I arrived in Kilimanjaro at about 8 pm on Monday night. I had the pleasant surprise of having 3 housemates greeting me when I got in, Jessica and Ruka who are students at Duke and Kyle who is interning with MAD for 6 months. Kate also returned from a side trip to Rwanda later on in the week.
On the first day we took a short walking tour of our neighborhood before starting our Kiswahili lessons with Emmanuel. I was struck by how much we stuck out and how surprised people seemed to be by 4 westerners (mzungus).
While the walk and the Kiswahili lessons were fun I could not wait to get to the orphanage to meet the kids. At about 4 pm we took the Dallah Dallah, which is Tanzania’s transportation system out to Himo where the orphanage is. The Dallah Dallah ride is an experience in itself, they are 12-15 seat passenger vans that are packed to the brim with 20 -25 people, the ride is definitely cozy. Once we got to Himo it was a short walk to the orphanage. Some of the kids were hesitant at first to introduce themselves or interact with me but after some introductions it was like we were old pals. Elliona was not timid at all around me. AS soon as I told him I knew a former volunteer and a good friend of his named Nina he wrapped me up in a big hug. The kids are definitely not shy about showing their affection. That first day we went to the nearby church to do some community service with the kids. We all got gardening tools and helped to prepare a garden for planting with some hard work and a little play, the garden was ready in about an hour. That first day Elliona taught me to count in Kiswahili and how to use a hoe. After that we walked the kids back to the orphanage and hopped back on the Dallah Dallah.
The next few days went the same as the first except that our main goal was to try and do some consistent reading with kids. I noticed right when we got there the library could use some updating. In the first 2 days of reading it was difficult for Jessica, Ruka, and myself to get some quality reading time in with all the kids. There is 14 of them and we usually only had about 90 minutes there. On the 3rd day we decided to try reading in groups and focusing on creating a vocabulary wall that the kids could add to and reference later on. The kids seemed to like the vocabulary activity and it was definitely easier for us to make sure we got some reading time in with all the kids. It also helped that Kate and Kyle came with us. At the end all the kids got to present a word that they had learned to the rest of the group. One of the older kids, Mwenda, assumed the role of student teacher and made sure everyone did a proper presentation.
The next day our group picked up Mwenda, Joseph, and Peter from the orphanage to take them to the their viallge so we could conduct som health surveys about HIV and Malaria. We told the people in the village we would be there at 9 am sand we expected them to show up late. However because they knew we were Mzungu they showed up on time and we were a few hours late so they had to gather everyone back after leaving. After about 20 minutes of talking about the survey the kids and I got bored and decided to go read and play outside, leaving the work to the two pre-med students, Ruka and Jessica. Playing outside with the boys and their village friends for about 3 hours was AWESOME. We read, I taught them how to dribble a basketball, and some silly American dances. By the time everything was done Theresa, Ruka, and Jessica had some good data and me the boys were dirty, tired, and hungry.
On Sunday all 14 of the kids came on a Dallah Dallah to Moshi so that they could come to the international school to learn how to play basketball. It was one of the few times they went somewhere as a whole group. They were all very excited to play. AAfter teaching them some basics we had some games of 3 on 3 and even one short game of 4 on 4. I absolutely loved being able to show them the game I love and grew up playing. Shabani, Upendo, Gifty , Innocent and Exuper really seemed to take to it. By the end of the day the basketball became a soccer ball and all but a few kids were playing on the open field right next to the courts.