Friday, January 8, 2010

Jan. 8th, 2010

Be the change you wish to see.” –Gandhi

Today is day 8 and Jennie’s 20th birthday! We woke up to a beautiful handmade birthday sign for the birthday girl courtesy of Mama Macia. After a breakfast of porridge, bananas and pancakes (!!) we made our way to our projects.

Danielle and Kayli spent the day at the clinic. Some of the highlights include a 5 month pregnant woman whom they examined with a fetal stethoscope. An infected circumcision and many HIV tests made up the rest of the day. They are hoping one of Dr. Godlove’s patients, who is 9 mo. Pregnant will have her baby soon and they may observe the birth.

Mama Marcia began her day before the rest of us by teaching an 8:00 AM class on how to tell time. Marcia clearly has such a passion for teaching and we all admired her creativity in constructing card board clocks for the students to practice with.

Greg, Jennie, Ben and I made our way down to the headmaster’s house. Where we continued our construction. We removed (or ‘deconstructed’ according to one of the teachers) the second window and used the headers as a base for steps.

Theo, a form 5 student, was our constant coworker and supervisor. Our work at the headmaster’s house has been more of a mental and personal challenge for me than a physical one (though I am no without a few bruises and sore muscles!) I am accustomed to a day regimented by tasks and schedules. Success is determined by tangible results. I find myself attempting to apply my work ethics and thoughts of now things should be done on our work here. Thank you to Greg for reminding me that we are not solely here to make a house habitable. Hopefully this lesson learned will force me to take a step back in the future when I encounter something that runs counter to my thoughts and sensibilities and allow me to observe and learn the Tanzanian way.

Edward arrived from Iringa this afternoon and we were glad to greet him and were thankful to hear his wife is improving and is expected to return thome in the next couple of days. With Edward’s return I feel like our family is once again complete. Edward gave us a tour of bamboo juice (the locally brewed alcohol) collection sites and much of the rest of Pommern. We observed and sniffed a sample of the local moonshine in “the disco” and checked out a handful of shops selling cloth, bia (beer), soda and other staples.

After a supper of rise, beans, and beef we celebrated Jennie’s 20th with a delicious cake made by Mama Toni! We have been so impressed with Mama Toni’s culinary talents thus far and she certainly out-did herself tonight with an amazing cake cooked over a charcoal stove!

With Edward’s return to our dinner table, our conversation was once again full of laughter and enlightenment. One of the most interesting insights into Tanzanian culture was through Edward’s explanation of marriage and premarital relations. Expectations and consequences are so different that mainstream US views. I certainly admire the way Tanzanian’s view unplanned pregnancies as a problem and damage to the family rather that sole responsibility of the woman.

After dinner, we drifted away to our books, personal time or arctic showers J. I am looking forward to the experiences and lessons that tomorrow will surely bring.