Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Coming To An End

Everyone seemed refreshed after a good night's sleep. Musa came in early and built a fire. Mama Tony had fruit, porridge, pancakes, and toast.

Stefan went to the clinic; and Sue, Kassidy, Stephen, and I went to the construction site. The children from the kindergarten greeted us enthusiastically, and Kassidy was able to have several Marahabba moments. I stayed a short time so that I could get ready to go to the school to meet with Margaret, one of the teachers. (I had enjoyed visiting Msungu's Form I English class yesterday.) However, I was informed when I arrived at the school that Margaret had gone to town for the day. I returned to the mission house and started entering the team journal into my computer. As I reached the mission house, I saw Sue and Musa carrying long pieces of wood/logs to the construction site. Arriving there about an hour later I saw that scaffolding was in place so that the Tanzanian masons could work high on the walls. (I don't think there is workman's comp here.)

It is always important to report on lunch. Today it was chapati, cabbage, beans, potatoes and yams, and oranges. A colorful meal. Stefan's report from the clinic was sad - a baby had died during the night.

The construction crew, inncluding Stefan, returned and reported on what will be the work on Thursday. Sue, Stefan, and I walked to the school to take pictures. What and whom should we see on the road coming from the school? The GV van and Mohamed. We greeted him. Then we walked on to the school and happened to meet Bethsheba. She accompanied us to the new kitchen and told us about the serving routine.

We saw students coming into the school area carrying suitcases (sometimes on their heads), boxes, and bags. Stefan suggested that they had arrived on the bus whose horn we had heard a little while ago. We saw one girl run up to an arriving trio and give one of the girls a hug. An international demonstration of delight. Bethsheba found Imelda who joined us with her enigmatic smile. The two girls allowed us to take pictures of them.

Back at the mission house we saw Kassidy and Stephen who had returned from their pipi shopping expedition with bargain candy. Kassidy then went to the school with Edward.She had a good, extensive (many topics) 1/2 hour conversation with two 19-year-old girls. We had a delicious dinner- again. Edward joined us to talk, and he welcomed back Mohamed. Mama Tony also joined us. She was very appreciative when Sue and Stefan sang a song to her which highlighted her wonderful qualities. Edward announced that we would finish our assignments around nine-thirty tomorrow. We could then clean up and finish packing and say good-bye to new friends. He told Mama Tony that lunch would be at noon (Mzungu time) and that we would leave at 12:30. After dinner each of us received an award from Kassidy who got one from Stephen. Five rounds of UNO, and Stephen remains the champion. Then reading and packing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Work Work Work

After a quick and hardy breakfast, we were off to the construction site once again.

Stephen and Kassidy were masons, and Amma was carrying bricks and buckets of mud. Afi was at the clinic & Sonja down at the school. We met up for lunch & chowed down on pizza, pineapple, & pasta. Back to work but this time it was all 5 of us. Carrying bricks & buckets of mud while Stephen & Kassidy were doing the mason stuff once again. We ended our day of work. Some did shopping, others read.

After we ate some delicious dinner it was time for Uno! Kassidy didn't play, she tried calling home. Then at 8 everyone split off to do their own things like going for a few drinks, having a sleepover, or just sitting by the fire. The day ended wonderfully.

Monday, July 9, 2012

All Together

Back to the work week morning schedule with breakfast at 7:30 with the message and journal review of the weekend by Sue.

For the first time, our team of 5 all worked on the same project, building a new office room at the Lutheran church. We had a team of 13 people and laid brick walls using locally produced red clay bricks held in place by "mud" made from the same ubiquitous red Pomerini clay. As the day progressed, all the links in the chain were in synchrony. Some muscles were rejuvenated by rest and a few sunshowers.

The evening meal of chicken ande rice was followed by a 4 game set of Uno with Stephen the reigning champion! CHEERS

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Birthday Chicken

Happy Birthday, Stefan!
It was a chilly, overcast morning, but Mama Tony's breakfast of porridge, pancakes, bread, and fruit prepared us for the day. Kassidy was happy that Mama Tony had more hot chocolate mix in her larder. The reading of the journal reminded us that yesterday had been another good day. Edward asked us to review the goals we had set on the first day, and Kassidy and Stephen read them for us. There was general agreement as each one was read. Edward commented that he thought there was 90% completion. Then we split up for our assignments. Kassidy, Sue, and Stephen stayed at the mission house to sweep, wash, and whitewash the lower wall on three sides. The results are great, and they/we hope the following teams appreciate the work. Elizabeth, Melissa, and Greg walked toward the school where they met with the children. The activities varied from recap, to dancing (the hokey-pokey led by Greg. Good on your resume?), to board work with math problems, to computer work, to farewell gifts and good byes. All this in three hours. Stefan and I went to the clinic where we waited - and waited for the HIV/AIDS clinic to open. Edward peeked in the window and said he didn't want us to get bored. He took us to the area where trees were being cut down and boards were formed. Items will be made for the church. The clinic finally opened. Stefan helped with notations, and I pulled files, reviewing the numbers as Mama Petra read them. The filing system worked beautifully! For lunch we had pasta with eggplant sauce and doughnuts. After lunch Stefan and I went back to the clinic, and the others - after a break - went to the garden and prepared the area by making mounds, working in the ashes, and marking the rows for the seeds. Kassidy sorted seeds, and the others put them into the ground under Edward's direction. Then we all walked through the cornfields to the home of the oldest woman in the village. She and her daughter graciously us into their home. Edward told us a little about her life then and now. We brought them a greeting and expressed our thanks for their hospitality.

When we returned to the mission house, some of the children came for a game of Frisbee with Elizabeth, Melissa, and Kassidy. Greg and Stephen joined their Tanzanian friends and were treated to a demonstration of intricate hair preparation. I had an interview/conversation with Pastor Jane of the Lutheran church. The rest of the group went to observe and listen to the choir. In the evening we celebrated Stefan's birthday the Tanzanian way (a roast chicken with a candle) and the American way (a cake with a candle). Edward spoke to the departing three (Elizabeth, Melissa, and Greg), thanking them for their contributions to the program, and each of us expressed personal greetings. In the morning I will report on who was present top bid them farewell.

Another day awaits all of us. What will it bring?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Teaching, Working and Celebrating

We started the day with breakfast. Edward was missed since he had to attend to business in Iringa.

After breakfast most of the group - Sue, Stephen, Greg and Kassidy - took the 7 km drive to the water containment facility. Stefan to the clinic and Elizabeth, Sonja and I to continue our computer lesson for the young students.

When we returned, we found the water team warming by the fire. It was not until later in the day that we found out the water group did not actually do any work since there was only one shovel. This secret was hesitantly revealed by each worker to the rest of the group.

In the classroom our well prepared lesson plan was executed to completion. Sonja was a great teacher to the little ones. Everything went smoothly until we left the computer lab. The kids were excited and a photoshoot with dancing closed the school day.

After lunch we had the afternoon off and walked to the Catholic church where we ran into Batista, one of the students who is a true academic. Several of us walked around. Others used the Internet. At one point we met a young boy who claimed to be 18 named Deus. He gave us a tour of the most modern buildings in Pommern. Deus was very knowledgeable and took command as he explained the function of each building.

Shortly after returning to the mission house and passing the white pig, the basket ladies arrived. As they approached balancing their products on their heads we all covertly took pictures from behind the pillars on the porch. The baskets were beautiful and sevewral purchases were made.

The rest of the afternoon was leisurely. Some went to the pub, others read. Kassidy started another creative project.

Edward arrived shortly after dinner and told us his day had been challenging but successful. At dinner we celebrated Independance Day in this foreign land with stories of past Fourth of July experiences.

Following dinner, Edward gave us a history lesson about Tanzania, which included the settling of the Bantu and Hamitic people. He also told us about the Arab, German and British occupations and the Tanzania union in 1961.

The rest of the evening was spent preparing a lesson plan for class, taking pictures, watching Greg do the Hokey Pokey and laughing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hard Days Work

Another typical day at the mission house.

Edward arrived to join us for breakfast and review our daily assignments. We then proceeded to head to work. Greg & Stephen to move the school's kitchen & dig trenches. Stefan, Sue, Sonja & Kassidy to organize the clinic's record. Melissa & I to teach 8-12 year olds.

After lunch, we continued with our respective jobs and/or gardening.

After work, we all explored the village. Sonja & Kassidy visited the girl's dorms. Melissa & I wandered through the village escorted by one of our students (Joshua), who also acted as our body guard telling other kids to bug off. Greg & Stephen continued to support the local economy at their favorite watering hole. Sonja chatted in Italian with the "Italian girl". Kassidy purchased a pocketbook. Some folks ate freshly picked carrots. A frisbee was rescued from a rooftop. Mohamed (Mr. Fix it) worked on electrical problems & prepared to battle a bee hive. Moses appeared in a rain poncho & twirled around for us. We had very fine meals, a special visit by Haran and ended the day with our usual laughter. Just another typical day at the mission.

Tomorrow: Edward continues to find the dirtiest jobs for Stephen & Greg (dredging the water source).

Monday, July 2, 2012

Working With What You Have

Our day began with breakfast at 7:30 followed by the reading of the journal and daily message. After a quick overview of our day we all went to our assignments - Sue, Greg and Steve are going to the clinic, Sonja, Elizabeth and Stephen to teach and Kassidy and I to construction.

We have been told to be flexible and have witnessed the people of Pommern demonstrate this behavior in our daily activities so it was no surprise when Sue, Steve and Greg came out to the construction site to help. No one was at the clinic to get their baby weighed so they spent part of the morning preparing the kitchen then to construction.

Kassidy and I were following Musa and Darius digging a trench and piling bricks against the schoolhouse in preparation for the patio. There were some moments when the instructions were not clear but we managed to figure it out. At one point Musa was using the hoe to soften the clay so we could shovel it and the handle broke. Musa hammered out the handle from the metal part and went to find a new handle. This was one of many fascinating examples of how people here are inventive and able to find resources.

While Kassidy and I were moving the bricks closer to the classroom the others pitched in. We spent the rest of the morning moving bricks, mixing cement and laying the brick. When we left we saw that a significant amount of progress had been made.

Back at the mission house we had pasta w/cucumber sauce, pizza and fruit for lunch. After lunch Greg and Stephen returned to construction while the rest of us cleared the garden behind the mission house. We weeded, tilled and picked carrots. Tomorrow we will till and continue preparing for planting.

After work we sunshowered and went for walks in Pommern. Stephen and Greg have become regulars at a cafe down the road and spent some time observing and interacting w/the locals. Elizabeth and I explored and tried to familiarize ourselves with the village.

Around 6:30 we all sat for dinner where we shared our days experiences and planned for Wed. Following dinner we had a relaxing evening of conversation around the table.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Back Again

We slept late and met for breakfast at 8:30. After some shopping at the curio shop we said goodbye to the Ruaha Lodge and drove to Iringa Town for a little Internet and grocery shopping. On our way from IT to Pommern we had an unplanned roadside picnic when our truck broke its driveshaft. Another truck picked us up after about an hour and it was smooth driving to Pommern. We arrived in Pommern at about 5 and the group all went for a walk to see the falls which were very pretty. Before dinner we had our daily meeting with Edward, reviewed our weekends and planned our work assignments for Monday. At 9 Stephen, Mohamed, Steve and I went to he community building to watch the Euro 2012 championship game between Italy and Spain and had a great time.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Safari Animals!

After breakfast in the lodge we all met at 8:00 for the Safari Trip. Ruaha National Park was a short trip down the road. We no sooner entered the park when we were seeing elephants feeding at the side of the road. That was the beginning of a full day of almost non-stop wildlife viewing. Alex, our driver from yesterday, was our guide today. He made sure we saw elephants, giraffs, zebras, hippos, crocs, a cheatah family, a leopard, a pack of lions & many, many more animals. The highlight was a showdown with an elephant blocking our way on the road. I think that is the closest anyone of us ever wants to be to an angry wild elephant, and we were very close.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Work, Then Off for the Weekend

We woke at our regular time to meet at 7:00 a.m. for breakfast and our daily meeting with Edward. Some work assignments had changed and Melissa and I learned we would be joining Elizabeth and Stephen on the masonry crew. We spent the morning mixing concrete and coating the walls of a new classroom building. Very hard work but I think Melissa and I did well under the tutelage of our good friend Moses.

Lunch was chicken and chips and then we all prepared for the trip back to Iringa Town and then on to Ruaha Hilltop Lodge for a weekend break and safari.

Steve, Sue, Kassidy, Elizabeth, Melissa, and I joined Alex our driver at 1:00 and said goodby to Stephen and Sonja who were staying in Pommern for the weekend.

We stopped in Iringa Town for an hr. of Internet and left for our vacation destination. The trip had a few hiccups & stressful moments before we got out of Iringa Town.First there was a short 10 minute backtrack to the Internet cafe to rescue a misplaced camera. (Thank goodness the kind staff there was holding it.), and then our Land Rover experienced mechanical difficulties and we had to stop at a repair shop on a back road in town for a little over an hour while Alex & the mechanic repaired it. Once out of town it was a smooth trip where we passed many small villages and people, including many Maasai who are always great to see. I think we would all like to learn more about these fascinating people who we've seen everywhere we've been.

We arrived at Ruaha Lodge at 6:30 to a very warm welcome and we were all thrilled to see the Lodge, our accommodations and particularly the view.

At dinner that night we briefly met our Lodge companions who were a group of young medical students from England & Ireland on break from working in Iringa and German couple on holiday. We were served a delicious dinner and we all retired to enjoy a good night sleep with a cool mountain breeze blowing through the camp.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go

Mama Tony gave us a new  treat for breakfast, dengu, a fritter made of small seeds. Edward joined us and initiated a discussion of the importance of the triangle of IQ, health, and hunger. We each contributed thoughts on these topics, recognizing the role each area plays in the lives of Tanzanians and in the contributions Global Volunteers. Then is was Hi ho Hi ho as off to work we go as seven of us headed top the secondary school for diverse activities and one to the clinic. At lunchtime we reported on accomplishments, frustrations, and joys. We talked while enjoying Mama Tony's Italian lunch - pizza and spaghetti. It was a day with sun and clouds and breeze. Sometimes it was warmer outside than inside. In the afternoon we explored the market - vendors selling a big variety of goods (many w/familiar brands): clothes, shoes, dishes, radios, doughnuts, vegetables. There were food stalls with bowls of something hot. In true market style people encouraged us to look at and to buy their wares. Edward and Mohamed had encouraged us to bargain, but we didn't try. The one purchase was made with Edward's help. Then it was time for walks, conversations, and reading. (p.s. on the market - Edward told us that many vendors come a long distance. We had noticed that there didn't seem to be a display of local products.) As it grew cooler, we were happy to have a fire again. Mama Tony added to our memories of winter evenings with a big bowl of popcorn. Edward asked each of us for comments on the day's work. Tomorrow there will be a couple of switches; the rest of us will finish the week in the same place. Edward said that it would be time for us to start sharing our ideas and suggestions with our Tanzanian colleagues; but we need to be sensitive to differences in approaches to work.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

1st Day of Work

We started off the day with a pancake type thing, banana, and toast. We had a brief morning discussion and then headed off to work. After the long morning of work, we met at the meeting/lunch table for both a meeting and lunch. :) Everyone shared their stories of their work while we ate a tortilla thingy, noodles, meat, and sauce. Mangos were our dessert. (Note to self: Those were the best mangos I have ever had!) Once everyone was done, we chilled outside till we heard the bell ring. [ed. note  We were invited to go to the cemetery for the interment after a funeral.] While some walked one way, others walked a little too far.:) Once there, women and men were separated, and sat on the cement around the graves. While the sun beated down, and our appreciation for every cloud and breeze, we watched and listened to the beautiful melodies of voices. When the service was done we strolled on back to the Mission House. Unless you wanted some "juice or cola" then you went to the pub.  Everyone did their own thing until about 6:25ish. Then a lot of us grabbed a cup of joe and sat by the fire. Chit-chattin like usual! Later we had dinner of rice, beans, greens, citrus fruit, and some fishy soup stuff. We shared stories and had heated conversations like usual. Then off to bed. Which is somewhere around 10, because it's African time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


We began the day with a nourishing breakfast of oatmeal, eggs and toast & the reading of the journal/quote.

Edward led us in setting goals for our time in Pommern. Common themes emerged as wishes were stated & posted on the walls. One was to learn about the culture; another is about being of service - including outside work, working in the clinic & teaching. Another theme was connecting with people.

Next we identified qualities & behaviors we hoped the team would embody. A theme was about exercising a positive attitude, another was taking responsibility for our shared space. Another was respecting individual wants & needs.

We next spent time walking around the village, visiting the school where we spoke with Asst Headmaster Haran about the history (72 to 850 in 35 years). Haran answered many questions. We learned the school is on holiday the first 2 weeks we are here & so our work projects will be working on a new kitchen & class rooms.

Our next stop was the primary school where we learned about the handwashing project & especially about the huge water project recently completed that has water spigots sprouting all over town! The clinic was next where we saw how much they are trying to with very little.

In the afternoon Mohamed coached us on our Swahili & He He local language. He was very patient with our efforts to pronounce & spell our new language.

At 4 p.m. we headed out to the town stores and met many proprietors. We also met the mayor and district leader who welcomed us.

Meanwhile, back at the Mission House (our home) the toilets were repaired and we were pleased to have time to relax & arrange for hot water for showers for the morrow.

All in all a very full and informative day. Tomorrow the labor begins. Today has set the context for our service.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Settling In

After our night's rest at the Lutheran compound we met for breakfast for our first African Dunkin Donut as well as French toast. We were welcomed at the ELCT Diocesan Center and the long history of Global Volunteer's relationship with the Diocese was recalled for us as well as what deeply rooted challenges remain for Tanzania.

After arranging a weekend safari and Internet use we began the journey over rugged terrain and equally rugged roads to reach Pommern in the early afternoon. We met our wonderful cook Mama Tony and had our first meal.

We chose our rooms, settled in, went for walks and began our acclimation to the Mission House a 100+ year old structure which in itself is a miracle.

After dinner we enjoyed a "campfire" experience and began to deepen our relationships. Plumbing problems developed, which were mopped up by Moses our lodge attendant and are able to be solved tomorrow. Also tomorrow, we begin a long orientation process to prepare us for our work with the local citizens of Pommern.

We have been blessed to be with a fabulous mix of backgrounds, ages, and experiences which will, I feel, blend into a memorable experience for all.

We await tomorrow!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Bumpy Ride

7 a.m. breakfast in the dining room near reception so we can be on the road by 7:30 a.m. We only left 15 minutes late - which is practically early by local standards. :)

The day was to be a long drive - approx. 500 km from Dar es Salaam to Iringa, which coud take anywhere from 8-11 hours depending on traffic. Today is Sunday, so luckily traffic for the most part is very light. The only trouble we faced was in the mountains, when we were stuck behind a queue of trucks waiting to pass an overturned vehicle.

The journey was very bumpy - lots of dancing in the bus as we went over each speed hump. Mohamed saw most bumps and slowed, but there were a few that surprised us.

We stopped in Morogoro for lunch, which was a nice buffet of rices, meats and vegetables, as well as a chance to stretch our legs.

Then we saw plenty of animals - impalas, monkeys, baboons, giraffes, zebras and many others.

The last 50 kms were the toughest - we were all tired and looking forward to the end of the journey, as well as some dinner and a cheeky kilimanjaro!

Another lovely meal of rices, meat and vegetables, followed by instructions for the next day.

We also had the opportunity to meet Pastor Sagga who welcomed us to the area and talked passionately about the water project which was completed late last year. We are looking forward to being able to contribute some to Pommern and cannot wait to get there tomorrow.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Welcome to Tanzania

Upon checking into The Slipway Hotel, I met a man who welcomed me to Tanzania. It was Edward, the country leader for Global Volunteers. He must have seen the big yellow Global Volunteers tag on my luggage. What a warm welcome from the start.

At 6 p.m. we all met for introductions and the dinner. We were introduced to Mohamed, the driver and second in charge, and to the 8 volunteers on the trip - Steve, Sue, Kassidy, Stephen, Greg, Melissa, Elizabeth & Sonja. Again we were welcomed. We learnt a little about each other, asked as to why we decided to serve with Global Volunteers. Told that we are going to serve where we are invited and work  side by side under the direction of the local people.  Then we enjoyed dinner at the Waterfront restaurant.

Then came the rules - drink bottled water, don't eat street food, keep valuables in our possession and learn some key words to help us during our time here. Edward has shown himself already to be a grateful host, looking to ensure we have a safe and enjoyable experience here.

After dinner, it was time for us to retire to our rooms and for those that flew in today, a chance to recover from the jet lag.

I chose to take advantage of the free wifi in my room (as I am right next to reception) and clean out my email which I have not been able to check often whilst on safari. Then I watched the first half of the football (Spain vs France) before exhaustion overcame me. Alarm set for 6:30 - now time for bed.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

We Are One

Our final Tuesday in Pommern began as most of them do with porridge, toast, bananas, and a morning meeting with Edward.  Several people headed off shortly after for their final day of teaching at the Pommern Secondary School and at the Roman Catholic Pre-Primary School.  Others went to finish typing exams and a few ventured to help at the clinic with hopes of weighing some African babies.  Shortly after leaving, both groups came back to the Mission House – the doors were locked at the computer lab and there was no work to be done at the clinic (and no babies).

Some went for walks while others enjoyed reading books and reflecting on our time so far in Pommern.  Jacklin and Jen were finally able to have the Father bless their jewelry and rosary.  Lunch was served and we all remembered Ting as we ate the last of his Chinese version of Spam.  After lunch, groups went their different ways – some to type, some to teach, and others just to explore.  Ashleigh P. and I searched and searched for Mama Kinte, Edward’s wife, to invite her for our last supper, but she was nowhere to be found.  Later on, a group walked up to the Quiet Bar and enjoyed beer and Pepsi and spent time together.

After eating dinner, Dr. Elton came to speak to us all about the clinic and the health issues he has seen in Pommern.  We were able to ask many questions and were not stopped even when the generator failed.  As our time as Global Volunteers comes to an end, we are all striving to end it in a positive way while still remembering “We are one.”


Friday, May 25, 2012

Sports Square Off

Friday has never felt so much like a Saturday before; despite it ostensibly being a school day, the students, teachers, and volunteers were more likely to be drawn to the field.  That’s because Pommern Secondary School and three other secondary schools from the surrounding provinces were set to square off in football, volleyball, netball, and other games and occasions.

In typical mzungu fashion, the volunteers arrived at the football pitch with punctuality; in typical African fashion, we were the only ones around. 

Boredom turned to improvisation as the volunteers moved from Sharks & Minnows, Foxes in the Hen House, and an altered version of Death Ball to pass the time.  As the sun climbed its way higher into the sky, more students and teachers began finding their way to the pitch.  Later, minibuses filled with students also arrived simultaneously with great hump-backed cows.

Volunteers found different ways of taking advantage of the atypical day and beautiful weather.  Spectating the well-received football matches was a popular choice, but one not so humorous as paying “Nina dubwana mzungu” with sportingly innocent watotos.  I myself enjoyed documenting this so much that I turned my lens and feet toward the school; I wanted to illustrate to friends back home my routes, offices, and classrooms I’d taught in.  While there, I was quizzed on Obama, Jay-Z’s connections with the Free Masons (hint: there are none), and freestyled & beatboxed the afternoon away.

Friday presented the group and its individual members with special opportunities to expand horizons and immerse deeper into our hosts’ cultures, and we took advantage of it in equally special ways.  African field day was a blast.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Work is Well Worth It!

Today started with quite a spectacular show from the natural world. A pair of Verreaux’s Eagle Owls called to each other for nearly half an hour right outside the mission house. I was able to enjoy a cup of coffee while watching and listening to their show.

After my coffee I began an early day of teaching health and biology with breaks to help organize old exam files in the library. One of the highlights of teaching today wasn’t what happened in class, it was an interaction with a student later in the day. In the afternoon, one of the students who had been in my morning class came up to me on campus and asked me other questions about biology. He was genuinely curious and very interested in finding out more about several different topics – even thought it was not related to the material that we covered today.

While I was answering his questions, a number of other global volunteers finished the mammoth job of organizing exams and files in the reference library. The job involved upwards of 12 volunteers over 2 days, but the organization was well worth it.

After work, a few of us took a walk through town. In some places, we still get celebrity treatment from the children. At various points, kids would run up to greet us with shouts of “Ciao!” or sometimes “PiPi!” Shannon had two new girls run up to her to hold her hands and walk with us for a little ways. They had enormous smiles on their faces the whole time they were with us.

After dinner, a couple of the teachers from the school joined our group for games of cards and Scrabble. While the games happened inside, the search for bushbabies went on outside. Unfortunately for the searchers, the bushbabies seem to start their day LONG after we end ours!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sorting, Sorting, Sorting

Back into the routine today as we all got up for breakfast and headed off to morning assignments.  Since testing was taking place in the primary schools, several of the girls were sent to work at the Roman Catholic Church school, today.  They taught the little ones animals’ names in English and Swahili and then had them draw the animals on paper.  While Ikeizja and Cameo tried to escape being attacked by the little ones, Sarah and Ashleigh helped to make the porridge. 

I took several of the other primary cast aways to the secondary school to help Rachel in the library.  We were all a little surprised to find the library housed all of the testing materials and that the tests were placed around the room in no particular order.  At first, we simply took a couple of piles and sorted through them.  We finished that task and then went off to tea.  We talked about how great it would be if we could go organize the entire room and sort the exams by subject and topic.  Although it would be a big job (we had NO idea how big!!) we thought that the end product would help Rachel stay more organized and save her time when searching for tests in the future.  We started by taking out pile after pile of tests and began to sort them by topic.  Then we had to sort each topic by test, mock exam, pre-exam, pre-national exam, and national exam.  Those tests then needed to be sorted further to separate the national exams by private, school and joint test versions.  What a job!  We stopped for lunch and then recruited some unsuspecting souls to help us in the afternoon.  We made a dent, but have lots to do tomorrow, as well.

We got home and Michael pulled out Haran’s guitar.  He had restrung it and we sat around and sang songs.  We were treated to a song by Edward that we really enjoyed.  After dinner the singing continued outside and we were treated to Dr. Thomas’ and my show tune medleys, as well as a special guest performance by Queens’ own gospel/show choir- it was a great night and I think (most!) of the singing was enjoyed by us and our neighbors.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just Chill

Once again we started off the week with an early breakfast and numerous departures to our various schools and classrooms. After teaching, some of us chose to go to the clinic to weigh babies and help with awareness of young mothers. Once done at the clinic some chose to chill out and read, while others went back to teaching, helped work at the secondary school, or just went for a walk. As the sun went down and the children were told to run back home, Mama Tonny prepared a wonderful meal that helped curb our appetites for the foods we miss from home. Overall it was an easy day for most to just chill and prepare for the week to come.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Weekend Fun

The first work week just flew by as the Global Volunteers all made friends and discoveries.  Thanks to the program staff, we had a full range of activities lined up for the weekend ahead. We kicked off the weekend by spending our Saturday morning planting trees.  Some of us had great interaction with the local kids helping each other with the water pump.  The volunteers also got fairly creative with building the baby tree shelters.  Ikeizjea stacked up a whopping castle and Jackie built a Palm Springs resort for her little tree with pine cones hanging. The increasingly pleasant scent coming off of the group urgently called for the need of laundry.  Hakuna Matata!  Mama Tony came to our timely rescue and patiently taught us how to turn our hands into heavy duty washing machines.  A good number of us were determined to wear each piece a few more times as we struggled to remove the stains from the clothes

After a filling lunch and a couple hours of chilling around the house, the group went out on a hike to a waterfall nearby.  It was a pretty relaxing walk over and some of us got to see downtown Pommern for the first time since we arrived. The water fall isn’t all that big and makes a great chill out spot.  It wasn’t long before people started posing up for all sorts of photos in this scenic destination. 

The early schedule on Sunday didn’t allow us to snooze as much.  We all attended the morning service at the local Lutheran church.  As different as the service may be to the ones we’re more familiar with, the devoutness to God was universal, not to mention the amazing performance put on by the choir.  Right after the service, everyone stood around for the auction.  As quiet as the scene was, all items were successfully sold. At 4:30 we marched to the field for the much anticipated soccer match.  Our dear Coach Allen had already walked us thru the basics of soccer and positions we were going to play.  We were confident that we would lose by only single digit goals.  As we kicked off the match, all mzungus went 100 percent against our half-trying opponents. We did a great job defending against the waves foattacks by the mwalimu team, only to give away a goal on a net-tearing shot after the first 30 minutes.  Our 2-minuted stamina quickly go exposed and we had to sub players in and out to keep up.  Kudos goes especially to the girls for keeping the goal shut with the unyielding backline and also for scoring the last minute goal with the staff team’s generous help.

The weekend fest doesn’t end here. At dinner we found out just how pampered a birthday mzungu can be in Pommern.  Thanks to Jenn, we got to indulge ourselves with two birthday cakes which included a full roasted chicken.  After dinner, we took a short walk in the dark to get a few drinks at the local lounge bar, where we marked completion of an exciting week of venturing out in a foreign land.  It was only when we realized how closely we’ve all bonded as a group.  As another work week lies ahead, I don’t believe anyone is ready to leave just yet.

Christian Allen

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Early Birds

Today, so many people had to leave earlier than expected so very few people were at breakfast.  Although very few had breakfast before they left, they were still able to get hot beverages, hence, why there were only 3 bags of tea left!  After breakfast, we all traveled on our journey to teach our second lesson or a continuation of a lesson.  When we returned we shared all of our experiences.  After eating the wonderful chips mayai, some of us returned to school, others dug holes to help Moses or played games of speed Uno.  Tired from working and playing, a few girls traveled in the invisible jeep mobile around the village while others stayed home and finished off the cooked corn.  After our return, some people took a nap while others viewed the country bus and a choir rehearsal at the church.  My what beautiful voices singing praise!  As they returned home, girls were waiting to play and dance while older girls watched on in amusement.  As dinner time arrived, we ate a wonderful meal and finished off the night playing card games.  As I sat back in amazement at how we were all working and playing together, I can truly say that we have become one. 

-          Ikeizja

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Today was our first day of teaching. I think it went pretty well for most all of us. We all came back with interesting stories about our classroom experiences. Now that our first time is out the way, I feel the rest of our days teaching will only get better. After a wonderful pizza from Mama Tonny for lunch, we practiced soccer trying to enhance our skills for the game on Sunday (Wazungu vs. Tanzanians). Edward has the great advice that if we confuse the other team enough, we can win! We went back to the secondary school after practice to continue mixing concrete. After 70 buckets of sand were filled and carried, and plenty of cement had been mixed, we were proud to say that we no longer have baby hands. After a while, some of us ventured with girls into their world. They were excited to show us their dorms and practice their English with us. We convinced them to teach us all a Swahili song and we, in turn, taught them an American one. We were all laughing, clapping, and dancing with each other. We truly became one with them. We finally came back to the mission house where Michael played instruments with some boys and Ashleigh and Suzanne taught some girls hopscotch, ring around the rosy, follow the leader, and the chicken dance. It was a lot of fun to watch of course we took a lot of picha picha! Over dinner, we closed the night with encouragement from Edward to continue to experience the life of the whole Pommerini community. As we close out the day, I feel that the days to come will bring an understanding of a culture and people we could never get without being here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Setting Goals

After a breakfast of delicious porridge we visited the big potato buildings.  At first, we saw the clinic, which surprised me by how advanced it was.  It had a dentist’s office, delivery room, and Edward said the town even had birth control.  We saw where they weighed babies, which I am quite excited for and I am certain Jacklin is as well.  With five births a month, we might see a newborn while we are here.
 The secondary boarding school had mostly male or science teachers, surprisingly.  I am excited to walk there every day so students will no longer stare at us but will begin greeting us happily.  The children at the primary school and the Lutheran church were adorable, and I can’t wait to spend time with them.  I am nervous about being the only mzungu in a classroom, but I will survive.

 Mama Tony made chips with cheese for lunch which was exactly what I missed.  (And, even if it wasn’t cheese, I pretended it was).  The cucumber soup was delicious as well.  Every day, we have had something new, and it is always good.

 We made some house rules and goals with Edward, then had the jolly Mohamed teach us Kiswahili.  He then led us through the center of town where we were met by cries of “Wuzungu!” and promise of a night in the pub in the future.

  A few of the girls had our first cold shower experience which was actually not as scarring as we might have thought. Although, I think I’ll use a sunshower next time.  Afterwards, some of us played soccer with the watoto or cheered until dinner.  Wonderful, as usual, and we went to sleep with visions of teaching dancing in our heads.


Monday, May 14, 2012

We are Family

While we were in Iringa, we ate breakfast and then walked to the Headquarters of the Global Volunteers Organization to meet with the General Secretary Nayman Chavalla. He made me feel more secure as he told us that we were in safe hands. I enjoyed his enthusiasm and his sense of humor during the meeting. He discussed what Global Volunteers is all about as well as some of the issues plaguing rural areas of Tanzania. As he commented on the suffering that is taking place in Africa, he said “sometimes I wonder if we are children of God.” This statement really hit home for me because of how sad he seemed.

After our meeting we proceeded to shop in Iringa. We all found some interesting finds, but I know Christian is very excited to have his jersey. Most of us also visited the Internet café to send emails to loved ones. It felt good to tell them that I was approaching the final point of our long journey! I think I speak for all of us that we were ready to settle in Pommern.

However, a long and bumpy ride loomed between us in Iringa and our house in Pommern. After lunch we commenced our journey through the mountains. As I was in the sick van, many of its passengers were feeling under the weather. However, I am happy to say that we all worked hard to support each other over all the nauseating bumps. I felt like we were bonding to act as one. For the next few weeks, we are family! I want to say a special thanks to Mohamed for doing all he could to make us as comfortable as possible and for getting us to Pommern safely.

Upon arriving in Pommern, many of he vans passengers took naps. However, as the Jeep passengers arrived, many went outside to play soccer/football with the local children. We all practiced our Swahili with the little ones. It was an awesome first afternoon in the village, and I’m sure we all look forward to what tomorrow holds.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dar Es Salaam and Beyond

On our first full day in Dar Es Salaam we woke up to the gorgeous view of the bay right outside our windows. We ate a quick but filling breakfast and headed out to explore the city.  The previous night we were able to see some of Dar Es Salaam, but seeing it on a busy Saturday afternoon was completely different.  We stopped for lunch at a food court type place and enjoyed Chinese, Indian and American food.  After lunch Edward took us on a walking tour of the city and we were able to literally come face to face with some local people.  For me, the walking tour was the best part of the trip so far.  I was able to look at each person and see a piece of myself or someone I know from home in many faces.  Instead of seeing Tanzanians as on big group, I started to see individual people.  As we continued the walk, we encountered street vendors, a fish market and we learned that pictures cannot be taken of the President’s house.  We made it back to the restaurant just in time to miss the rain an hour or two of bonding time before we left in cabs.  None of us were ready for those taxis.  Everyone quickly learned that road rules are merely suggestions, and it is always best to buckle up.

After dinner that night, Edward welcomed us again and explained that from this point until the end of the trip we are one.  He told us there is no separation and each action should be made as one.  He also told us we will eat as one, which we did by sampling different dishes on the table. After dinner, many of us stayed up to go to the supermarket and talk about the trip so far.

Breakfast at the Slipway Hotel was great with the fried bread being the crowd favorite.  After eating, we waited for the trucks by playing the newly discovered version of Mancala and perfecting “The Stance.” We left the hotel and moved on to the market. As soon as we stepped off the van we were greeted by shopkeepers trying to sell their goods.  Some things were fairly priced, while others required some firm bartering.  Each shop was filled with sculptures, jewelry and art, but thankfully we only had 30 minutes and we couldn’t spend all of our money.  Some people turned out to be better at bartering than others, but everyone left with at least a new story to tell. After the market, we began the LONG journey to Iringa.  Although the trip was tedious, we came up with creative ways to pass the time.  Along the way, we saw plenty of baboons and some animals in the national park.  A little after nightfall, we reached Iringa and had dinner.  We also got to go to the pub and cheer on the Tanzanian football team.  Tomorrow begins the “real” part of our trip, and I can’t wait to see the place I’ll call home for the next two weeks

- Ashleigh

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Frist Day at School

Today was the first day in the schools.  Some of us were at the secondary school and some were at two different primary schools.  At the schools, we mostly observed, marked papers, and got our topics for tomorrow.  The schools had a very different environment than the ones back home.  I know many of us were instantly pulled out of our comfort zones as the language barrier became more real.  The afternoon consisted of working at the secondary school and watching/playing in a futbol match.  Christian, Ting and Lee all played futbol with the secondary team.  They played their hardest, but their skills could not compare to the talent of the students.  While at the futbol game, some stayed behind.  A group of young girls came by the house and participated in a dance party.  At the end of which, Ikeizja taught them the Macarena.  After dinner, everyone prepared for their lessons.  Ideas were passed back and forth and help was offered if needed.  We all hope that our first lessons are a success.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

With only three more whole days left here in pommern (for two pt us) did not sleep well. My dreams reminded me of how much I miss my family and my day reminded me that our time here has been too short and there is still so much I want to do. For example : Become flivent in Swahili , carry objects on my head or witness childbirth at the clinic. Each day has amazing food, great company, glimpse of rain , work and calm . But at the same time each day is so different from the previous. Today began much like the rest we were treated to penciled , jatmeal , banana and toast. I had my pancakes with peanut butter and my jatmeal with a pollop of jam. After breakfast , things took a different turn. Jessica went to the clinic a usual, and reported back w/o too much new excitement at the clinic , she said today was actually a bit slow. Steven and I switched rolls though , Steven played teacher today! It was a geography excerpt! And he felt that he was well received and that the students loved him. They must have ,because he didn’t return until after lunch. Today was an extra treat for me. I got to play plane boards at the mill with the men. It took much longer than I could have ever imagined but it was interesting to see how then men reacted to having a Mzunga women joining them at the mill and it was especially fun bonding with Moses. Was impressed by how well we were able to communicate w/ body language despite an obvious communication barrier. We did accomplish our goal and delivered beautifully planed lumber to be turned into tippy tap pies for tomorrow! Lunch rocked my world. Then Steven spent the afternoon engulfed in a book while Jessica , Edward and myself went to the primary school to present practice exam materials to the students. They were remarkable . They worked in groups to guess answers , then we presented them. It is so amazing to see yet again how well the students were able to exceed expectations despite, a classroom with no lights, a difficult to read board, and no photocopies of the work, only hand copied notes by the students into their copy books . After finishing at the school Jessica and I took a stroll quickly through the very busy market down in the man area of town around past mama Mzango’s where Steven and Mohammed had already stoppeed for a warm Kilimanjaro and a water respectively . Dinner was the bomb! As usual Dr. Elton joined us to talk about common diseases in Tanzania. Then it was off to bed to shover and begin planning for tomorrow’s lessons! Cheers .

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Goodbye doesn’t mean Forever

This is my final day in Pommern. After breakfast the first stop is the primary school to repair a Tippy Tappy. Next stop is Dr. Elton’s office. Its my lucky day says sir Elton” we have a tooth to remove from a female patient” Doc Elton administers the freezing, I ask some questions, and five minutes later we're ready to go. The first thing I notice , the extraction device looks odd. I was actually expecting pliers for the job. What a weird looking tool. The lady in the chair was really brave, no screaming or crying. The bone ripping noise I hear is like someone trying to split a piece of wood apart. How did Jessica do this for two weeks. She may of looked fragile , but you gotta be tough to look at this.Enough of this , so I’m now off to the secondary school to say goodbye and thanks for welcoming me into the community. After that I give Ajuae a little assistance with geography, socialize with the teachers, and for some , the final goodbye before I fade away into the sunset. Its spaghetti for lunch. After that to the primary school to do a little touch – up and then some free time back at the mission.At about 4:00p.m one of the teachers MUJURI passes by and talks for a while. Soon after that , Ajuae and two friends pass by . Ajuae is looking for Sheena's email address. When they leave, Mujuri, returns and invites me over to his place – mujuri really keeps his home very tidy and cozy looking.He strikes me as very genuine and a sincere person. I wish I would of met him earlier. At 7:00 I show up back at the mission house for dinner. James comes over for another fierce game of scrabble and the night is finished playing Uno with Mohammed. Shower, and hit the hay.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

“life is mostly simple, don’t complicate it and expect too much."

This morning my alrm goes off as usual at 7:00 a.m I really don’t want to get out of bed immediately, but there is some big chunky bug crawling on the floor in front of my bed.. I get up, put my shoes on and step on the critter. Snap ., crack, pop and that‘ll teach it a lesson . I go to the bathroom to wash up, but no water comes out . The village has a serious crises, no water, so after breakfast , the hunt is on, to find where or where the break may be. We seem to wander aimlesly. Doesn’t anybody mark where the pipe runs underground?Half the village is out looking for the leak. Some of the students are excused from school to assist in the search. This could be tougher than seeking out the legendary hyrax. Finally the brake is found close to the water fall. The pipe is reconnected and all should be well. Nope! Somehow they forget to redirect the water to the secondary school. At 4:00 Harman. Drives down from the secondary school to find out what happened. After a large conference, a valve is turned and the school has water.At 1:00 in the afternoon I teach my final class of geography. Today for every important English term, I also translate the word into Swahili. It really seemed to help the kids. I told the kids “Good show”and they repeat “Good show”. Then the rest of the day I relaxed , finished reading my book, did a little geography.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Don’t always see the glass half empty . Appreciate what’s in there."

This morning I wake up to a another tastey breakfast by mama Tonny. At 9:30 I’m off to school to meet my Tanzanian daughter and teacher Ajuae . Its back to geography teaching . I really get the feeling the kids are understanding more of what I say. After teaching I’m back buying candy, super glue, batteries and a full box of Obama Gum. Then back to the mission house for lunch . After lunch I decide to go looking for Moses , since we were to do some construction work. Rumour was he went to the Catholic mission . On my way there I did a little socializing with the town citizens, eventually bumping into Moses . Moses asks me to follow him . I followed him for fifteen minutes, no idea where were going, no thought of even asking. Finally we stop at Moses’ home, one that he shares with two friends. I always wandered what it may look like inside one of these homes. What I find is really just one step up from homelessness. No chairs no tables, just one dilapidated bed shared by 3 people. After that we lug a very heavy bag of soil back to the mission house, for the vegetable garden. At that point Mohammed and Edward arrive from IRINGA. More supplies were brought to repair the sinks. Finally the sink is fixed.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Things may not of worked out well today , but be patient, you have another chance tomorrow

Last night felt a little eerie, having this whole house to myself. This morning its just Edward and I. Today were going to work around the mission house, installing hardware we bought on Friday. All the main light bulbs are changed to be more energy efficient, to lower the load on the generator.Two new toilet seat covers are successfully installed. Then we have three sinks to repair 1) kitchen faucet2) leaks in the room Sheena and Jessica had occupied 3) Dining room sink.The sink repair did not go very well . Poor Moses broke the new faucet for mama Tonnys kitchen . The dining room sink now leaks twice as fast, and the bedroom sink absolutely doesn’t work. Thankfully there is tomorrow, for a little tweaking. At 3:30 P.M I took off to the secondary school to seek out Ajua Mlelwa, to inquire about more teaching. I fraternize at the school till about 6:30 p.m After dinner pastor saga does a briet visit. I show him my camera pictures and talk a bit. After that, shower and say good night to a fast pace day.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Well this morning is the beginning of the final day for our lovely young lady Mazunga.This morning were back at it with the tippy tappy hand wash stations. The clinic is a no go today. So I stay with Moses working the hand wash stations until noon. At about 10:00 Sheena and Jessica are off to the secondary school to say their good byes. Sheena is overcome with emotion . At this pint she realizes the profound effect this program has had on her life. At 1:00 in the afternoon I teach geography at the secondary school. Ajuae says I am getting better at teaching after each lesson and that I should change my profession to teaching in Canada.After that Ajuae and Joseph take me to the kitchen where I break one of Edwards cardinal rules. I try the Ugalia and bean stew, I get sick, Edward will tell me” I told you so”Aat the secondary school supply shop I bump into Sheena and Jessica , The girls ask me.If I would like to join them at the primary school to play a educational game with the children. I get to keep score, and use my yellow, blue and pink chalk. Then its back to the mission house where the girls now spend what seems like an eternity making tests . Today I find out the local girls here in town are deficient in iron , and the side effects are causing them to eat the martar around the bricks. For dinner Mama Tonny treats us with donuts.After dinner Edward treats us to a little history of Tanzania, then Sheena kindly down loads my camera pictures, just in case I lose my camera.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

“ I have amazing news for you! Man is not alone on this planet. He is part of a community , upon which he depends absolutely."

This morning over breakfast we revisited own goals. I went to the clinic and did rounds with Dr. Elton , and the two female patients who were admitted were looking and feeling better today which is good news. Then there were no more patients, so I went and hammered a few nails (mostly unsuccessfully) and saved a little wood with Moses and Steven. I headed to the secondary school and joined Sheena the teacher and doughnuts. Then Peter, the second headmaster, showed us the kitchen since I ‘d never seen it, which was incredible. After a quick break back at home, Sheena went back to class and Steven went to teach his Geography class. I resumed some construction , at which point I miraculously transformed into my namesake – a Carpeter and I was hammering like a pro. The new, strong nails may have played a role in my newfound success. Then I had lunch and Edward and I met Sheena at the primary school for their English lesson. After that It was back to construction where we were making the spinning part where the water and soap hangs for the washing station. Those were my favorite. Today , my goals of construction were officially fulfilled. A lovely local lady brought some baskets and we each purchased some of the cute, colorful , very reasonably priced little things. Then mama Tonny prepared an little pizza – she’s basically a magician.