Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nov 15: Christmas in November at the preschool

We've had a fabulous couple of days.  We set up a preschool for the little ones that follow us everywhere we go.  The resource center was full of coloring books and crayons that no one seemed to be aware of so we set up different tables in the freshly painted room and introduced the kids to watercolor paints and coloring pencils and pastels.  They kids sat at the tables and were absorbed for hours!  Andrew and Matthew showed them how to put together k'nex and Tony introduced them to jigsaw puzzles.  The puzzles were such a foreign concept to them.  It was definitely a test of patience for him.  Sarah and I were busy handing out fresh coloring pages....some of the kids finished at least 10 of them.  I think it felt a bit like Christmas for them. 

The day before Tony (our Team Leader) and I went to visit Stumai - the woman in the wheelchair at the edge of the village.  We wheeled her into the shade and read her a few stories through Omari who translated for us.  The best part was when one of the Masai men came over to listen to `Wwombat Stew'. 

We managed to get into the school today and hand out all the wooden cars that Terry Shupe (a local volunteer) had made and donated to DWC.  Together with our toothbrushes, I think we had enough treats for everyone in the school.  Each class sang the anthem for us and one of them sang a version of `If you're happy and you know it.'  We were the most surprised by the enthusiasm of the class that were given balloons and a pencil.  Note to time pack more balloons.  They are light, fun and easy to pack. 

We're hoping to set up the preschool again tomorrow.  The kids, mine included, love all the interaction. Andrew comes home filthy every afternoon from all of his flipping and frisbee games. 

Time for dinner.


Karen Klassen
DWC Participant
Tanzania, November 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Nov 9: Fun times at the Elementary School

It’s Friday and we’re delighted to take the weekend off, just in time for a break because we thought it couldn’t get any hotter and today it was.  It rained in the morning which helped the sauna like conditions today. 

We went into the elementary school this morning and visited 2 of the classrooms. I gave them a tooth brushing demo which was quite fun. The classroom was an airless dreary concrete room and the sweat just dribbled down the back of our legs while I told the kids to pretend the toothbrush was a train and the teeth were the tracks. I sounded like a complete fool while I was imitating the sounds of a train riding the tracks. 
The kids were quite taken by Matthew’s braces so I explained what the they were and why he had them.  They had never seen anything quite like them before.  Our Team Leader, Tony asked them how old they thought he was and they decided that he was probably 40!  Tony was really delighted with that answer. 

A couple of the girls showed us one of their clapping games and Sarah and I tried to demo a couple of clapping rhythms but I couldn’t keep up with the speed.  Andrew has his own following and the local boys would like Andrew how to teach them to do back flips off the trees.  While Matthew is king of Frisbee games with the kids.

My battery is down to 10 percent so I’ll sign off for now. Cheers!

Karen Klassen
DWC Participant
Tanzania, November 2012

Nov 9: End of our first week

Today, being Friday, we are off to the school to meet with the students. We hope to be able to distribute the tooth paste and brushes we brought with us. Sarah has volunteered to act as a demonstrator.  Rob and Matthew have been the carpenters of the group applying mozzie screens to windows of the computer area.
The idea is to get some of the adults to come in at night as well for a demonstration on hygiene. But, with the lights on so come the bugs which may discourage some from attending the sessions that are planned for them.

Seems as though the Massi herdsmen are planning to get new grass for their animals and have been actively burning areas around Kisampa (our camp/accommodations) much to the owner Richard's disgust. Kisampa is a conservation area and as such they should not even been on the property with their cows. He chased one herd off by firing his revolver into the air the other day! Anyway it looks like the Massi may get their wish of new grass as we awoke to rain this morning.

Tony Dufficy
DWC Team Leader
Tanzania, November 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 7: "TIA" - this is Africa!

Today is hot, smoking hot.  I didn't think that we could smell worse today than we did yesterday, but alas it is true.  We all smell equally ghastly.  It's no wonder we don't see any animals.  We're chasing them away with our foul odor.  It's fantastic.  They only come out at night to make noise while we lie under our mosquito nets and I wonder if they will come in to eat us.  For all of my telling our daughter Sarah that all would be well, I'm the one a bit freaked out by the lack of walls in our banda.  Sarah has chased me out of my bed and sleeps beside her dad, Rod and I lie sleep in my own bed a few feet away.  On occasion, when the bush babies wake me at night, I ponder crawling into bed with the two of them.  Our sons are in their own bandas and are loving the adventure of having it all to themselves.  They woke this morning to find blue monkeys sipping out of the water dish set out to water the birds just a few feet away from their beds.

We've adopted the acronym `TIA' - This is Africa - for anything that seems foreign or backwards to us.  We set out to paint the resource center and library but were instructed not to use the new rollers that we brought, so we painted the entire thing with brushes.  This is incredibly difficult for our son Matthew who is very logic smart.  He has a more efficient way to do anything and is almost going mad doing it the African way.  My motto has always been, 'when in doubt or extremely frustrated, just laugh.'  There is much laughing that goes on daily! 

The children in the village are very taken with us and it's hard to describe what it's like to have them run up and grab our hands to walk along side us.  Sometimes, I have to divide my hand up into 5 fingers and each child gets one.  I get a bit annoyed when they hit each other to try to get as close as they can to us, but they are adorable and I want to put them each into my pocket and take them home with me.  Although, one small child must not have seen a white face before because I scared her into the arms of her mother, shrieking in horror. 

Andrew's face is covered with dust and his cheeks are super rosy.  He's been teaching the boys in the village to do flips off the trees.  They follow him around and cheer him on. 

We're all still working off our jet lag.  Sarah has missed dessert for 2 nights in a row because she keeps falling asleep at the table.  Something, I have never seen happen before!  We're getting a ridiculous amount of sleep at night and it feels glorious. 

Karen Klassen
DWC Participant
Tanzania, November 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 15: Shoping, touring and working alongside great company

Instead of taking the weekend off, we worked through it so today is a break day. Most of the gang has headed for a day adventure to a historic town, Bagamoyo for some shopping and touring. Tracey and I have stayed back for some peace and quiet and relaxation. The project is progressing well, with the wooden tables and benches are now coming together. We did some sanding and Corie, being the trooper was nailing the screen frames into the windows while we burst into a round of “I am woman, hear me roar”. She keeps the camp staff, locals, children and all of us laughing. We had a relaxing evening at the camp and walked Corie through “The Passion Test” to get clear on her top 5 passions – a fun process. Lauren is next! Yesterday, we walked to a beautiful spot on the river – a shallow area where we are less likely to encounter crocodiles. Having said that, it is the same river we toured closer to the opening to the Indian Ocean and saw a rather large crock enter the water. We enjoyed beverages with other guests that visited Kisampa. They are working on a solar power project, so we met Fabio, the master mind and Peter, the head of Tanzania energy as well as a potential investor from New York. We then enjoyed appetizers, a fabulous lasagna dinner followed by mud pie – wonderful! We will have two more days in the village before a brief holiday in Zanzibar during their Ramadan. Many of the Muslim staff have been fasting from sunrise to sunset for a month ending on the 20th. We also had a special invitation to the home of a beautiful Masai Justine and her wonderful mother and family to celebrate a special holiday with them. The local people have been so wonderful and friendly and very gracious hosts.

Tomorrow we will bring our gifts to the school for the children. Bev gave Jeanann and Richard (DWC's host partner contacts) 300 eyeglasses which they found a wonderful home for in Dar es Salam. We have also been able to make some fabulous purchases in the village. Bev had a dress made and a mat of straw. There is also a lot of beautiful jewellery and I purchased a dress with an African bead necklace sewn into the neckline. We walk to lunch daily, often with several children at had – sometime one per finger. They serenaded us with some of their songs including their National anthem for Tanzania. The government has been particularly successful in uniting the country of many tribes and faiths. Making English the official language has been part of that success. Borie explained that they have very little crime in the village because everyone knows each other – so this transparency keeps problems to a minimum.

It has been a precious time and experience to be here….more to come…

Edye St.Hill
DWC Team Leader
Tanzania, August 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 11: National Park game drive, painting and the lovely children

Hi Fans, Friends, and Family of DWC – it’s Corie again!

We had a day off yesterday and went through the National Park. First off, we went to do a river cruise down the Wami river. We saw heaps of hippos – one rather aggressive Daddy hippo that I was quite content to stay clear from. We also saw a BIG crocodile on the shore and I was brave until we got close and then when he came into the water pointed in our direction, I screamed like a girl. We also saw all kinds of birds – eagles, kingfishers, and other names I cannot possibly remember. Then we headed to the village of Sadaani to pay our park fees and have a little refreshing rest break (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). Some secrets stay on the road! Then we headed to the beach for a picnic lunch and some sun and sand in the Indian Ocean. Some of the ladies went into the ocean – I got my feet wet but that’s it for me. We packed up at the beach and headed through the park on a game drive. We managed to see a few animals – monkeys and baboons, lots of reedbucks, some heartbeasts, and one incredible giraffe that the amazing Bev spotted! We got back to Kisampa at 6 pm – too late for me to teach my daily yoga class but just in time for our drink o’clock!

Today we worked with some oil based royal blue paint. We did the lower half of the outside walls to make them more weather proofed. We also painted the window frames – this was tedious, careful, slower work so we were not finished the first coat until just about lunch time. I did head over to the library to play with some children – I started a couple days ago playing an alphabet game with some of the children and today there was a few of those kids and a bunch more but they already knew the game. There is an alphabet puzzle like ‘A’ and an apple picture go together etc. and once the pieces are together in the middle of our circle, I have them hold up their magic finger. Then I say “Where is the M?” and if they need a hint, I identify the picture that goes with the letter. Then whoever finds the correct letter gets the letter/picture cards. Then at the end they have to count all the cards they have in English - simple but effective and catchy. After lunch we were again done for the day. I could get too used to this practice of being done after lunch and going home for siesta.

However, leaving town the rag-a-muffin children seem to find it entertaining to chase our vehicle out of town – as well as grabbing on to the back of the vehicle. This bothers me so my teacher voice comes out and I yell “Hapana simama!” Then a town man really stopped them by chasing them off with a stick – that works too. The kids then ran to the other side of town to wave us off as our vehicle came round. We then stopped again at the local Maasi compound. The ladies there make some lovely jewellery so we popped in for some of our ladies to pick up some trinkets they ordered from Mama Justine. Mama Justine is absolutely stunning! Her prices for jewels are a little steep but she does not have much competition!

So we seven ladies now have the camp to ourselves for the weekend. Two of our party have departed (Irene and Frank have gone to another camp for the week). As well, our host/hostess Richard and Jeanann have taken Jacqui and the children into Dar as she and the children are off to Holland for the upcoming school year. This leaves Bori in charge of us 7 ‘cheezie’ ladies (and cheezie means CRAZY here! – so how fitting!) So look out Bori – when the Rooster and Hen are away – the chicks will play!

Corie McRae
DWC Participant
Tanzania, August 2012

August 9: Project is progressing and we are enjoying ourselves!

We are enjoying another fabulous day. The project is progressing well with most of the interior and the exterior painting complete for the resource centre. The kids are already beginning to use the laptops. Today we were visited by the Executive Officer of Matipwili and 4 other neighbouring villages. He very graciously introduced himself to each of us, welcomed and thanked us for our work and contributions.

Frankie and Irene, are friends that are helping with the accounting at Kisampa on a volunteer basis so they are staying with us too. Frankie brought 3 soccer balls and started a great game with almost 30 kids playing soccer outside the resource centre. The Executive Officer requested one of the balls for a neighboring village which we were pleased to give him. The children all gathered and sang the Tanzanian national anthem for us.

This is a particularly special trip for me, since I first visited Kisampa and Matipwilli as part of an economic development global business project with Queen’s University Executive MBA program in Sept. 2004. To be returning as a team lead for DWC is a dream come true. The village has come a long way, recently with the help of 3 previous DWC projects. I love that Nick Foster, another team lead, who has led many trips to Rwanda and recently Uganda, often takes people from his company, Softchoice to participate in these projects - what a great way to connect and build team loyalty. I met the people from DWC at a business conference called “Doing Well by doing Good”. It is an amazing way to build connections and company loyalty and I hope to be leading this type of trip in the future.

Another amazing moment was when our Corie, a special ed teacher in our group, taught a hearing and speech impaired child, Juma to speak his name. She placed his hand on her throat to feel the vibration and had him watch her lips closely and he was able to speak his name – very exciting! He is also learning sign language and connecting the dots very well. He is a lively acrobatic child who our host will be driving in for an operation to stop his ear infections.

The ladies are all so much fun. Every day we make our way into the village in a Land Rover and at times have the feeling of being on a roller coaster. Kay, Loretta and Bev, always raise their hands in the air and add a "wheeee".....this does not seem to lose it's novelty - they have such great energy! We have had wonderful authentic African meals in the village for our lunch break as well as wonderful food at Kisampa.

I was also able to meet a child I sponsored for secondary school, “Ashura” – she is quite lovely and it was emotional to finally meet her face to face. Corie is leading the team in yoga again so I will sign off for the day! Hakuna Matada (no worries)!

Edye St.Hill
DWC Team Leader
Tanzania, August 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August 7, 2012: Our adventure begins!

It has been a fabulous trip so far – we are on day 3 and I’m happy to say we have an “adventurous” team! I love the saying by Tom Sawyer – “The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is attitude.” After a 2 hour flight delay before a 14 hour flight, plus a connection out of Addis Ababa, and then lost luggage the team was still in great spirits. We met our driver after obtaining visas and completing luggage claims and headed into the dusk for a trip into the Savannahs of Tanzania – through a national game park. We were the first to test the new bridge across the Wami River and a new route to Kisampa which is to be our home for 2 weeks. The bus driver and Salmini decided it was unsafe to go further by bus, so we were met up with a Land Rover trip for the rest of the way. We were then greeted with waving smiling faces at Kisampa and a beautifully set table outdoors beside a bonfire. They poured us our beverage of choice and we found ourselves in the most amazing moonlit and starlit setting imaginable with a fabulous meal and even more fabulous company.

Our hosts graciously gathered clothes since only Tracey received her luggage and Corie, who has just completed 4 weeks in Africa – 2 with DWC in Uganda and Rwanda with Nick Foster as team lead and 1 week on safari in the Serengeti and 1 week climbing successfully to the top of Kilimanjaro. We traveled to the village the next day and scoped out our project, greeted with many smiling faces and children following us. Our project is a resource centre that will allow all the village access to learn computers.

After returning and having our outdoor shower with an amazing view of the Savannah’s, Lauren and I were greeted with two dresses from Corie to wear to dinner. We also had a choice of a Sari that Kisampa provided. I will now pass it on to Corie so she can then lead the group in yoga before a beverage by the bonfire and dinner.

Hi all … I am feeling like an almost resident here in East Africa as it’s been over 4 weeks now I have been in various countries here. I have the airports and crossing the borders down to a science. So what have we done so far while here…

Well we are staying in an absolutely incredible location. The Kisampa Bush Retreat is incredible. The outdoor living spaces they have created here are simply blissful – google and check them out (Afrika Afrika Safaris then click on Kisampa Accomodations).

We have been bonding as a team – I gave away half my clothing the first/second day to members of our team as their luggage arrived much later than they did. Then on Monday we went into the village of Matipwilli to check it out. We soon had generated much interest in town and had many rag-a-muffin children following us around like we were the pied pipers. We ended up at the community resource center that is to be our work site for the week.

Edye St. Hill & Corie McRae
DWC Team Leader & Participant
Tanzania, August 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

Matipwilli, Tanzania: Our job is done!

Welcome to the new Tanzania kitchen range. This tough outdoor kitchen is built to withstand searing heat inside and outside it’s modern structure. It’s open air design and military grade cooker can accommodate up to 400 people.... Joking aside, there’s still a bit of tidying up to do but our job is done! School dinners won’t ever be the same again. I wonder what the first thing they’ll cook will be? Shame we won’t be here to line up with the other students to find out. It’s really difficult to put into words how I feel about being a part of this project. To build something that a community really needs, with the community, in a foreign country, learning to communicate, work and laugh along side each other has been an amazing experience. For now maybe it’s best just to say I’ve got the biggest smile on my face and a cold beer in my hand. Now where’s that beach..............

Matt Pettifer
DWC Participant
Tanzania, January 2012

Matipwilli, Tanzania: Books and school supplies for all!

I wish all of the students and parents in the Juniper Ridge Community could have been here when we shared the books and resources that were purchased with the money ($1000) you raised. The books are beautiful! There are many titles set in Africa, stories of African children with African names globes, maps, games and much more. The book the young children were most excited about was the book that Ms. Alonzo put together with pictures of all of the classes. The children here were clamoring to take a look at the pictures of you. I am sure it will be taken out of the library until it is tattered and torn. They liked looking at the classrooms and at the playground and at our library. Your actions made a huge difference to children half way around the world!

I visited the primary school and it was really different from our school. There were 8 classes from Kindergarten to grade 7, but there were only 5 teachers! The students worked quietly until the teacher came to their class. I think this may be something we could try at home. What do you think? The classes were large with about 50 students per class. Six students would share a bench and a desk that was a little larger than our desks. I was dismayed to see that the walls were bare. There were no pictures, no maps, no posters, no games..just bare walls. I think perhaps the humid weather means that materials do not last as long, but I was sad to see that the students had so little. It means that our donation is that much more important.

The students all wear uniforms and most stand up when they are answering or asking a question. They were quite surprised to hear that it is -30 degrees at home or colder. They also enjoyed hearing about wearing lots of layers of clothing during the winter and having to shovel snow. I really enjoyed my visit to their school.

Today we finished the building of the kitchen at the secondary school. It was much harder work than I anticipated, but I am thankful for all the help we received from the students at the secondary and primary schools.

Deep Pannu
DWC Participant
Tanzania, January 2012