Saturday August 3, 2019
Today was full of anticipation and excitement here at home base in Moshi, Tanzania as we put the finishing touches on our preparations for our fourth and final group of the summer.
Our small group of ten is still arriving bit by bit (first three, then four, then two later this evening and finally our last community member tomorrow morning at 4:05 am!). We will be posting a whole-group photo tomorrow as soon as we are all assembled.
We have two action-packed weeks in store for this lively bunch, and can’t wait to dive in with them tomorrow for orientation, a host family visit, and their first mentor group. The first days in-country are always a bit foggy and overwhelming thanks to jet lag and a lot of information to cover, but thanks to a couple of later mornings, we hope to all be rested and ready for our first day of service at Mnini and Matoli Primary School on Monday!
Sunday August 4, 2019
We started our first day with a delicious breakfast made by the awesome staff. Everyone enjoyed the amazing food and loved watching the four cats walk around the table. After clearing our plates, we headed to the parking space to play a game of 4 squares and chaos, getting to learn more about everyone. Then we head back to the dining area to have a lesson in culture and learn some Swahili.
After, we got ready to meet the host families we would be spending the day with. We greeted them in the front and had a wonderful lunch, getting to know the families and let them get to know us. We then left home base to see the houses of our host families.
The rest of the day, we sang, danced, and explored the area. We went to a local market and went to bridges that towered over flowing rivers. Sadly, we had to leave but we all got to have dinner, shower, and play card games with each other. All in all, our first official day couldn’t have gone better and we can’t wait for day 2!
Monday August 5, 2019
Today was great! We went to the school for the very first time and played with the kids during their recess. They loved to hold our hands and play soccer with us. There were about 400 kids playing in one small playing area, but they were the happiest children I have ever seen. When we had to leave they did not want to leave our hands. We also went over a lesson plan for teaching the 3rd and 5th graders at the school tomorrow.
The 3rd grade teachers (Bella, Seth, Laura, Kate and Madison) are teaching the days of the week and the 5th grade teachers (Callie, Hector, Derek, Ellen and Natalie) are teaching time to the students. Afterwards, we sanded a classroom so we can paint it later this week. We wore dust masks and goggles to keep the dust out of our mouths and eyes, but our arms were coated in a fine layer of dust by the end.
Then we bussed to the market, souvenir shop, and grocery store. We had a seamstress come to our home base later so we could create clothing from the fabrics we bought at the market! Many people had bucket hats, scrunchies, and skirts made. Now we are all playing soccer together before dinner…we are having fish here for the first time!
– by Callie
Tuesday August 6, 2019
Today was really great! We taught at the kids at the school for the first time and it was successful. Bella, Seth, Laura, Kate and Madison taught the days of the week in a 3rd grade classroom. We taught the kids a song and had them come to the board and practice spelling and pronunciation. Callie, Hector, Derek, Ellen and Natalie taught in a 5th grade classroom and explained how to tell time.
After teaching in the classroom, we went to recess with the kids were we played soccer and they were all so excited to hold our hands. We then continued to work on painting a classroom at the school.
After lunch, we went to a coffee cafe were we ordered milkshakes and smoothies and heard Uweza’s (Mama Simba) inspiring life story. She taught us about her life philosophies and how she persevered through struggles growing up in a large family in Tanzania and how she continues to give back to those in her community.
We then visited a coffee plantation where we picked coffee beans and learned the process of making coffee here in Tanzania. We picked out the spoiled beans, crushed the remaining beans up, and and then boiled them and drank the coffee. The women at the Mze Maro Coffe Farm performed a Tanzanian dance and taught us all the dance and song. Now we are all relaxing, chatting, and playing games, getting ready for another eventful day…
– by Bella
Wednesday August 7, 2019
Hi families! Today was…FANTASTIC! We started off the day with service, one group teaching days of the week and the other group trying to master minutes on a clock. After teaching, the group had a great break time with the kids. As for the progress of the classroom, we sanded over the newly plastered portions of the walls. We finished off service by priming the walls.
Lunch was absolutely DELICIOUS! We had fried dough with assorted toppings such as guacamole, beans, and tomatoes. We took a trip to an art studio and made Batic art. Through many different steps with wax and ink painting! To end the night we played a few games of capture the flag. Exhausted, we went right to sleep!
Thursday August 8, 2019
Hi there! Today for teaching many of our students were absent to attend the Farmers’ Day with the family (a holiday here), some still arrived simply for our lesson and recess; leaving afterwards. My group consisted of Derek, Natalie, Callie and Ellen and, due to the reduced numbers, we decided to have a slightly less intense day! As a result, we played a variety of interactive games; some of which became slightly chaotic, but ultimately fun and informative for the kids. The other group which is teaching 3rd grade went for a similar approach and ended up playing hangman and other classroom lessons. In recess, there was enough space to organize a football game which had previously been difficult because there were too many people.
When we reached the classroom, the sanding and priming was finally complete, so we made a start painting the window frames a bright blue. I think the consensus was that we hope our work will last for a long time; genuinely attracting kids to school with a more constructive and neat learning environment. After lunch, we sat down for a enlightening discussion about FGM (female genital mutilation). They taught us a lot about the issue and how awful it can be for women. For the last activity prior to dinner, we went to a park and watched a performance of some traditional Chagga dancing. As a treat, we were allowed to join in despite some people and my hesitations. In the end it was fun!
Friday August 9, 2019
Today was such an amazing day (as usual)! We started off the day as we normally do, at the local primary school. Both groups are doing a fantastic job at teaching, and the students are learning at a super fast pace thanks to our thought-out lesson plans that get better by the day. Recess was a hit, as the kids always love holding hands and playing games with us. Our time spent with them in the mornings has created such a special bond!
Afterwards we proceeded to continue painting the window frames of our designated classroom. It’s getting a bit messy, but such an awesome process nonetheless! It’s been so great seeing the progress thus far.
Later on, after a delicious lunch which included zucchini soup and AMAZING bread, we headed over to a private secondary school nearby. There we were able to meet Sister Dr Lucretia Njao and gain knowledge about her views regarding education in Tanzania, as well as how she started the school twenty years ago! We could not thank her enough for her time and inspiring words! There we also had the pleasure of meeting some of the students who were kind enough to show us around. They then finished off the afternoon with a surprise feast!
To wrap up the day, we shopped around a bit at the supermarket and got some down time at the internet cafe for some snacks. All in all, it was a very fun and educational day!
– by Laura
Saturday August 10, 2019
On Saturday morning, we got up early for 6:30 breakfast to could get on the road towards Tarangire National Park. Along the way, we stopped at a supermarket in Arusha and got snacks for the next two days. After about 5 hours of driving through towns, corn, and cattle, we reached the park and had a boxed lunch. On the safari, we popped open the roof of the jeep and saw elephants, giraffes, ostriches, zebras, wildebeests, warthogs, impalas, and a female lion. After the safari, we drove an hour to Twiga Lodge and had dinner there. We did yoga in the evening as our evening game. The next morning was even earlier for a 5:30 breakfast.
We packed up our stuff and drove uphill to Ngorongoro Crater through thick fog. It was super chilly at the top of the crater. The sun was coming out as we went in. The first animals we saw were female lions. They chased an elephant but weren’t successful. We went on to see more zebras, wildebeests, warthogs, elephants, and ostriches. Some new animals we saw were hippos, baboons, gazelles, and flamingos. We ate another boxed lunch in the crater then headed out. On our way home, we stopped at a souvenir shop then got to home base right at dinner. We were all exhausted from the safari and went to bed early.
Monday August 12, 2019
Hi there! Today is 8/12/19 and today was a beautiful day, just like every other day. We had an exhilarating day that tired out the whole crew. The day consisted of service work, an HIV/AIDS panel, and visiting the Tuleeni Orphanage.
The day started off at 6:30 am with a magnificent sunrise. Breakfast commenced at 8 and we were served eggs, toast, yams, and some excellent juice. We then headed off to service. Sadly, we had smaller classes today than normal due to an Islamic holiday that most students had to attend to. For those that showed up, the classes were mostly made up of fun games, such as 4 corners. We then continued work on the classroom, by starting to paint the interior and exterior of the classroom.
We then headed back to home base for a delicious lunch prepared by Mama D, James, and the entire crew. We then had an HIV/AIDS panel where we got to meet real people who have HIV. It was a highly immersive experience that really opened everyone’s eyes as to how HIV can affect the average person. We learned about their stories and how they have dealt with the issues presented with the acquisition of HIV.
After the magnificent panel, we headed to the Tuleeni Orphanage. It really hit home for me because that’s where my first 2 years of my life were spent (hi mom and dad). Because of this connection I have with being an orphan, it was a special day to lead the day. It was really great to meet the kids and let them know that they also have the chance to do something great and be able to move past this hardship, just like I did.
I made lots of friends there and despite their current hardship, it was amazing to know that we were able to brighten their day. We then headed back to home base for a delicious dinner and finally we capped off the night with a wonderful leadership learning exercise that helped us all learn how we are as leaders and how we can use our leadership skills to our advantage. All in all, it was another great day in Tanzania and keeps us excited for another day of hard work and rewarding experiences.
Tuesday August 13, 2019
Today was yet another amazing day here in Moshi! We started off the day as usual with a 7:30 am breakfast, which today included toast, fried eggs, super delicious fried dough that we cannot get enough of, and some fruit. Following breakfast, we got into our teaching groups to begin lesson planning. Both grades (grade 3 and 5) have made so much progress since we’ve arrived! Every single day the students amaze us with their motivation and excitement to learn – it really gives us some perspective on our own education, one full of materials and resources that these children don’t have.
After another fun teaching session with the kids, we went to recess, which for me personally is my favorite part of the day! All of us love interacting with the students, whether their English level is conversational or minimal.
We’ve learned that we don’t need language to communicate – they are patient with teaching us how to play their games, “braid” our hair, or simply stand with us hand in hand. Following recess, we had a quick snack of bananas, bread, and peanut butter to give us an extra energy boost for the painting that was to follow. We’ve come so far with the classroom project (with the guidance of Mr. Limo, the local handyman!). It’s so great to look back and see what a huge difference we’ve made in the school. When it came time to go, the students, as always, bid us the cutest farewell of high-fives and hugs.
Lunch was a vegetable-filled take on mac and cheese, with Ugali and some yellow lentils. After, we had our GLA Capstone meeting, where we discussed ways to carry on what we have learned here in Tanzania as leaders. We settled that by the end of the year, we will donate supplies to the primary school that we are teaching at and/or volunteer at a non-profit. Shortly after, our host families came for a farewell get together. We walked to their houses and made some final memories – asking questions, playing games, and enjoying each other’s company.
Dinner tonight was some coconut white rice, peas, beef, and some fruit. After dinner, it was time for the evening activity, picked by the day’s group leader (which happened to be me!). I chose to play Sardines, which is reverse hide and seek, and we played for a couple of rounds. The days spent here in Tanzania never disappoint!
– By Kate
Wednesday August 14, 2019
The sun rose at a daunting 6:39 AM. The gang jolted up at the sound of the bell, barking dogs, and rooster calls. B-FAST consisted of toast, egg, and a sweet/sour type of Tanzanian bread. During lesson planning, we had to plan our last day of teaching the kids at the school (sad); however, we knew that our time was up and the kids retained the information well. During service, there was a multitude of goodbyes, hugs, laughing, music, and a goodbye presentation by the kids. I had the pleasure of speaking on behalf of GLA during the goodbye presentation. We finished and touched up the classroom we have been painting , and we could see the real progress right in front of us when I compared pictures of the building originally to the new touch ups.
After the last day of service, the gang came back to a lovely lunch consisting of eggs with fries, some vegetables, and delicious juice! We then went to the supermarket and souvenir shop to do last minute shopping for the KILI hike tomorrow and last minute gifts and goodies for family members and etc.. When we got back , the hair braider and seamstress came. The seamstress gave back our clothes that we requested to have made a week before, and the hair braider did a variety of braids to some members of the group.
After that was dinner! We had pasta with tomato sauce and fish. I could tell that everyone was famished after everything was gone to the last atom of food! Right after, Mama Simba graciously gifted us with a talk of inspiration before we went on to our final activity where we talked about impacts, feelings, and wrote personalized messages to each other. Overall it was a lovely day with so much fun and excitement; we can’t wait for the kili hike tomorrow.
Once again, despite the sleep-in option we woke up earlier to witness the magnificent sunrise for the penultimate time. Bella took photos that captured the essence of the sun. We then continued with our adventurous day with the procession to B-FAST.
The hike commenced with an exciting and jubilant bus-ride filled with the echoes of our laughs. The bus was certainly not silent. We arrived. Our guide introduced us to the surroundings. Although ‘Kilimanjaro’ was not visible from our location, @dshay258 (Derek Shay) was visible. Waterfall 1 approached with each step we took towards the waterfall. It was spectacular and unlike anything we could have possibly perceived. Water trickled down and splashed on the extremely unstable rocks. Ellen was there and despite best efforts did not take a tumble into the trickling water.
Then we strolled to waterfall 2 after Hector and Seth shared a bamboo walking pole. The inseparable and elusive pair Laura and Kate named the walking stick Quentin in a fit of wit. Waterfall 2 was identically beautifully to the first. The water tickled the rocks playfully yet simultaneously sentimentally. SHOCK! We unpacked our packed lunches, but Seth somehow managed to drop not only a hard-boiled egg, but also a delicious muffin prepared by Mama D, James and the entire crew. We can only say cheers for their illustrious endeavours. Muffin got soggily soggier as we finally mange to experience the infamous Tanzanian pterodactyl thanks to Natalie and her screeching vocal chords.
Inspired by the beauty of nature, Seth and Hector attempted the impossible and scaled 1/16 of Kilimanjaro [a precarious rock.] Fortunately, the hope that we may see a part of the real mountain spurred us on to the 3rd waterfall. This was different due to the location. The waterfall was in someone’s farm in a steep valley; challenging even self-proclaimed American Bear Grylls mountain expert Madison. This waterfall provided the backdrop to babymunishi (our local director Agape’s) latest Instagram post. Once everyone got their Instagram worthy photos, we climbed out of intrepid valley. Our guide continued to display his intense bravery and resilience to nature by guiding us to the Kilimanjaro gate. Later, our guide grabbed our attention by informing us that his bravery has surged him to the peak an absolutely astounding 51 times.
The first time he managed to accomplish this mind-boggling feat was when he was 15. To wrap up the trip, we stopped at the souvenior shop and we finally got to see Kilimanjaro. We had a final dinner that was beautifully prepared by culinary master James and Jaclyn. To wrap up our final day in this beautiful place, we had a lovely bonfire. We shared a final moment of laughs and memories around the magnificent bonfire. As usual, the multi-talented and self-taught James helped formulate one of the best built bonfires the world has ever seen. All in all, while we may shed a tear, we will always have this blog.
Hector & Seth