[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 19 most recent journal entries recorded in
|Sunday, May 20th, 2007|
|OK, So I owe you all a bag of fried termite queens!
Is it really May already? The rains have stopped and the nights are getting chilly so it must be.
Well, I am just getting back from my close of service conference. It was beautiful but sad. The conference is a time of preparation to return to the states but also a time to just be with the group and talk about the past two years. The conference was held at Momella Lodge in Arusha National Park between Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro. The lodge was built in the late 50's I think and the movie Hatari with John Wayne was filmed there. The lodge is amazing. Giraffe, monkeys, buffalo, water buck and lots of birds were just walking or flying around and they had hot showers and delicious food.
I'm heading back to the village tomorrow after being away for two weeks so I can't wait to see how far along they are with the dispensary. They should be finished with the walls which leaves the roof and floors. Also, I had 15 baby chicks hatch right before I left so hopefully they are all doing well. We aren't supposed to start any new projects in the last 3 months of service however we were able to get some funding for some small projects so I will get right to work on those when I get back to the village. We are starting a garden for a group of disabled villagers, refurbishing two classrooms at the school, and doing some work with the HIV/AIDS group that was started last year.
All for now. Talk to you soon.
|Friday, January 12th, 2007|
|Happy Halloween, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!!
First of all, SORRY I haven't posted an entry since October. Every time I use the computer I tell myself to post an entry and the next thing I know its January. Ok, Where do I begin?
You would think living in a village without the usual western time killers like T.V., internet, the gym, etc. would cause days to drag on but that's not the case at all. One day, you're finding out your Dad and brother have purchased their plane tickets to come visit and the next day you're telling them to eat a cheese fry and bloomin' onion for you as they board the plane to return stateside.
I have been really busy in the village and on top of that I've had 4 trips to Dar and a trip to Morogoro for seminars, 45th anniversary of Peace Corps, Volunteer advisory counsel meetings, and a wonderful visit by my Dad and brother.
The dispensary is moving along slowly but surely. I think we will be making some big steps in next couple months and hopefully it will be complete by the end of the rainy season in May. In October and November we had an 8 week seminar series for HIV/AIDS awareness and education. We met twice a week and had a really good turn-out. The villagers were very interested and once they felt comfortable talking about HIV/AIDS they opened up and had great discussions and lots of questions.
Coming up in the next couple months the village wants to do a gardening project with village orphans and some classroom renovations. I'll let you know more as the projects start rolling.
I'm going to go ahead and guarantee I will not take as long to post my next entry as it took me to post this one. If I fail to keep this promise I will owe you all some kumbikumbi (fried termite queens)which are actually quite delicious.
Talk to you all soon!
|Tuesday, October 10th, 2006|
|The Joys of Domestication
So, I have two dogs. The older of the two was the previous volunteer's named Z and the younger I got as a puppy named Tenzin. Tenzin learned everything from Z and they have both been very well behaved.
Recently however, Tenzin has hit the age where he started liking girls and spends the night wandering around the village. This wouldn't be so bad except during this time he also enjoys eating the villager's chickens. My guard and I came up with a plan to cure Tenzin of his chicken cravings. So, I went out and bought two chickens to keep at the house so Tenzin could get used to them. He left the chickens alone and I thought he was cured until the next morning he showed up at the door with another chicken from the village. We decided to make a new plan.
Yesterday, a villager in a 50 cent t-shirt came to the house with my guard and said "I am here to neuter Tenzin. I need a rope, a razor blade and some salt" Amazingly, the surgery went quite well and after a short nap Tenzin was up and about. Hopefully that will stop him from wandering the village. As for the chicken problem, I think Tenzin likes the baby chickens so I'm going to get some smaller chickens to have around the house. We'll see how it goes.
Also, I don't know if any of you have ever thought about raising chickens but it is very easy and quite entertaining.
|Sunday, September 24th, 2006|
The grant for the Medical Dispensary we are going to build in my village is finally on-line. This is a Partnership grant which uses money donated to the grant instead of money directly from peace corps. If you are interested in donating or just want to check it out, go to www.peacecorps.gov. Next, click on "Donate now" on the left hand side of the screen. Click on "Volunteer Projects" and scroll down to Tanzania. My grant is under "Medical Dispensary".
Thanks a lot and talk to you all soon.
|Thursday, September 14th, 2006|
|Habari za siku nyingi
I hope everything has been going well for the past month or so. Things here are wonderful. The first few weeks of August I got a lot of work done with the bee and fish projects. At the end of August my friend Emily from college came to visit. She has been here for over three weeks and we have had an awesome time.
The first part of the trip we went to Zanzibar. The beaches and towns of Zanzibar are amazing. You can basically point a camera in any direction anywhere on the island and have yourself a postcard. We spent a couple days relaxing on the beach, then the last day we spent in stone town doing some shopping and walking around "the maze". After Zanzibar we went to the village. Here is an email my friend wrote that sums up the last couple weeks pretty well:
I am finally back in an area with Internet! Chris and I came to Iringa this morning in preparation for the safari. Things have been amazing! We were in the village for almost 2 weeks. It has been an incredible experience. Here are a few highlights.
First of all, we left Iringa on this bus called a dala dala. I guess these buses are a main source of transportation. The bus was in poor condition. In fact, the seat I had was partially caved in. Anyway, we started out on the 1.5 hour bus ride with plenty of room, but as the trip progressed, there were more and more Tanzanians shoved in. Chris was the most irritable that I've ever seen him. It wasn't so bad for me because I had a window seat, but it was pretty uncomfortable. Just a heads up to anyone who plans on travelling to Tanzania: if you're on a bus/boat/car and you think it's full, be prepared to have an unreasonable amount of extra people shoved in. Regardless of the bus situation, we made it to Chris' village, Maduma.
The first full day in the village was incredible. We were invited to a wedding during a morning walk around town. I, being a huge dork, had written down phrases and greetings in Swahili and tribal language so that I could greet the villagers. I brought this little notepad around with me. When we got to the wedding, everyone took turns looking at what I had written down and had me saying the same things over and over again. Chris explained that I was his sister (as to avoid the misconception that we were married) and one person actually said that we "look very much alike". I can only assume that they never see white or Asian people.
Chris and I then headed to an eating/drinking hut. They passed me this cup and I almost took a sip of it until it was pointed out that the cup was to pour water for hand washing. I'm glad that the guy stopped me because that would have been the sickest drink ever. They were passing around a big bowl of ugali. Ugali is made of corn flour and water. It is eaten at almost every meal. It looks like mashed potatoes, but is much thicker. It has virtually no taste and is incredibly filling. So...they passed around the bowl of ugali and a bowl of beans. I took a big hunk of ugali (with my hands because you eat everyone community and with your hands) and dipped it in the beans. That turned out to be a huge mistake because the tasteless ugali sat in my mouth like paste and I couldn't bring myself to swallow it. Chris told me that I should take more beans and smaller amounts of ugali because man oh man, did I think I was going to puke! At this point in my travels, I have eaten ugali several times and I actually sort of like it. I also took a sip of a large cup being passed around that was full of local booze. It is made from fermented corn. As I drank the room-temperature corn booze, Chris said to me "and that is how you get giarrdia".
We then went to the dancing hut. It was awesome. A bunch of villagers were singing and dancing in this small room. They even sang a song to welcome me. All in all, the wedding was a wonderful experience and a great introduction to the village.
That night we went to the Kilabunis (local bar-like establishments that have wooden benches, a fire pit inside, one type of beer, soda, and local booze). I got to meet some more villagers, which was hilarious because they were all drunk and trying to talk to me either in Swahili or broken English...both of which I could not understand.
I had my first experiencing getting water on Thursday. Chris usually gets water with his bike, but he was missing his bike in the village, so he had to carry it. He kept complaining that it was "so heavy" and I totally didn't believe him, so I obviously called him a huge sissy. Then...I went with him to get water. The buckets weigh about 40 pounds each. They are "so heavy" and I am pretty much the weakest person in the world. Chris carried the buckets almost the entire way. The kicker is that little girls, probably 8 or 9 years old, can carry full buckets on their heads with no problems what so ever.
We also went to the school on Thursday. The school is just down the road from Chris' house. There are about 400 students there and I think almost every one of them were staring at us as we made our way to the head teachers office. They are fascinated by village visitors. It was decided that the students would put on a little concert to welcome me in the village the following week.
I met the little girls who come over to Chris' house to play and listen to music. They are so funny. One of the girls talks a mile a minute, and even though it was in Swahili, I could tell that she was the bossiest and feistiest little girl ever. She has the most classic case of ADHD I have ever seen.
Another peace corps volunteer, named Lizzie, lives in a village about 4 km away from Chris. We went to her house on Friday because another one of Chris' friends was staying there. We made mac and cheese, read people magazine, and did cross word puzzles. It was definitely an American evening.
Chris installed a solar panel system at his house. It powers a two batteries, which in turn power a stereo and dvd player. He has mostly kept his solar electricity a secret, but some of the villagers found out about it. In one day 4 people came over to ask if they could use it to charge their cell phones. I thought it was awesome because I got to meet more people, but it sort of annoyed Chris. Unfortunately, a few days ago there was super strong wind and it knocked his panels off of his roof and the solar is now "busted". We are looking for solar panels in Iringa today, so hopefully we can get this "system" up and running again.
Chris' counterpart is a guy named Taulin. He is like a cartoon character. Seriously...he talks, walks, runs, and eats just like a cartoon. He speaks some English and was very welcoming the entire time I was in the village. Taulin invited us to his church for Sunday service. Chris looks at me and says "Do you want to go to his church?". I quickly respond "What? Do you?". By this time, it is clear that the only appropriate response to the church invitation is "yes". After Taulin left, Chris told me that Taulin is Pentecostal. In Tanzania, this means that church services are sort of an all day event.
The church service was ridiculous. They had Chris and I sit in "special" seats at the front of the church, sort of facing the congregation. There was an obscene amount of crying/sobbing/wailing etc. and praying in Swahili. The good news was that there was a lot of music in the service as well. They performed several call and response songs, which were entertaining. They also had a kids get up and do a song. After the service, we waited for Taulin, who had some "official" church business to take care of. I was taking some pictures and suddenly, there were 35 Tanzanians standing in a clump trying to get in the picture. It was so funny because they move to get in the picture then they don't smile, look at the camera, or stand affectionately with anyone in the picture. Very bizarre. Anyway, from then on, I was the "camera lady". We were even asked to come to this woman's house to take a picture of her in front of it.
After all the pictures were taken, we headed to Taulin's brother's house for lunch. His brother is the pastor of the church. We had a lunch of ugali and cabbage, which was pretty good. Then everyone got up and we walked over to Taulin's house. Apparently, they had planned another lunch..directly after the first one...that we were expected at. This was completely unexpected and unnecessary because we were both really full from lunch number 1. You would think that they would say something along the lines of "Hey...don't fill up here because we have another ENTIRE lunch for you guys", but I guess they didn't think it was important. Anyway, the food was good and the day was quite the experience.
By the way, the pastor is looking for a Pentecostal church in the US to sponsor them. He would like money to help orphans, build an educational fund, and buy instruments for the church. If anyone knows of a church that might be interested, please email me.
On the way back, we stopped at Blastos' house. Blastos is the guy who stays at Chris' house and takes care of his dogs when he is out of town. He is the most awesome person I met in the village next to his wife, who is even more awesome. Blastos is so hard core. I got the impression that Blastos could kill a lion, cut down 5 trees, birth a goat, and drink a case of beer all before lunch. Anyway, we stopped by to drink some local booze. Nothing caps off a day at a Pentecostal church better than getting drunk off of fermented corn. Blastos' wife is also amazing. She is incredibly kind and generous. She has 7 kids and you can tell that she is the best mom ever. We headed to the Kilabunis after Blastos'. They were out of most kinds of alcohol, so Chris orders this stuff. It was milk colored, warm, and smelled like a foot. As you can probably guess, it was soooooooo gross. Chris drink a liter of it.
The next day was labor day and Lizzie came over to Chris'. We made tuna salad and played Yahtzee. We also went to the school to see the welcome performance. It was amazing. There were 400 kids singing at the top of their lungs. They sang 4 or 5 songs. The songs were so cute. I have tons of adorable pictures!
Chris and I had joked around that I must be "healthy like a horse" because I didn't get sick off of the local booze or the food (both of which contain tons of bacterium that my bod is not used to). Of course, I got sick. I had some sort of stomach bug that kept me hovering over the toilet for around 24 hours. I was actually throwing up hard enough to cause a bloody nose. Luckily, I recovered just fine.
Chris held a seminar for the women of the village to teach them about nutrition. About 30 women showed up and they made jam, soup, and bread. They had rice and beans for lunch, which is pretty big deal because eating rice is quite rare. It was lots of fun and awesome to see Peace Corps in "action".
I left the seminar early because I didn't feel well. I couldn't get into Chris' front door because I forgot the combination to the lock. I did what any homeless person would do and crawled through the dog door into the courtyard to lay down on the ground. Seriously...I crawled through a dog door. I thought that that would be the most ridiculous event of the day, but I was wrong. About 15 minutes into my nap, Chris' dogs come running through the dog door. Something falls of out Tenzin's mouth and I see that it is a wing. Then, I see two legs on the other side of the dog door. There is a man standing on the other side of the door waving a dead chicken, entrails hanging out, back and forth, yelling something in swahili. I just made weird noises indicating that I was grossed out. He finally got frustrated talking to me and walked away. It turned out that the guy who was yelling at me through the dog door had witnessed Tenzin killing the chicken and wanted to get it to eat. Tenzin, apparently, developed a taste for chicken because he has killed another since the first incident.
We had some other adventures, but I'm pretty sure you've already stopped reading by now. The bottom line is that I'm having an amazing time. Chris is a wonderful host and very handsome (he made me write that). I hope everyone is doing well.
All for now. Talk to you all soon.
|Monday, July 31st, 2006|
|July in a nutshell
July was a busy month!
We had our Mid-Service Conference (MSC) in Dar followed by a week long Permaculture seminar. Then, after less than a week back at site we had some trainees from the new group come to our sites for a shadow visit.
The MSC was mostly just a medical check-up however, we did have a few sessions discussing the first year of service and suggestions for the new group. In the evenings we had the opportunity to enjoy Dar es Salaam and the many 'western' attractions it has to offer. There is a movie theater, small water park, good food, and even a Subway (sandwich shop not public transport). The public transport is small buses that they fill way beyond capacity. We spent the weekend at a beach called Kipepeo just outside of Dar.
The next week we had a seminar on bio-intensive gardening. It was extremely interesting and useful. We spent the first two days at the U.S. Embassy learning the techniques in one of the conference rooms and then spent two days starting a small garden and fixing some water issues at an orphanage near Dar.
This past week we had some shadowers come to our site to see how a volunteer lives. I think they were pleasantly surprised that life as a volunteer is much more than living in a mud hut with a straw roof and eating nothing but rice and beans. We cooked burritos, thai peanut sauce, grilled cheese, we listened to music, had a bonfire, and answered many many questions. They were all very excited to get done with training and get to their villages.
On top of all that I turned 24 this month. My Birthday was great with the exception of one small complication. While I was in Dar I had some villagers install my sit-down toilet. I returned home to find the toilet completely in the ground up to the rim. They just didn't understand the concept of sitting and figured I wanted to be able to squat.
All for now. Talk to you soon
|Monday, July 3rd, 2006|
|Hakuna matata, what a wonderful phrase
It was a good week for projects.
I should probably first try to explain the work ethic of Tanzania before I go any further. So, Tanzanians have mastered the art of going with the flow. The phrase 'hakuna matata' from that song in the lion king really does mean 'no worries' and if something breaks or starts late or isn't possible they just say hakuna matata and move on. For example, yesterday a peace corps volunteer was on a bus that broke down about a half hour from its destination. They couldn't get the bus fixed so everyone just spent the night on the bus. No one complained about how they had to be somewhere or that they wanted their money back. They just cuddled up with their neighbor and went to sleep.
Stuff like that happens all the time. Buses break down, meetings start 2 or 3 hours late, people make appointments then just do something else. Its just a very laid back culture. So when work does get accomplished its pretty exciting.
After standing the village up 4 times, the truck finally came to move stones to the dispensary site. The foundation has been dug and they are ready to start building. We are just waiting for the office in Washington D.C. to approve the grant. The wood for the bee hives is all cut and ready to be made into hives. A guy in my village agreed to build the hives for the equivalent of $1.50 per hive if the wood and nails were provided.
I also used the truck that brought the wood out to my village to transport the materials to fix my bathroom. I'm not sure if I wrote about my bathroom in another entry so I'll tell you about it now. At the moment it can't really be called a bathroom but rather a room with a hole in the floor. Termites have eaten the wood holding up the floor so that has started to cave in. Next week I start the renovations to fix it up. I got a bunch of re-bar and cement so I don't have to worry about termites or falling into the pit. Also, I bought a porcelain toilet and just chipped a whole out of the bottom of it (there's no running water so the flushing mechanism is out of the question). So starting in a few weeks there will be no more squatting for me.
OK, thats enough for now. Talk to you soon.
|Monday, June 19th, 2006|
|Get back to work!!
I said kwaheri (good bye) to my friend Mark after an awesome 2 week vacation. It was my first real vacation I have had since I got here so I lived like a vacationer instead of a volunteer.
We spent the first day relaxing in Dar and eating at some of the better restaurants. We went to a place called the red onion for dinner and my meal actually came out on a sizzling platter. It was delicious.
We then went to Tanga for a night and then to the Peponi resort south of Tanga. Peponi is a little resort with a private beach on the indian ocean. There are palm trees, exotic flowers, monkeys, nice bandas (huts with beds and a bathroom), and its all right on the beach. We went out for a day on the Peponi's dhow for snorkeling and to relax on a sandbar about a mile off shore.
After peponi we went to the Amani nature reserve which is a high elevation rain forest about an hour west of Tanga. We stayed with a volunteer working at the reserve and he took us on a good hike. The reserve has incredible biodiversity. We also bought some chickens and made chicken burritos.
From there we went to my site in mafinga so Mark could see my house and experience the village life. We spent some time at my guard's house and Mark got to try the staple food, ugali. The next day another unfortunate chicken was the main ingredient in some foil dinners. Mmmm!
After the village we did a day safari at Ruaha national park. I took a ton of digital pictures so hopefully there will be some pictures available soon. My Dad will be getting a copy of all of them so it may be easier for him to set up a way for everyone to view them.
Well, its time to get back to work in the village. Talk to you soon.
|Monday, May 22nd, 2006|
Things in the village are great. The dogs are healthy and the corn is growing tall. Also, I finally caught an 8 inch rat (14in including the tail) that has been picking through my stuff for the past week or so. The bait was a dried minnow with some of the food I make for my dogs on it. Who would have thought? The rat chose not to eat the good food I put on the trap like bread and peanut butter for the whole week.
My grants for the Bee project, and fish pond project were approved last week so the village is excited to start working on the bee hives and digging the fish ponds. We are doing 6 ponds that are 10m X 12m X 3m so they will hold a good amount of fish. Each pond will be stocked with 240 baby tilapia.
For the bee project we are doing 100 bee hives that will hopefully be built and hung in trees around the village by the end of June. Also, each member of the bee group will get a veiled hat and gloves (the gloves won't be veiled).
The dispensary has been approved by the Tanzania Peace Corps office but do to the nature of the grant (Partnership) it needs to also be approved in Washington D.C. Ill let you know how to donate to that project if you are interested as soon as it is approved.
The village soccer team was on a winning streak until Friday. They beat all of the teams in our ward and some teams in the neighboring ward. They had a match on Friday to determine who would hold the coveted "kombe ya mbuzi" (goat cup) but were defeated 7-0 by Kitelewasi. Maybe next year!
The next few months will be incredibly busy but incredibly fun. I have a friend coming to visit for the first 2 weeks of June and we have an excellent trip planned. We are going to hike in the high elevation rainforest in Amani, then go to the beach for some snorkeling and sun-soaking, then off to iringa to see my site and go on a safari at Ruaha National Park.
He flies out on the 15th and I start my week as PCV (peace corps volunteer) of the week for the new group of volunteers. I will spend a week answering all of their questions like "What do you eat?" or "How hard is it to learn Swahili?" and helping them get from Dar to their training sites in Morogoro. It will be a little strange because I still consider myself a new volunteer.
Then in July, I have mid-service conference for a week followed by a permaculture seminar for a week both in Dar es Salaam.
Then in August I have another friend coming for a few weeks.
Ok, I think this is the point where you start getting bored and stop reading so Ill end this entry here.
Take care and talk to you all soon!
|Tuesday, April 25th, 2006|
This entry is to tell you a little bit about the Tanzanian Postal service and to update everyone on small change to my address.
There are two kinds of mail services in TZ. First and most reliable is the Tanzanian mail service which works just like US mail. You put a stamp and an address on a letter and take it to the post office and mail it. I haven't received any mail from a Tanzanian using this method.
Tanzanians use the other mail service called "Bush Mail". This is not as reliable but it is free making it the service of choice by almost all villagers. The way it works is you write the name and village (and maybe some other info if you have it, like near the big tree in the market) and either put it on a bus or give it to someone going in that direction and hope it gets there. Surprisingly, it usually does get there.
Here are a couple examples of "bush mail" I have received:
This was a typed letter with my name and village written on the front.
MASSAGE TO ALL PCVS MUFINDI
PLEASE PLAN OF FOLLOWING FOR THE PLANED ACTIVITIES SEND TO GRAND GOORDINATOR OR MAMA MSECHU.
I haven't quite figured out what it means but I have an idea. The next letter I got had along with it an envelope addressed to a volunteer from 3 years ago in the states and at the end of the address in big capital letters it said TANZANIA. Here is what the letter that was with the envelope said.
Please dear sir: I request you to posted this letter for to Mr. Michael/Mrs. Turmola. The address I have mentioned. So the problem is to put the stamp. I will be thanks if you will accept me.
I thought you would enjoy those. As for my address, all the volunteers in my area use the same PO Box however a volunteer from Peace corps past lost the key so we use a cardboard box under the desk at the post office. They recently changed the lock for our PO box and sold it to someone else so my new address is:
Chris Brown (Peace Corps)
P.O. Box 369/Private bag
This way they will continue putting our mail into our box under the desk instead of giving it to the new owner of our actual address.
Spelling error disclaimer. I have a time limit at the computer cafe so I usually type fast and don't have time to spell check.
All for now. Talk to you soon.
|Monday, April 17th, 2006|
|Easter In Maduma
I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.
Easter here is a lot like easter in states but with a little twist of African tradition. Almost everyone in my village is Christian so Easter was a pretty big deal. Everyone puts on their best clothes and goes to church, then they spend the day relaxing, drinking, and eating a lot.
To start the day, my 8 year old neighbor, Shokia, came to get me for church. Church was packed. The church is a big mud hut with a grass roof and some homemade benches of different sizes. Church services here have a lot more singing and clapping and tribal yelling than in the states which took some getting used to but now I love it.
After church I went to my counterparts house for lunch and to hang out with his family. We had ugali and chinisi, which is basically thick porridge and spinach. Its sounds supper boring but its not too bad. After a while he brought out his "Your Bible and You" book for me to translate. Its an ancient book that explains the Bible. We only got a few pages in when he asked me what the picture of the space ship was (they were talking about how science has affected the bible). So after a while of trying to convince him that man HAS indeed walked on the moon it was time to go.
On the way home I stopped by my guards house to say Happy Easter and he told me he had a present for me for easter. He goes in his room and comes out with a piece of a rabbit he caught the day before in the bush.
I figured since there is no way to refrigerate this meat I should cook it and it was actually delicious.
By the time I cook up the rabbit and then cook for my dogs it was about 8:30. I decided to go check out the Easter festivities in the main part of town.
It seemed like the whole village was there dancing, and drinking the local booze called Ulanzi. Ulanzi is just the sap from bamboo shoots collected in buckets and sold for five cents a liter. So I decided to sit with some villagers and share a couple liters of Ulanzi(to better integrate into the community of coarse).
To rap up the night I got to talk to the Fam for a while. All in all it was a wonderful Easter.
|Friday, April 7th, 2006|
Ten months to start an on-line journal, that has to be a record. Well, I'm not sure were to start but I suppose it would be best to start ten months ago in the beautiful village of Chanzuru.
Training took place in the district of Kilosa about a 3 hr bus ride from the town of Morogoro. We were split into groups of five and sent to neighboring villages around the training compound. I was placed in Chanzuru with a wonderful homestay family, the Ndaiga's. I lived with 13 other tanzanians and was the only family member with my own room. Training lasted 2 months and consisted of intensive language, culture, and field training.
From there we were shipped off to our sites all over the country. I was sent to the southern highlands to a village called Maduma. It is located 22 kilometers from Mafinga in the district of Iringa.
Maduma has a population of just over 1000 people. There is a primary school with grades 1-7 and sadly that's about as far as the villagers get in their education. It is, however, more education than most of the student's parents.
Almost all of the villagers are farmers. The main crop is corn, but some villagers plant beans, spinach or sunflower as well. There are a few small shops that sell the basics for tanzanians: oil, petroleum jelly, matches, and of coarse Coke-Cola.
The first 3 months of service were devoted to integration into the community. Our job everyday was to walk around the village and just talk to as many people as we could about the village and ways we could work together to improve the village. After these 3 months we decided on a list of awesome projects to do over the next year and a half.
The main project is a dispensary. We are building it with a neighboring village called Kikombo so it took a while for the two villages to agree on a place to build but now that the site has been chosen, and the blueprints drawn, we are moving quickly. The villages are meeting Tuesday to start collecting rocks for the foundation. Also, the budget is finished so the grant will be online hopefully this month.
Other projects that we are starting now are bees, fish, and trees. The bee group has 30 members and we are building 100 bee hives. They are also getting hats, gloves and smokers to work the bees.
For the fish group there are about 20 members split into 3 smaller groups, each of which are building 2 fish pounds. We are hoping to stock them with tilapia within a couple months.
They have tons of other great project ideas that we will get to after these are self sustaining.
I think that is enough to get started. I know it was extremely brief and formal. The future entries should be much more entertaining but I figured I would start with a quick informational entry. Im sure you have lots of questions. I think you can reply on this website but if you can't feel free to email me. email@example.com
I'm also hoping to put some pictures up when my digital camera arrives in June.
I hope everyone is doing well. Talk to you all soon.
|Wednesday, March 15th, 2006|
Ok, I've posted all I have and postdated the messages to when they were E-Mailed out.
They're personal E-Mails but I don't think there's anything too personal in there.
Someone will probably make some more updates, soon. I'm sure there is more than what I have.
Hello, this is the first post for my cousin Chris's Blog. I may add a few others and post date the entries, but this is the actual first post.
That's all for now.
|Monday, November 28th, 2005|
Hey, I just got a message from another volunteer who
said I have a package at posta. Im assuming its from
you guys but ill let you know if it is and if
everything is present and accounted for later.
The rest of the Dar trip was fun. Thanks for the
conference call. It made my Thanksgiving.
We spent the next day on the beach in kipepeo. The
indian ocean is amazing. It was sooooo hot. When we
left Dar it was a humid 102 degrees. You just drip
sweat when your sitting in the shade and you are
soaked if you decide to walk around in the sun. The
beach had these little banda type things to lay in and
the water was refreshing. We will have to go there for
a day or two when you guys come. Its a resort beach
but they have these huts on the beach that are nice
for $10 (i think). They were booked when we got there
so we stayed in tents at the neighboring resort for
It is nice to be back in Mafinga. I am excited to get
back to site. It feels like Ive been gone for a long
Talk to you soon.
|Monday, November 7th, 2005|
Hey, The rains have started and its pretty crazy. I get a little stream that runs through my living room from the back door to the front. Also everything is turned to mud and when your transportation is a bike it can get pretty dirty. It is hard to belive it is getting colder there while it is getting hotter here. It gets to a humid 85-90 degrees before the rain but cools down a lot after the rain comes. The rain is a big dark cloud that forms on the horizon as a warning that you have about a half hour to get somewhere that you can stay for a few hours until the rain stops. It brings a nice fresh smell and everything is already starting to turn green.
The dogs are doing well. Z, the old volunteers dog, is doing a good job training the puppy, tenzin. They are excellent guard dogs and keep me company in the village.
There is a group of volunteers leaving the mafinga area this month. It is sad. There are 6 or 7 all together. It is strange to hear them talking about going home and seeing everyone and eating delicious food. They are all sad about leaving but they seem like they are ready to go.
Mwasha, my boss, is coming to visit my site tomorrow. Hopefully he will aprove a couple projects I have planned so I can get started getting them in motion.
Can you send me larry's email address. I would love to talk to him. Mark says he has tried to get a hold of him a couple times but he hasn't been very successful.
All for now. Talk to you soon. I love you all.
|Sunday, September 18th, 2005|
|picture of Chris
Here is a picture of Chris from the US Embassy at Tanzania
Chris is the one in the middle of the front row of people getting sworn in.
|Friday, August 26th, 2005|
Hello to the fam from Mafinga,
This internet cafe is great. It is relatively very fast compared to the one in kilosa. I got to come into town today because the chairman of my new village wanted to email a guy in the uk about getting money for preaching the bible. He had no idea how to do anything with the computer. I set him up an email account but he will never be able to access it. He is so funny. Not only that but the "guy" he is emailing is a mass email account for some christian mission in the UK.
My new house is amazing. I have three rooms in the front part, a courtyard and then a kitchen, a storage room, a shower room and a pit toilet. The views are incredible. Directly behind my house is a big mountain and from the front of my house you can look over miles of valleys and rolling hills. You wouldn't believe it. I can't wait for you guys to come and see it.
The volunteer before me sponge painted the sitting room and did some crazy design in the bedroom. The "office" is painted blue. Many animals have taken up residence in my house since the last volunteer left 9 months ago. So far in my house Ive had cocroaches, hundreds of spiders (literally), termites, rats, some sort of mole looking thing, a bat, a goat, a snake and some crazy looking grasshopper like things. I have gotten rid of most of those things with some raid and a broom. I am getting a dog in a week or so. It was just born and is still feeding from its mom. I also think one of the volunteers that is leaving in December is giving me his dog. That will take care of the rest of the animals. Oh yeah I forgot to mention the lizards. There are maybe ten lizards that sun themselves on my roof. They are pretty cool.
So the main person I work with in the village is a Penticostle evangelist. Like "Please come to the front of the church so we can scream the devil out of you" evangelist. By saying I was christian gave him the impression I wanted to go to church a lot. I have been 3 times in the past 5 days. This would be anoying except the music is amazing. I could listen to it all day. The awkward part is that he makes me sit in the front of the church with the pastor, the elder and, him. Everyone stares at me the whole time. I think its because I am at least 100 pounds heavier than everyone in my village and at least 4 inches taller than the tallest person. The kids are very curious about the new giant, hairy, white guy in their village.
The villagers are awesome. They are very kind and love that I am there. It may be because the last volunteer built a library. They get a kick out of talking to me in their tribal language and laughing when I don't understand. Im picking up on some of it and when I respond in the tribal language they love it. I have a guard for when Im away named Blastos. He was in the army for 6 years. He's pretty awesome.
I have full cell phone service in my village but I screwed up my battery somehow. When I get it fixed we will be able to talk as much as my battery will allow. Im going to try to get some sort of solar phone charger or something.
I am running out of time. Let me know if I left out any important info. Talk to you soon. I miss you all.
|Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005|
How is everything? I am in Dar right now and it is pretty awesome. We ate some delicious food and tried to buy cell phones but the place was closed. Maybe tomorrow.
I got all of the birthday cards (i think) They were wonderful. I put them on my table at my host house and got an extremely funny reaction from the family. They must not get cards here because they acted like I was the most important person in america. They asked me things like Are you going to have a really good job when you get back, do you want a beer with your dinner ( its a sign of wealth here), do you want us to cook american food for you?. They are so funny. I also made them all try the pop rocks. It was probably one the top ten funniest things I have ever seen.
I started a small chicken project (the project is small not the chickens) in the village. We vaccinated about 200 chickens against Newcastle's desease and informed people how to raise there chicks. It was pretty cool. Of course two of my families chickens got gumboro virus the next day.
Jill, the girl that did our training in Phili, is here for a week or so. She took some pictures of our projects and a tech session. I will try to get her to send them to you.
I will be living in the village of Maduma in the district if Mufindi for the next two years. It is near where I shadowed so I am very excited. Its a great site. I have three volunteers in an hour and a half bike ride and the town of Mafinga is within an hour and a half bike ride also. There is a place in Mafinga where the volunteers meet up to hang out and I can leave my bike there if I go on any trips. I can't wait to see the house. I will tell you all about it in a couple weeks.
Everything is going very well. My host family is great. I am very lucky. Miss you all a lot. Talk to you soon.