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It's perfect.

TANZANIA | Tuesday, 10 September 2013 | Views [477] | Comments [4]

Teacher Claudia and the kids

Teacher Claudia and the kids

There is something quite comforting about sleeping under a mosquito net. I almost want to have one on my bed back home, even though I might see one mosquito a year. My cats would have a time of getting all tangled in it though, so probably not a good idea.

It’s early, maybe 9:30pm and I’m already in bed. It’s amazing how early you get to bed when there is nothing really you can do in a rural community. It’s dark, the crickets are singing their little hearts out. I hear the crunch of feet on pebbled walkways as the Masai warrior guarding our lodge walks by. It’s standard to hire a guard here, even for a single household. I wonder how often they actually have to “guard”. What a terribly boring job, I would think.

Today was...so many things. Eye opening, frustrating, overwhelming, exhausting, relaxing, fun and perfect. No matter what, I always feel everything is perfect and happens how it’s supposed to. But today really was a “what did I get myself into and who do I think I am to be able to pull it off” kind of day. And man, do I wish I spoke Swahili! That’s the frustrating part. I would feel so much more in control. However, I think I’m not supposed to feel in control. That’s the eye opening part. I’m really being shown that I cannot do this without God’s hand on the project. I cannot do this by sheer will. I need to ask for help- big help. God….help!

I get pretty hard on myself when it comes to how much I think I should be able to do. But there is that word “should”. What a terrible word. I did a whole speech in Toastmasters on eliminating it from our vocabulary. “Should” means you aren’t, or that there is a lack of, or imaginary pressure put on things by imaginary people. “Should” creates guilt because whatever it is, you didn’t do it. I should have learned more Swahili before I came. I should have called Frank more. I should have gotten a mentor. I should have just gone to work for someone else before creating my own school from scratch hahaha...Why can’t I just be a normal person and do normal stuff? Well...I’m not, I guess. And for some reason I took on this massive project and everything I’m feeling right now is only because it’s a year and a half of build up and now there is this pressure on performance. Things that would come easier for me in the US are now challenging, mainly because I don’t speak Swahili. Like finding a variety of carpenters to come up with a plan for the play ground and getting estimates. In the US I would just look it up on Google and Yelp. Here, not so simple.

The overwhelming and exhausting parts come in when I finally get to the project. There were only three children there today as the other three were sick. And Frank gave me sad news of a 14 year old girl who was supposed to take her graduating exam today had fallen in the river and drown. It’s a small town so news like this affects the whole community. I was then introduced to our teacher Claudia. She has a sweet smile and is really great with the children. Frank indicated for me to stay with her and I think maybe teach? Um….no. Not today. We have some business to attend to. So I went with Frank into the office and had a sit down. This is where I dug into where we really were with the project and where we need to be to move forward. I thought more had been done on research for the playground and found out we really need to start from scratch. I know at this point Frank started to feel pressure, and honestly maybe that’s a good thing. But we came up with a plan of who he was going to talk to and I would also reach out to Jenny and Jo, the owners of where I’m staying since I think they would be able to direct me to a builder. Then we discussed transportation- ugh. If we were only focusing on the local village, it wouldn’t be such a challenge. However, I learned why Frank targeted other specific villages. He feels responsible for his family- children that came from his grandfather’s side. Children that had no chance of an education without his help. I understand this, and also that it’s a big part of why he wanted to start this school. It just makes it more challenging. We discussed finding a new location but anywhere we go, some kids will just be too far to walk. We will talk of this issue more but I think I need to start asking around for a driver we can contract until we have enough money to buy our own van (dala dala). Frank even said if we got him a cheap car he would pick them up himself every day haha…. We just may end up doing that!

After the tough conversations, I pulled out some of the items that were donated or purchased for the school- the educational books and tools. I only brought a few things from my stash but I could already see Frank’s face brighten. We discussed the direction of how we wanted to educate and the tools and toys we would be using. I think Frank realized we really are on the same side with the same vision and I saw him relax a bit. Then we went outside to discuss our vision of the playground and how simple it really could be. There is a grand tree that would make a good place for a tire swing, plenty of space for a sandbox and an area to build something to climb on and slide down. Simple. :) No problem. Haha. Eesh. How good we have it in the US where we can just go to Home Depot to pick up most of it and build ourselves. Or purchase prefab swingsets we would just have to assemble. Here I don’t even know where to start. But start we will. I was given a tour of the grounds where I discovered we have many mango trees, an avocado tree, the start of a garden, a chicken and our newly built kitchen. I met the cook and the gardner/security guard. The cook is the mother of one of the little girls. I’m so happy to employ her. Our security is a gardener by trade and also a Masai warrior so it’s great he found a place to be employed as both. I found out that we provide water to anyone in the community that wants to come in to get it. What a great thing to find out! All details that get lost in the distance between here and home. I also met the school mascots, Chupa (bottle) and Siagi (cream), our pups.

I sat down with our teacher Claudia to look at some of the books I brought. She loved the books I found that can be written on and wiped clean. What a find! (Thank you, Groupon). We brought out the bubble wand that was donated and the kids went wild. I blew up the beach ball that will probably only last a day and the children’s faces lit up as they bounced it around. By the time I left, they had used up the bubbles so I put it on my check list to grab some dish soap in town and make our own. I got to sample the porridge the kids get everyday. It was a goopy, greyish purple substance in plastic cups. Mmmmmmm. Actually, it tasted better than it looked so I was pleasantly surprised. I guess it’s a slow cooked mixture of nuts, corn flour, milk, sugar...something something.

The lovely Katie stopped by to meet me face to face. She had been such a gift this last year. Katie is Frank’s girlfriend, an American who works here at a non-profit. She’s been able to give me some insight and “big picture” kind of details I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten. She let Frank and I take her car into town where I got my phone situation worked out, along with picking up some Tz shillings and getting lunch where we met his friend Eric who manages a hotel near the school. He invited us to stop by Wednesday to look at possible future accomodations after my week here at the Badger. We then proceeded to go to the central market where we purchased a couple of way overpriced plastic bins for the children’s toys- but it was slim pickings so it seemed our only option.

Overall, it was a good, albeit challenging day. As I said, it was perfect. I spent dinner with my new friends Joseph and Rachel from Holland and we ended the night gazing at a strange four winged creature flying around the light bulb. I will sleep well tonight under my mosquito net. Tomorrow is a new day, and I’m sure I will feel much better about everything. Rome did not get built in a day. Neither will our playground. :)

Tags: education, nonprofit, volunteering

Comments

1

Hey hun! I'm just getting to your blog entries now. Sorry for the delay! I know we had talked about how my Dad built some various playground equipment from scratch in my sister's yard when the kids were smaller. Do you want me to ask him to scan the plans and email them?

Also, very important: You'll need to have the sandbox covered. My sister's sandbox had a lid with a hinge right in the middle, so it was pretty easy to close - just basic particle board or something. You want to keep the animals/cats out so they don't treat it like a litter box. Or, we're looking at yet another opportunity for kids to have exposure to various parasites! Yay!

So proud of you!!! Wow...

  Lexie Sep 12, 2013 2:26 AM

2

Wow, you are quite the writer sweetie. Totally enjoying it:). Tom and I are going hiking Saturday then I'm going to by him lunch at Peppy's. Cats are fine and all over me now. Hope the neighbors are ok now with the wifi share. Love you, Dad

  Bob Dunn Sep 12, 2013 5:35 AM

3

Lexie, the plans would be great and thank you for the tip on covering it. We have dogs in the yard so there are no cats. It's good to cover though.

Dad, have fun with T and glad the kitties have adapted. The wifi is fine- and you are probably enjoying it more now too! Hugs xo

  Christine Sep 12, 2013 5:03 PM

4

Hi Teeny! Wow... Rome's got nothin' on you girl! I love that God not only gave you a big heart but a way with words! You stay healthy, safe and focused out there and I will continue to pray that God will bless your efforts as he clearly already is doing! I just love you so very much and am just honored to be your BFF =) You my dear are a gem and are... yes.. wait for it... are truly outrageous.... lolol.. get it ;)

  Sperry Sep 12, 2013 11:51 PM

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