Monday, February 1, 2010

Last Week’s Menu

A lot of people ask me what it is exactly I do over here as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Some even have the guts to ask what my daily routine is.  When faced with this question point blank, I never know what to say, because each day is so different and affected by the most random events, and then at the end of a week, everything has somehow blurred together.  But not this time.  I decided to write down everything that I did last week, from Monday to Sunday. I’ll try to do this more often, seeing as the Meeshloaf I served up in 2009 was barely enough to satisfy a cockroach.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Leave Mbeya town at 10am, arrive in Ilembo at 4pm after waiting in Mbalizi for a lorie truck to leave for a few hours. Luckily I was able to buy some kersone at wholesale cost before I left…5 liters for around 5000 shillings, this should fulfill my lantern and cooking needs for at least a month. I also travel in style with a debe of dagaa (large bucket full of dried fish so I can feed my dog, Raha). So things are smelling pretty good in the truck.  After getting into Ilembo I drop my bags off at Mbinde’s duka and go straight to a meeting with the OVC Committee to schedule the distribution of blankets, soap, notebooks, and school uniforms that will be given out in the next couple of weeks to about 100 of the most vulnerable children living in Ilembo, thanks to a grant approved by the Mary Ryan Foundation! (maryryanfoundation.org) The minutes were read from the last meeting and we go over the budget for building the out of school youth center, where there will be classrooms big enough to hold double the amount of students that are presently enrolled in the vocational program of sewing, carpentry, and masonry. The foundation has already been dug, and next Monday a trip has been planned for the chairman and the treasurer to go to town to purchase cement and to withdraw money from the account in order to pay for all of the bricks that will be used in building the classrooms. The meeting finishes at about 7pm, just when the heavy rain starts.  Luckily I intercept Skittles on the main road, who has my dog and an umbrella.  He and his friend walk me home and help carry my stuff.  It’s getting dark, so I light a candle and Skittles notices the Toy Story 100 piece puzzle on my table, and has no idea what it is.  So he starts working on the puzzle as I help explain that he should start with the outside border pieces first.  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think that this will really end up looking like the picture on the box of buzz lightyear, woody, the potato heads, and various aliens.  But he gives it a shot anyway (see pic)

DSC02997 and with a lot of determination is able to complete the frame.  I’m exhausted so I tell them I’m going to sleep and thank them for helping me get back in the rain.  I do a little work on my new netbook (I love this thing!!!) typing up a completion report for about an hour since I’m trying to close out the World AIDS Week Grant. About 10pm, I go to sleep.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wake up around 7, feed the dog, light the charcoal jiko so I can try out the coffee percolator that my sister Christy’s husband, Martin gave me.  I now have espresso, this is awesome!! I’m going to need some caffeine to get through today. espressoWalk up the giant hill towards the market, greet everyone I see with the local “Mwagona!” “Heyaaaah”

As you might remember, everyone here calls me Shali, it’s a name that’s very popular with the Umalila ladies, so they decided to give it to me because Michelle sounds too much like Mchele, which means dry rice, and Meesh was just not cool enough for them.  So as I’m walking up to meet with the OVC Committee for our first day of Most Vulnerable Children needs distribution visits, I hear “shali!!” “weh, shali, we!” (which means you, shali, you!) and literally shake everyone’s hand.  I stop by the Duka la Maziwa (the Milk Shop), and greet Joseph, the milkman, who is always smiling and happy to see Raha and I.  I grab a quick cup of maziwa mgando, which is almost like yogurt but more like some sour milk, but it tastes pretty good.  Then I continue walking on up the hill until I get to the sewing classroom, which is doubling as storage for all of the blankets, soap, notebooks, pens and uniforms we’ll be giving out.  Of course, Lorenci, my besti, is there on time at 10am.  I’ve mentioned him before..he’s 14, and orphan, is living with AIDS that he contracted from his mother at some point during the pregnancy, delivery, or while breastfeeding, and he’s a sewing student in the out of school youth vocational program.  And he’s just plain awesome.   lorenci The rest of the OVC Committee trickles in, and there’s about 5 of us that will go house to house delivering the goods today.  Our goal is to visit all the families of two subvillages, Mazigura and Madukani, about 35 kids in all.  These children were identified by the OVC Committee as living in a dangerous environment, and so we are trying to provide the basic items that these kids are unable to provide for themselves.  Most of them are living with the mother after the father had passed away, or living with elderly grandparents or aunts and uncles.  The living conditions were even worse than I had expected with certain families, but what we’re trying to do is provide them with materials that can keep them clean, warm, and supplies and clothes so that they can attend Primary School.  Primary school is free, but you need to have a uniform, shoes, notebooks and pens.  Some of these children had to drop out of school because they couldn’t afford these items.  The Mary Ryan Foundation has purchased Primary School Uniforms that were made by the out of school youth sewing students to give to those most in need; thereby helping the recipients and allowing the students to continue on with their program.  Other members of the community are also purchasing the uniforms, because they are offering them at a lower cost.  It’s kind of like a beauty school..same service, lower cost, because they’re still learning.  Only you never have to worry about the sewing students permanently ruining your hair.  After about 2 hours it starts to downpour, so all five of us hang out by the fire in the jikoni (kitchen, or place of the jiko) of one family’s house who we’ve just visited.  At about 1pm, we continue on the slippery sidepaths of Ilembo, and at one point I do a full on banana peel slip and fall right onto my ass.  Everyone laughs, including me, and I slowly get up and wipe all the mud off of me. This was one of my favorite kids who we visited. Evodi Mwile is in first grade, and is holding soap and looking at his very own new notebooks and pens that he’ll be able to use in school.   boy lookin at notebook The orange rectangular sticks in these pictures are all soap, and the clear plastic wrapped items are blankets.  You can see in Evodi’s eyes how genuinely happy he is to have his own school supplies, and you can also see by his unwashed clothes that he was in dire need of soap as well.  All in all, we visited 34 kids in the two subvillages today.  After we did the home visits we had a meeting with the sewing and carpentry teachers to discuss goals for this new term and for the treasurer to meet with the teachers to talk about purchasing supplies for the school, like oil for the  DSC03019

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machines and more thread.  After meeting with the teachers and students, I get home around 5pm and my friend Moshi, the clinical officer at the health center, comes over to hang out.  We’re going to be doing a seminar on STDs and HIV/AIDS this Thursday.  We did one last Thursday too, hopefully we can keep doing one per week.  I then make some mac n cheese that I had gotten from the US, along with some crystal light pink lemonade, and watch Mighty Ducks 1 and 2 on my computer…I can’t believe how long the battery lasts!  Also can’t believe how ridiculous the Mighty Ducks movies are… Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson, Charlie Conway’s innocence, and Coach Gordon Bombay’s dynamic character development.  I drift to sleep dreaming of the flying V..

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

8am- Meet with OVC committee to start day 2 of home visits.  We have to start early because there are 3 funerals today.  We arrive at the subvillage of Igwila and find conditions are worse here than the other two  yesterday.  It’s more isolated and farther from the road and market.  One family in particiular, the Zyolas, really needs immediate attention.  Enita Zyola should be in third grade, but dropped out of school because her mother could not afford to send her and her older sister at the same time. Her clothes are torn and she wears no shoes.  She’s taking care of her younger sister, Jenifa, while her mother travels to a nearby village to visit a relative.  Their father passed away several years ago. She will be able to return to school now because of the support of MRF and the work of the OVC Committee.  The Zyolas are a top priority for the OVC committee, and when they do corn and bean distribution, they will be first on the list.  Today, at least, each of the three children will have their own blanket which will hopefully keep them warm.  They will also have soap so they can wash themselves and their clothes.  DSC03104 -->Enita We visit 12 more kids before noon, with the rock solid mamas balancing everything on their heads as we hike up and down the slippery hills of Ilembo. 

I return home around noon, and Asia Pachanga, a former secondary school Form I student who got pregnant last year and was kicked out of school, comes over with her newborn baby, Joseph.  She said she named him Joseph because that’s my father’s name.  I guess he made quite an impression on his visit over here! He was born on Christmas day, and when she came over last week my new PCV neighbor Adrienne was visiting and we sewed socks for Joseph, and Asia decorate a Christmas stocking with Joseph’s name and birth date with supplies sent by Dos and Matt in a Christmas package.  DSC02953   DSC02951

So Asia, a 16 year old orphan and new mother, comes over to play Mastermind (she loves this game and is really good at it), but then notices the Toy Story puzzle started by Skittles and decides to have a crack at it.  Asia is one of the most gifted students I’ve seen in Ilembo, but this whole jigsaw puzzle thing is new to her and so I give her a few hints.  Within a half hour, the puzzle is completed.  Asia tells me one of the funerals is for a girl a know, a third grade student who used to come play at my house.  I ask her to take me to her house so I can pay my respects to the family.

1pm – Go to the funeral of 9 year old Mage Baraka..She died suddenly last night for unknown reasons.  She had gone to school on Monday and Tuesday morning, then started to feel ill on Tuesday evening.  Her parents took her to the Health Center that night, but they said she would need to go to Mbeya town to the Referral Hospital.  They tried to find a ride, but her condition had worsened and they were unable to find transport so late at night.  At 5am, she passed away. The funeral, as most Tanzanian funerals are, was intense and incredibly sad.  First, we went to the house where all the women are wearing khangas and the men are standing outside.  The family is inside the kitchen by the fire with the body inside the open coffin.  People come in and cry out, scream, and mourn while saying their goodbyes to Mage.  Then the body is carried in the freshly constructed wooden coffin, and everyone RUNS to the burial site.  The villagers have been working hard this morning to make 3 coffins and dig 3 graves. Mage’s grave is set in a beautiful grove of banana trees, bamboo, and eucalyptus trees.  There is heavy thunder in the distance but the rain is miraculously holding out.  I started crying as the priest was speaking, not because of the words he was saying but because Mage’s mother and sister were crying so loudly they were screaming.  All the women are sitting on the ground with their legs straight out, while the men all stand crowded around the grave.  The coffin sits upon the mound of freshly dug up earth, and the priest stands next to it.  Typical of any Tanzanian event, there is even laughter coming from the men near the grave while the mother and sister and other relatives are wailing.  Tanzanians find it apprpriate to laugh even at the most somber times.  A few words are said about Mage, but what is most upsetting to me are watching her fellow students, all in uniform, squeezing into the crowd between the mamas and the babas.  I’ve seen primary students squished into so many audiences, but it was heartbreaking to see them do it at a funeral for one of their peers.  After the burial, which also included village announcements such as “Will whoever is stealing the corn please stop stealing the corn”, and “For those who haven’t yet contributed to the subvillage funeral committee please do so now”, gifts were laid on a khanga that is placed on top of the grave.  Some of the gifts were sugar, salt and 7,500 shillings in cash that had been collected on a shovel for Mage’s family.  From the burial site we return to Mage’s home, where dozens of mamas have been preparing Kande, the traditional funeral food.  It’s a pasty mixture of corn, ugali, and a few beans.  We all wash our hands and then dig into the communal bowls that are placed around the perimeter outside.  The kande burns my fingers but I continue to eat it so that I won’t be made fun of for not being immune to boiling temperatures on my skin.  Even when I eat thekande, the hot paste remains on my hands and I have to lick it off for the burning to stop.  Everyone asks me if I’ve eaten Kande yet, and laugh when I answer “yes, of course!”  I go to offer my condolences to Mage’s family.  The women are all sitting in the kitchen on grass mats on the floor.  Outside, the hundred or so women continue to talk and eat kande.  The howling sounds of mourning rise and subside with each new visitor who goes in to console the family. 

I’ve been to many funerals in Ilembo before, but I hadn’t gone to one in a while and I had forgotten how comforting the sense of community is at an event like this.  Even more so than Anna’s funeral almost a year and a half ago, because now I actually could look around and see people I know and care about, not just faces in the crowd.  There was a calmness over everyone sitting in that grove, and I felt the grief that is the loss of a child from your community.  A child here is everyone’s child.  Mage used to come play at my house with a dozen other kids her age, and even though I never got to know her extremely well, I see her in every one of the smiling faces of the kids who continue to come and draw or color in books at my home.  I see many women from the widows group at the funeral, and they inform me that we will meet at 4pm at Mama Tuya’s house –the usual.  I go home and still feel very sad and exhausted and start to get a nasty headache, so I decide to take a 45 minute power nap. After debating staying in bed, at 4 I head up to Mama Tuya’s which is on the complete opposite side of Ilembo from me.  When i get there, I find that the rest of the mamas are tired and in the same mood as I am, and a few are resting inside.  I bring the rest of the money from the previous month’s apron sales, and they are excited because they will be able to buy pigs for their new pig project.  I have also brought the pattern for the toddler’s wrap around dress, and the widows immediately jump at the opportunity to learn a new design.  I suggest using two different kitenge patterns so that the dress can be reversible.  A two year old girl, Maria, is at the house and it’s decided she’ll be our model.  The mamas get busy tracing, cutting and sewing, and then the dress is put on Maria, who toddles around and looks adorable.  The widows are all laughing, because they’ve never seen a dress like this and are excited to have gotten a new pattern and a new project idea.  I get back home around 7, after buying an avocado and peanuts at the market.  I feed Raha and make some more crystal light.  Realize that I’m exhausted after the past two emotionally draining days.  Fire up the charcoal jiko, boil some water then decide to bake cinnamon rolls.  It takes about 2 hours, but it’s worth the work and cinn rollswait.  I listen to some mix CDs on my cvs Jensen CD player and speakers, and sit and enjoy my slightly undercooked rolls. I save half the dough so I can bake them again tomorrow.  This is the second time I’ve made them and I’m feeling more comfortable with the recipe.  I doze off to sleep after reading essays from David Sedaris’ “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” that Shan sent with Linc and Kirsten when they came to visit, and read until the candle melts down. 

 Thursday, January 28, 2010

7am: Wake up and feed Raha.  It’s cold and rainy and I want to go back to sleep.  A teaching from the sewing schools comes by at 7:30 to greet me.  After that, I finish the Sedaris book, appropriately finishing with his essays about finding silly English phrases in Japan, such as “Eye Rash Tint” which is relatable due to the similar ridiculous ones that you can find in Tanzania with the common R and L mixups.  I’m waiting for Mama Nulu to come help with washing clothes, she was supposed to be here at 8.  I talk to my friend Greta on the phone who is in Iringa teaching at a Peace Corps training for the first year health and environment volunteers.  I start to clean up the house, and Mama Nulu comes at 10am, just when I’m planning on leaving for the Village Council meeting.  I hang around a bit and just give Mama Nulu my clothes to wash at her house and she can bring them buy tomorrow.  She does such a better job at washing clothes by hand than I do, and it’s been nice having her help.  Cheri and Richard Romano gave me some money when I came back for Christmas, and I’m using it to help Mama Nulu and her daughter go to Dar so that Nulu can get surgery on her hand.  After a severe burn incident in July in which her entire hand and back caught on fire when she stood too close to the fire in the kitchen, her hand became severly disfigured.  I took them to the hospital in September to get it looked at again and they said unless she got surgery to correct the bone disfiguration her fingers would grow backwards and she’d most likely have to get her arm amputated.  Nulu is only 3, so if she goes to Muhimbili Hospital in Dar she can get free treatment, but the cost of getting there and food during the stay is what makes this trip impossible without some help.  So in exchange for the money Mama Nulu is helping me around the house; which works out well for everyone.  My laundry frequency is now up to once a week as opposed to once every two months.  DSCN4768

I walk up the hill with Mama Nulu and Nulu (pictured—>) and head to the Village Council meeting with the purpose of talking about the water situation in Ilembo. And that’s where I am now as I’m writing this by hand.  It’s after 12 and everyone is still rambling on about various village issues, mostly in Kimalila (local language).  There are the issues of farm thefts, secondary school classroom building, etc.. It’s a good time to write, because everyone thinks I’m taking notes but really I’m half listening because this meeting goes on forever.  The reason I’m here is because I met with the District Water Engineer and other water engineers when I was in town last weekend, and was able to get a map of the water stations that were built in the early 1980’s in Ilembo by the government.  All of them stopped working in the mid 1990’s and were built without any coordinator or consideration of the villagers. The pumps are reliant on a water tank and pump that is powered by a diesel generator.  Now, over twenty years later, the population has grown exponentially and none of these water stations are functioning.  Everyone gets their water from the rivers.  4000 people getting water from the river means it’s not clean or reliable.  So I got th engineer to come out here and talk to the Village Council.  He advised them to start a proper water committee and open an account and collect donations from the village.  Ilembo wants water from the mountain which is propelled by gravity.  The District engineers have already tested Ilembo and four other villages for the gravity water project.  The biggest obstacle towards completing the project is the lack of communication between the water committee and the district engineers.  So I’m trying to improve that communication and encouraging the Ilembo Water Committee to take initiative and be prepared. 

12:45pm..they’re still talking about problems with building the secondary school classrooms.  Raha is laying down in the middle of the room and providing comic relief to everyone since most dogs are aggressive and afraid of people, while Raha just hangs out and licks everyone.  i hope this meeting starts to move along, because I’m doing a training later with my all star counterpart Nahasibu.  We did one last Thursday on Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV. I paid for a liter of petrol to run the village councillor’s generator.  He has a beer hall that at night shows soccer games for paying customers, but now on Thursdays is a health education venue that shows educational videos and we facilitate discussions.  It’s a ghetto VHS player and TV but it gets the job done.  Moshi, the clinical officer, was able to answer a lot of questions about the biology of HIV/AIDS and how ARV therapy works.  The participants asked great questions and we ended up having about a 3 hour discussion about risk behavior and how we can avoid putting ourselves at risk to STIs and HIV.  Secondary school students, the widows group, out of school youth, teachers, and many other vilagers all attended.  There were about 70 people.  I think the videos are boring but since no one here ever gets to see anything on TV, they LOVE it!  It’s a relief to be able to show a movie and to have a counterpart who speaks the tribal language, because then the barriers of communication are broken down and  I’m sure that people have understood.  

2pm- Do my part in the meeting and then head out to make advertisements about today’s seminar.  We’ll be doing male and female condom demonstrations on the wooden penis model and Nahasibu himself constructed.  Go to buy petrol for generator. On way I pass the Baptist church and see an mzungu, an Austrian woman named Gitte who works with SIL, translating the Bible and other literature into Kimalila.  They’re doing a seminar at the church today at tomorrow, so I invite Gitte, her husband Thomas and a British women, Jo, over to my house for dinner.

3pm- Wait for people to show up. Since I advertised it to start at 3 I expect that the majority of people will show up between 4:30 and 5.  This is the Tanzanian way.  In the meantime, Nahasibu is drawing on the flip chart pictures and instructions of how to use a male condom. 

4:30pm- Majority of people have arrived, and we talk again about the types of STIs and their symptoms, and then we go back to prevention.  Nahasibu demonstrates putting a condom on the penis model and then we get volunteers to come up and do it.  Uzia, one of the girls who attended the girl’s empowerment conference last year and is a peer educator, came up and did it, teaching as she went.  DSC03146 DSC03140

After several hours of condoms and family planning education, we have to finish at 7pm because the Diwani Patrick, owner of the beer hall, has arrived and they need to turn on the soccer match.  So we all vow to try to show up earlier next week so that we can watch the video about a widow and her family who lose all their property because the husband didn’t write a will and so his family came after the mourning period and kicked the wife and her children out.  This happens a lot here, so we’re trying to get people to do living wills to try to prevent the loss of farms and homes with widow headed households. 

7:15- Go to the market and buy a kilo of flour and 4 avocados so I can make tortillas and guacamole for my SIL Bible Translating friends.  I also still have that leftover cinnamon roll dough so we should be good.  I thought the Tanzanian staff were coming too so I bought soda.  Turns out they already had ordered food so the soda went untouched at my house.  Thomas, Gitte and Jo were really interesting people and it was fun hosting guests for dinner in my home.  They had brought some soups in packets so we had that and then enjoyed the guac and tortillas.  They had never seen an oven made with on a charcoal jiko so I think they were shocked when the cinnamon rolls came out and tasted delicious.  All in all, I was coming off as a pretty good host.  As long as they didn’t need to use my bathroom, I was in good shape. They left at 10pm, and I went straight to sleep.

Friday, January 29, 2010

7am- Stephano, the chairperson of th OVC Committee, comes over and I help him organize the Most Vulnerable Children data in a book we received from the ministry of health and social welfare.  It’s pretty technical and not very user friendly, so we go back to using the Child Status Index that is easier to understand.. Basically you use a rubric to assess the needs in the various sectors of a child’s life: Education, health, shelter, food, legal, etc.  He goes on his way up to the market since it’s mnada day, or the day where everrrrryone in the Umalila region comes to buy and sell and just hang out.  I tend to try to avoid the mnada days, except to run up and buy pineapples and mangoes on the cheap, because there are usually a lot of drunk people and I hate it when drunk Tanzanians scream ‘MZUNGU’ and try to grab and talk to you.  So I designated today as a house cleaning day.

8am- Mama Nulu comes over and helps me clean out the weeds from my courtyard.  During the rainy season the weeds grow to be many feet high in just a matter of a few days.  It’s crazy.  So in order to navigate through my courtyard it helps to just take a jembe and clear everything out.  It’s raining while this is going on, and I give Mama Nulu and Nulu a taste of the leftover cinnamon rolls…great success!!

9am – Nahasibu comes over to plan out tomorrow—We were invited by a PLWHA Group (People Living with HIV/AIDS) in the neighboring village of Ruanda to come and do a seminar on Saturday.  I’m really looking forward to it because Ilembo has yet to start up its own group, and I’ve worked with the group from Ruanda in the past.  They are very motivated and have done a lot to reduce stigma in their village.  Ilembo is much bigger than Ruanda and as a result people are afraid to join a group for fear of being discriminated and stigmatized.  I’m hoping that before I leave there will be a PLWHA support group established in Ilembo.  We decide we’ll leave for Ruanda at 7am tomorrow and then walk the 2 hours it takes to get there.

Rest of day – Cleaning, cooking, and organizing.  I take a hot bucket bath and then keep the charcoal going so I can boil a bunch of water and stock up on drinking water.  At least in the rainy season i can catch water in buckets outside…makes life so much easier!  I tackle cleaning the choo and outdoor area..there’s some termites that are building up castles on the wooden doors so I knock them down.  Start to organize stuff my parents had brought with them, like medicine and band aids, antibiotic ointment, throat lozenges, and other pain relief meds, because I’m going to be giving the PLWHA Group a first aid kit and training on how to use all the stuff in the kit, along with a Kiswahili translated version of Where There is No Doctor. 

7pm – Bag up all the medicines and get ready for bed. It’s been a long week and tomorrow is going to be a long day as well.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

6:30am- Wake up and get my stuff together.  I might try to hike from Ruanda to a neighboring PCV’s site in Tukuyu, so I bring my computer and other work to get done in town in case I get there.

7-8:15 – Waiting for Nahasibu to arrive.  He’s running late, so we’ll have to try to catch a lorie going towards Ruanda or else we’ll get there extremely late.

8:30- Nahasibu shows up, we start heading up the hill towards the lories.  Luckily, one is about to leave, so we hop on it and get to Ruanda within 15 minutes. 

9am-3pm: Have a great seminar with the group.  Discuss STI’s, do male and female condom demonstrations and each member of the group has to stand up and teach the rest of them.  Talk about the importance of preventing infections when living with HIV, and do a training on First Aid and Home Based Care, stressing importance of protecting oneself and others when taking care of a patient. We’re fed ugali and chicken as the rain comes down at 1:30pm, then head to an outside pavillion where a TV and vcr has been procured, and I throw a thousand shillings towards some petrol.  We show a video called “Tuvunje Ukimya” or “let’s break the silence”, which follows the lives of three health care workers who are HIV positive.  It brings up good discussions of ARVs, stigma and discrimination, and the benefits of having a support group.  There are a few really great participants in the PLWHA Group, one of them being the mama who is wearing the sweet grizzly bear sweatshirt, reminds me of our old lax assistant coach, Brian, who always wore the wolf shirts:

DSC03199  male condom demoDSC03211 watching the video outsideDSC03208 showing how to use a female condom correctly.

Overall, it was a really productive day and I’m excited to work with the group again.  They are going to come to Ilembo for one of our Thursday seminars and try to motivate HIV positive people at Counseling and Treatment Clinic to start a group.  They are a great example of people living positively with HIV/AIDS and the benefits of adhering to ARV therapy.

3pm- Stand out on the road for 5 minutes to see if I can get a ride down the back road towards Tukuyu….

3:05pm- Success! Daudi, the District Agricultural officer who came out to Ilembo to do a pig and chicken training for my groups, is in the car and there’s room.  They take me to Isangati where I then hop on the back of Lorie that goes down the mountain to Kiwira.  It takes only a couple of hours, and then I get on a dalla dalla going to Tukuyu and arrive at a new education volunteer, Andrew’s site.  There are about four of us from the nearby area and we play poker using bottle caps as chips.  We make three big pizzas and end up having a really relaxing night, complete with watching the movie Role Models on my computer.  This was a nice, light end to a pretty heavy day..But that’s the only way I can balance out stuff here. In the morning, I can be motivating a group of 15 people all living with HIV, and in the evening, I am able to unwind and play some poker.  I was glad that I was able to get a lift so late in the day. 

Sunday, January 31, 2010 (new month’s eve!)

12pm- Head to Mbeya town so I can use the internet and type up these blogs.  I’ve also got to deliver some letters to Kihumbe Group so we can do another HIV testing day in Ilembo, and hopefully in Ruanda too. 

4pm- Use the internet modem of a friend in town so I can skype for the first time on my computer!! I was able to see addy, luca and jonah playing operation and also talk to my mom and dad and to dos and matt about the possibility of them coming out here!. Although this is delaying me actually writing my blog I’m so excited to be able to see everyone on video. 

10pm- Gchatting still ( i love having this modem and electricity) and writing the blog.  I’ve gotta head back to Ilembo tomorrow but hopefully I can be productive until I leave. Meeting with the water committee tomorrow and going to be visiting more orphans and vulnerable children on Wednesday in some of the other subvillages.  The foundation for the new youth center has already been dug, and Stephano and the treasurer, Suzana Bahati, are going to town on Monday to purchase cement. The pictures of the foundation and the future site of the school are below. Thanks to everyone who has helped the Mary Ryan Foundation.  These children now have access to opportunities that they would not have been able to have without your support!!

Well, hope you enjoyed this week’s binge of Meeshloaf..I’ll try not to leave so much time between helpings. Miss and love you all!

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DSC03108 foundation for the new out of school and vulnerable children youth center

1 comment:

Ingrid said...

My name is Ingrid and I work at Hesperian www.hesperian.org, publishers of Where There Is No Doctor. Your photographs are lovely! We're thrilled that you are using one of our translations. If you have any stories about how you've used the book in your work, we would love to hear them.

I was in the Peace Corps in China in 1993. It was the most amazing experience I've ever had in my life.

ingrid@hesperian.org