Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Journal by: Eitan Straisfeld

The group began our last day in Pommern with a bit of an overcast sky. It was a day of lasts; last dinners, last laundrys, goodbyes – saying farewell to our home of the last three weeks. We all headed down to the school around nine and took some pictures of the signpost at the front. After that we went to our various classes. Ryan went to meet Kayoke while Mimi and Eric went to go teach English to the Form 4’s with Wyngred. The Mexicans went off to teach Spanish to a full class of about 40 teachers and I went off to help in the biology/chemistry class.

We all met up again at tea and then Carlos and Garza went with some students to check out a nearby river that the students used as kind of a hangout off school grounds. Myself, Mimi, Ryan and Eric, at various points, made our way back to the mission house as the students were all busy with exams, so there were few teaching opportunities.

After lunch we met with some women who were selling baskets in front of the mission house. They were nice handicrafts and Mimi and Eric honed their bargaining skills (they discovered the trick – bring a few small bills and a lot of big ones – at worst, you’ll get another basket in trade).

At four we went back to the school as the teachers wanted to officially say goodbye to us - either that or just make sure we were leaving ; ) Before the meeting, Mimi and Eric managed to do another interview for the video they’re preparing for Global Volunteers and afterwards we all congregated in the teachers’ lounge. Margaret and the Bursar of the school made some very nice speeches and then we each stood up and gave our thanks for the experiences we’ve accumulated over the last three weeks. The teachers have been great – incorporating us into their lessons in a welcoming manner, which could not have been easy with all the exams taking place. We took some more pictures with the teachers and then headed back up to the mission house to potentially meet with a very big potato (the Lutheran bishop - one of twenty in Tanzania).

The bishop arrived a little after 5 and we sat down and introduced ourselves and discussed the water project and our experiences in Pommern. He’s a very educated and well-travelled man and it was a pleasure to meet with him. We walked down to the platform so that he could get a better sense of the progress of the water project and he actually jumped in the trench to see how deep it was – once in, he was satisfied that it’s depth was sufficient to prevent the pipe from being cut by farmers ploughing their fields.

We all sat down for our last dinner from Nessia (Mama Tony) and enjoyed a little early illumination from the generator – that’s what happens when the big potato comes over.

As evening rolled around, we had our final end-of-day meeting and Edward said that tomorrow would be a relaxed day and we should aim for leaving at around 1pm. Again, words like ‘last’ and ‘final’ came into the conversation – words that at best were bittersweet and brought home the knowledge that our time here was at a close. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we have seen the ‘real’ Africa – we’ve lived it and stood shoulder to shoulder with the people who call this place home. It’s an experience I’m sure we’ll all look back on warmly.


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