"Do not try to satisfy your vanity by teaching a great many things. Awaken people's curiosity. It is enough to open minds, do not overload them. Put there just a spark. If there is some good inflammable stuff, it will catch fire."
I spent Monday with Flora, Livi and Maulidi in town. We met at Impala hotel and then carried to Clock Tower, where we stopped at Milk & Honey restaurant (local food and prices) and had chai and chapatti for breakfast. These young adults are so much fun to hang around with! Maulidi is such a character. We had so many laughs, mostly at my expense, and Maulidi loves to correct my Kiswahili when I use the wrong grammar – which is fantastic! Just over breakfast time they taught me so many new phrases and grammar points. Flora thought it was hilarious that there was a chicken dish on the menu with the same name as her classmate.
After chai we carried on walking through town to find a place where they could get passport size photos taken for their admission forms to secondary. After doing about 6 loops we finally found a place, and surprisingly unlike Tanzania, it took no time at all! Next stop was the internet café in Shoprite. I taught the teens how to use Gmail and made them all email addresses, so that hopefully at secondary they have the chance to correspond with us and also you guys. I left them to play around with their emails for an hour or so while I did some other things, and then we waited just outside Stigbucks for Blandina to arrive. Flora absolutely lost it and couldn’t control her giggles when a crowd of very touristy, quite elderly Wazungu (safari suits and sunhats) came cruising past in quite short shorts and mini-skirts. Nothing unusual for me of course, I’m a Mzungu, but Flora just couldn’t fathom why a ‘Bibi’ (grandmother) would wear a short skirt! Of course, she didn’t realise I understood her Kiswahili, so then when I started laughing we all collapsed for about ten minutes. Maulidi who was sitting in the shade didn’t quite catch the joke and was getting rather frustrated that none of us could stop laughing for long enough to tell him what had happened.
After meeting Blandina for lunch and to exchange ideas, we parted ways and the 4 of us went down to Uswahilini markets to get new school shoes for Maulidi and undergarments for Flora. I sent the boys off with some $$ to bargain shoes for themselves – annoyingly, the colour of my skin makes life rather tricky here, especially when bargaining for school shoes – but the boys were successful and found some great kicks. Flora and I went wandering and managed to find her the right items and sizes, now that she is at secondary and well into her teens it was girl time.
All done for the day, Livi jumped on a red Dala and cruised home, and I escorted Maulidi and Flora to their green Dala and then walked home myself. Its days like these where we just get to ‘hang out’ that I love the most, the kids really feel free to talk about anything and we have some great conversations and jokes.
Yesterday (Tuesday) I met the teens at Shepherds Kimondolu Campus with all of their gear at 9am, to prepare for the trip out to Shepherds Secondary. Maulidi locked his trunk and then left his key at home so he had to race back and get that, and Livi forgot his pillows and sheets at shepherds Moivaro Primary so we stopped in on the way to pick those up. I caught up with the younger kids when we dropped in too – the boys were all playing football so I got a wave in and they carried on playing, and the girls came and said hello just before we left again. They’ve really settled in well for this year, and they look good 🙂
Blandina and I followed the school bus in our car as we had a lot of things to take but didn’t know the way. My gosh, the dust!!! After turning off the main road towards Moivaro, we followed the dirt road for about 80km. we had the windows open because of the heat, but following behind the bus – what an ordeal! Both Blandina and I looked like we’d rolled around in mud and sand when we arrived. The Campus is really nice, way out of town with nobody and nothing around. Next door to the Shepherds Sec is another primary school that has been built by a Swedish woman and her Tanzanian husband, which is very convenient as they schools get to share power and water sources, making life a lot easier!
Mama Lucy (owner) took us and the other parents (about 8) around the school, showing us all of the facilities. After driving in the front gate, there is a long driveway and then a parking/reception area to the left. To the right is one long building with 4 separate classrooms and a staff bathroom attached to the back. Because the school only started in 2012, there is only one class for each form, excluding form 4 which will begin next year. This is great because it means the classes are small and the kids get a lot more time with the teacher. The classes are great, big and spacious with the handprints and names of the foundation class decorating the walls. The fourth classroom is being used as the boy’s dormitory at the moment, and the old boy’s dormitory is now used for the girls. Carrying on down the land, to the left is the science lab and library which both look great, and behind that is the kitchen, store, cowshed and maize grinder. Also behind the library is the communal eating area, it is a huge tree that looks like it has been there for years, with branches spanning out over a wide space. Around the base of the tree they have built wooden benches in a circle facing each other, and that is where all the kids and teachers eat together. It’s really beautiful. The school has 2 cows that provide enough milk for the whole campus which is really great. Across from these buildings is the dorm bathroom, with 4 showers and 4 toilets each for boys and girls, then behind that is the girl’s dormitory. It is very large, with 2 huge rooms of bunks, a room for the matron and a big bathroom with 8 stalls at the back.
The location is beautiful, and Mama Lucy still owns another 3 acres to the left which they haven’t utilised yet. The pathways are gorgeous and they have planted bushes and trees all around which in a few years will be blooming, providing shade and lovely places to hang out for the children. After organising all the stationery between Flora, Livi and Maulidi we left them to organise themselves and went and joined Mama Lucy and the other parents in the shade of the tree. The teens came and joined us after a time and Mama Lucy began the opening ceremony. She greeted everybody personally and began her speech. I had assured her it was fine to speak in Kiswahili, as I understand most. She made a great speech, I noted the Academic of the shepherds Nursery was taking a video so I have organised to collect this from her and hopefully I will be able to upload it, along with photos I just remembered take to the website for you all to see. After each of the teachers stood, introduced themselves and spoke a little, Mama invited me to say a few words. I simply thanked the school and teachers for everything they are doing, and congratulated the children on achieving secondary, Mama then spoke about Blandina and ACE and what we are doing with the children, it was really lovely, she had such nice things to say. Each of the year groups of students then came up and stood to the front, we applauded them and wished them luck for the coming year. When Maulidi, Flora and Livi all stood up with confidence and moved to the front, I have not felt so proud as I did seeing them then, with such a belief in themselves that they can do well. It was really amazing and brought tears. I am so, so proud of them.
Finally Mama Lucy had a pastor do a sermon (Tanzanian style – I thought he was going to start levitating he was preaching with so much energy!), he gave some valuable life tips to the kids and we were all done! Blandina and I left the children then, driving the hour back to Arusha. I will return on Sunday evening to collect Livi, he must visit the Dr on Monday as we think he has stomach ulcers, and he needs to get his eyes checked. I was really impressed with the school, and I hope we can have all the ACE children join this secondary when they graduate, from Haradali and Davis also.
Friday I drove out to Kisongo to pay for Ester’s school fees and extra tuition, as well as collect her results. Gosh it’s so beautiful out there, would be such a nice place to live. Picked up Blandina who spend the morning getting her hair braided – it’s a 5hr ordeal! We carried on to Haradali to give the grade 4 children extra exercise books that their teachers had requested, and to take down the sizes of the children who need new shoes. It’s entertaining what the kids will try and convince you are reasons for needing new shoes. Hiding their laces or pointing out a little scuff on the side doesn’t warrant a new pair sorry!
On Monday Blandina and I will be taking Livi to the eye doctor, buying the Haradali shoes and Davis textbooks, then returning to each of the schools to continue the process!
Until next week,