Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jan. 5th, 2010

“Anyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college education. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree. All you need is a heart full of hope and a soul generated by love.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today started with the clanging town bells at 5:30 and 6:00 AM, which was actually a great thing because Kayli and I took off for a walk around the village to see the sunrise, which was unsuccessful because of the clouds. But the walk was absolutely amazing. The calmness of the village was something I haven’t taken the time to experience before and greeting people with our new learned KiHehe greeting, “Kamwene.” One of the random things that struck me were how often we encountered lone shoes lying in the middle of the pathways.

We then enjoyed breakfast of oatmeal with bananas and sugar and craisins, courtesy of Marcia. Our first official morning meeting was brought to order by Ben, as Edward had to take his wife to the hospital in Iringa, and all of our thoughts and prayers are with them. We then wrote out some of our skills and interests as well as three goals for the trip, which we categorized and stuck to the wall to remind us daily. We then brainstormed 15 characteristics of an effective team and Mohammed laid out the list of important people in the village.

The rest of the morning was spent touring the village and meeting the people we would be working alongside. First we met Seth, whose wife Sophia, had a baby girl last night in the clinic. We found out that this is his fourth daughter and he would get to bring them home this evening. We went to meet the town chair person, but he wasn’t in, so we headed to the clinic instead. There we met Dr. Godlove and the dentist (whose name I didn’t catch), who so graciously took time out of their busy patient schedule to explain to us the work they have been doing in Pommern. We learned the top 10 diseases, some of the mother and baby services they provide, HIV/AIDS and oral hygiene education, and vaccinations available. One of the things that struck me was that he said that often people walk more than 10 kms to come to the clinic because of the extra services, like the laboratory.

We then headed to Pommern Secondary School to meet the headmaster, Shadrach, who explained the complicated school system to us, which was actually very enlightening. He then brought us to tea in the staff lounge where we were introduced to all the teachers and staff members. Not all spoke English very well, but talking to them about how they got here was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had here so far. We took a short tour to see the computer lab and the headmaster’s house, which will be one of our group’s work projects.

Kayli and I then headed to the clinic to see if we could help out with the CTC, which is the care treatment clinic for those living with HIV and AIDS. The clinic was just finishing up, but we did take a couple of women’s weights. Then it was back to the mission house for a wonderful lunch of eggs and chips prepared by Mama Toni, which is also when we were introduced to Marcia’s hand singing!

We then had a break until 3:00 PM, where we all sat on the porch reading. There were so many sounds around me, including: the roll of thunder in the distance, the sawing and banging of the carpenters next door, the lilting KiSwahili from the patients waiting outside the clinic, the crowing of the roosters, the blowing of the wind through the trees, the sloshing of Mohammed washing his baby (named “Van”), the rattling of passing bikes, the bleating of the lone goat in the field, the ringing of Mama Toni’s cell phone, and her hearty laugh and singing as she struggled to carry some heavy wood to the house. I was surrounded by noise yet once again everything felt peaceful.

3:00 PM was our Kihehe and Kiswahili lesson with professor Mohammed. He was a great teacher, very patient when we asked him to repeat words over and over again and often indulging us with random phrases we wanted to know how to say. We then continued our walk around the village which included seeing the Catholic church, Kayli and Jennie playing soccer with some local boys, Marcia doing some crazy dances with some young children (who just laughed and laughed…), and touring the pub and the bus stop.

The evening was full of Phase 10 in which we practiced our Kiswahili numbers and a delicious chicken dinner, which was saw Mama Toni pluck earlier. We were joined by the headmaster for dinner and were pleasantly surprised when we were brought a small generator for a couple hours power.

Everyone is really looking forward to starting work tomorrow and can’t wait to see what the next three weeks brings!

-Danielle C.