David & Sara head to Tanzania,
The day after we arrived in Tanzania, I (David) had the wonderful opportunity of meeting the children at Kilimanjaro Kids Care (the orphanage that MAD supports in Himo,Tanzania). As we pulled up to the house in the big green safari van, the kids came running out with open arms yelling “Madam Sara”. The children, who only know me through Sara, were hugging and hanging off my every limb as we approached the house. Once inside, we sat in the common room of the orphanage and each child stood telling their name, age, and year of school. I could already tell this was a group full of intelligent, well spoken (English and Swahili), educated, respectful, thankful children. It’s simply impossible not to become attached to each and every one of them the minute you arrive. I’m looking forward to building some great bonds with some great children.
Since the moment we arrived on Monday June 13th I have loved Tanzania. Moshi (where the MAD guest house is located) sits in the foothills of Kilimanjaro. On clear days you can see it from the back yard. It doesn’t look real, it’s so huge you have to look up in the sky to see the snow capped mountaintop. The weather is beautiful, mild this time of year. It’s in the high 70’s during the day and gets a bit cooler in the evening. The house has a wonderful garden full of mostly cucumber, which we have fresh with every delicious meal. Pina, who started as the gardener manages the house. She takes care of everything we need, preparing every meal with a song and a smile, and makes sure that every guest feels right at home. She’s the weld that keeps the guest house running like a well oiled machine as volunteers come and go throughout the year.
The house is located about 40 minutes from downtown Moshi, this is walking of course. The market is full of everything you would ever need from fresh fruit and vegetables, to hand woven baskets and shoes. The market is outdoor and there is no refrigeration, which is not a bad thing, in fact it’s a great. Everything you buy is fresh, you simply tell the workers whether you want to the food for today or tomorrow, and they help you pick out exactly what you are looking for. Everywhere we go we hear people yelling “mzungu”, which means white person. Sara likes to respond by saying “wapi” which means where, as she looks around aimlessly. I find it to be hilarious and it usually gets a smile from the locals.
In the heart of Moshi is the Make A Difference office, this is where the wonderful Founder and Executive Director, Theresa Grant works just some of her magic. This is also one of the areas where I’m hoping I can help alleviate some of the work load. Theresa does an unbelievable job juggling multiple projects and leading by not only example, but also natural ability. You can’t possibly stop yourself from following her; and she never takes any credit for the successful completion of a project, when really she deserves it all. I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to work and learn from such an inspirational leader. I’ve been a sponge since I stepped off the plane, intently listening to her ideals at every chance. She’s Mamma Make A Difference.
The children are enthralled by any knowledge you are willing to share with them. So the fun of changing locks and knobs on some of the doors in the orphanage began. Shabani (right) and Gift (left) were right by my side, watching as I took multiple knobs apart and pieced them together, attempting to build at least one functioning lock. I explained as I worked, naming all the pieces as we disassembled and reassembled. It’s great for the children to know how to fix things around the orphanage; it expands their knowledge so that they can help in the future. It only took a few minutes before, both of the future engineers, had successfully pieced together and installed a knob (that locks!!!) on the library door. We then continued to walk around the house, identifying small things that could use fixing. We replaced some light bulbs, learned how to put windows back on their hinges, and counted the glass pains that need replacing. Theresa then hired a fundi (Swahili for worker), to come work on some glitches in the solar that the orphanage is so thankful to have.
Last night was a big night for Kilimanjaro Kids Care, the children competed for prizes in the first ever Talent Night. Everyone seemed to be well prepared as the night began with a very well thought out drama/comedy act. Needless to say, these kids are unbelievably talented. There were dancers, drummers, comedians, scout group performances, gymnastics and football jugglers. All of which were indescribably impressive. The competition was stiff, and although prizes were given for the top three performances, everyone was a winner. The children’s personalities came pouring onto the stage (a slightly elevated cement slab) as the crowd cheered for every act. Smiling faces filled the backyard with nothing but pure happiness. We celebrated the success of the evening with field nuts (roasted peanuts), the only thing that would temporarily quiet the constant laughter of the children throughout the evening. Seeing children come out of their shells with no shame, embarrassment, or hesitation, to perform in front of essentially family, was a memory that I will never forget.