice near the field. They sang and danced. It was amazing! By the end of practice there were at least 20 kids on the field.

Two older students, ages 30 and 36, came over to Sharon and I and talked to us. Practice ended a little after 6 p.m.

After dinner, we had our meeting with Haran and he announced that they were going to purchase a wheelbarrow and other tools for the kitchen demolition and rebuilding project. We got our work assignments for tomorrow. The day ended with everyone in an “upbeat” mood.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” Clifton Fadiman

Yesterday was a very busy day. We began with our morning meeting. We wrote our goals and the characteristics of an effective team.

Next, we went to the clinic where Dr. Godlove showed us the equipment and rooms. Judy and Mary had lots of questions and seem eager to get to work.

We went to the Secondary School where we met Aidan, the acting headmaster, and Edward the school counselor. They took us on a tour of the school, classrooms, dormitories, kitchen and health clinic. We ended in the faculty room where Edward explained the school system and answered questions. We walked back to the Mission House by way of the soccer field.

After lunch, Mohamed gave us a Kiswahili lesson. He gave us some basic phrases and numbers and translated some necessary phrases like elephant poop.

Our next foray took us to the kindergarten building and met some people learning English. We then went to the primary school where we met with Barabas, the headmaster. He answered more questions about the school system and welcomed us to his school.

We walked across half of Pommern to the Catholic Church, greeting people along the way with intrepid volunteers trying out their new Kiswahili phrases. At the Catholic Church we saw the Kindergarten, an Internet outpost and the nursery where they grow seedling for reforestation. Joana met a girl her own age and they were instant friends.

On the way back to the Mission House it started to rain so we hurried home. Haran had given us a good tour of the village and helpful information about places to buy snacks and drinks.
After dinner we got our work assignments. Joana will go to the kindergarten; Erin and I will work in the English department at the secondary school. Judy and Mary will be at the clinic, Don will teach chemistry with Reuben at the secondary school. Ha, Hoe, Dave and Matt will demolish the kitchen at the secondary school. Sharon will work with Pastor Sagga.

It was a very eventful day.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

“Well, there were no black mambos, but I am going to mambo back” Matt Lampasona

Morning came at 10 to 7 on my clock that had been set months ago at home – so we must have 11 or 12 hours of difference in time. After the group of Swedes ate, it was our turn to have French toast and a round pancake like ball – with honey and various local jams.

We headed for our “business affairs” – signing up for the Safari, Internet connections, and the marked for our food for the week. Our first stop was at the Hasty Tasty Too – where we ordered our lunch for 1 p.m. After dodging rain drops at the market while we bought flip-flops, cloth, coconuts, bug spray and other fun essentials. We ate our Hasty Tasty lunch and great milkshakes and headed out for Pommern around 4 p.m. We were all anxious to get to Pommern and see where we would be working.

The trip to Pommern was lovely through lush forests and farms. The homes and fields on this country road were so much better than those we saw in the low lands.

Tra-Tra we arrived at our dorm house and each got our rooms except Joe and Mary who are going around from room to room to keep us company. Here we are staying in a big, thick walled, high ceilinged German missionary parsonage built in the ’30s or ‘40s

And here we are ready to go in this fascinating community.