A relaxing day in Moshi Town.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

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Today I taught the kids "The Ants Go Marching". I sang it a few times without any back up but then the kids started catching on. They really loved the marching and the hurrah, hurrah parts of the song. The teacher helped explain all of the little rhymes throughout each verse so I think, I hope, the kids got the majority of what I was saying. I acted it all out for them and we probably sang it at least 10 times so the kids could start getting the words.

This one little girl, Shifra, who is sooo precious, was loving the marching movements. She was getting so in to it and smiling that it just made my day. If nothing else, she was having a great time! haha....But then there was this other little boy, I don't know his name yet, who just stood there staring. I haven't seen him smile yet. I don't know why he seems so closed off, he is just a child but his eyes, his expressions tell a different story. I hope I can get him to join in at least once while I am here.

Overall, class was great. After the song, which took up a lot of time, Mama Mwanga taught Kiswahili. I helped where I could.

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Most of the group went to Arusha today to do some shopping. Erinn, another volunteer from LA, and I decided to stick behind and spend a relaxing day in Moshi. We will get to go to Arusha next week, when the International Tribunal for Rwanda resumes, which is really my only reason for wanting to go.

It was a great afternoon! We went to Union Cafe, which is where a lot of out-of-towners eat because the facilities are closer to what you would see at home. The Cafe is so great, a lot of volunteers hangout there. We had milkshakes, relaxed, took in the view and talked. It was perfect. Then we walked around town and stopped in at Unique Batik, a clothing store. I wanted to pick up a dress for going to Zanzibar tomorrow :) I didn't really bring nice clothes with me and we want to go out to a nice dinner while were there. I'm so excited to spend a weekend by the beach!

We leave at 1:30 tomorrow after placement so I'll write all about it when I get back!

Talk soon! xoxo

My first teaching day at Tulivu!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

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Today was my first day alone at placement. The kids, as always made me feel loved and welcomed. They ran out to meet the van and took my bag to put away in the office. We played some games and then they lined up to say their pledge and anthem. Every morning they repeat these same things and at the end they turn to me and say "Good morning teacher", I say "good morning class, how are you?", "Very fine Thank you." All their repetitive rhymes are so sweet. When I do something good, or a classmate gets something right, they sing, while clapping "Well done, Well done, keep it up, keep it up for you!". When they say "for you" they direct their clap towards you. I learnt that it is a sign of respect here. Also, every time I leave they chant "goodbye teacher, come again teacher" numerous times. There little rituals are so different then some of the things you would see in our schools, but very endearing.

When they separated in to their two groups, I taught the Pre-2s. We had Math today and learned shapes. They have seen them all before but retaining all the info is hard. Most of the time they have their English rhymes and songs and the kids just memorize them. So if you ask what a square is out of the context of their usual rhyme or pattern they get very confused. We drew out our shapes, colored them, wrote out their names, and counted how many of each shape we had. A good first lesson but not being a teacher it is hard to know how effective I am in the classroom. I just want to leave them with something. With the language barriers it is hard to communicate all of the aspects of the lesson. I'm trying to take it one day at a time :)

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This afternoon we visited the local hospital. I feel kind of numb about it...This may sound horrible but it is hard to feel upset about it right now because so much is coming at you all at once. It still feels like you aren't really seeing these things first hand...I think a lot of what I am experiencing still hasn't sunk in. I live in such a contained, small, peaceful place and although this place holds so much beauty, warmth, and generosity, it still has a lot of ugly aspects you would never, ever, encounter at home.

The hospital was built in 1925, with buildings added over time. In the maternity ward there were probably about 20-30 beds with up to 2 to 3 women per bed. The delivery room is separated from the ward by a curtain. They deliver 8-14 babies a day with up to 300-400 deliveries per month. A lot of Masai women travel to the hospital from far away, establishments close to Arusha. They don't know their due dates so they come, sometimes up to 2 months before delivery, to stay at the hospital. They can't turn them away so they live there until they give birth.

In the psychiatric ward it was a very revealing experience. The patients were behind a padlocked door. I felt very guilty about being outside, as if they were a sideshow...the doctor talked extensively to us. They told us that they lock up epileptics to determine whether or not their episodes are psychotic. In the room all there was were some beds, writing on the walls...Most of their cases are schizophrenia. Often if the person is being transported from their village they will be tied up with rope to be delivered to the facilities. But they are always handcuffed to come to the hospital. There are only 12 psychiatrists in all of Tanzania....The facilities were very lacking and very basic. I don't think sanitation is considered. It felt very strange walking through and seeing the patients. I felt like an invader. I think most of my group did. I think the general consensus coming out of there was pure shock. This is just their basic facilities, they do have another regional hospital that is supposed to be a more respected and suitable facility.

The dinner bell just rang so I am off...write again soon!

Another Kili Adventure!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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Today we spent the entire day on Mount Kili. We started out visiting a blacksmith shop on the mountain, where we got to see the process in action. It basically consisted of one man heating the steal and manning the fire while the other one pounded the material in to the required shape. These men were wearing flip-flops with no protection what so ever but the sparks falling on their feet didnt seem to phase them. There were also some of their wood carvings and metal work for sale...I may have bought some things to bring back home :)

Next we were off to another part of the mountain to learn a little bit about Chagga history, the largest tribe in Tanzania. We stopped at this 'Cave', which was really a deep pit, where the Chagga people would hide when Masai warriors attacked. The tunnels are very intricate and were man made (using sticks and rocks) 2 centuries ago when tribal warfare was still very prevalent in the area. They would live down in these tunnels for however long it took for the fighting to pass. They even brought their sheep and goats down there with them!

If you are wondering, yes they did let us go down in to the tunnels!! I didnt think I was brave enough at first but I surprised myself by making it to the end. First you have to climb down this very poorly constructed ladder, very slick with mud. Then you crouch through a path that leads to what was one of their kitchens. There the guide talked a little bit about the family life in the caves. We moved on from there to see where the warriors would sleep, a very narrow area not built for comfort. We turned around then to get out the way we came. There had been cave-ins in the past so a lot of routes we could have taken were blocked off. On the way back I was feeling pretty good that I didnt panic in the narrow spaces when I fell on my butt, got mud everywhere, and then a bat flew into my face! That put me in my place haha. After the termites from last night I am no longer ok with flying creatures of any sort...at least for a while. But we made it out and got to see a very cool part of history!! To think that people lived down there for 20 years!! I would think they would have gone crazy. It would be a scary place to call home.

Next our group proceeded to the Kilimanjaro Resort (a beautiful hotel!! absolutely luxurious) where we eat lunch. This houses the Chagga Museum, which we were able to see. Real Chagga huts, weapons, pottery...The Chagga people use to keep their cattle inside their huts so that rival tribes would not steal them. So the huts housed two beds, a fire/cooking area, and a pen for animals.

After the museum it was time for a hike to the waterfalls!! This was way more challenging than expected...they never warn you here because they are so use to the mountain haha. We walked about 20 minutes to the beginning of the descent down to the waterfalls. The descent was an experience!! They have obviously attempted to make steps down to the falls but it is very slippery and easy to lose your footing. There were railings at least on one side of the path most of the time. The path was unbelievable, with no real steps, and steep. Cant wait to share pictures so you can get the full effect of how intimidating it was! Just glad it decided not to rain today :)

So after about 20 minutes we reached the waterfalls. They were beautiful! I sat there and listened to the water. It was very peaceful, just what I needed. It felt like you were in the middle of nowhere, just you and the amazing scenery. It was hard to completely relax though after the exhilaration from the caves and the descent but I tried.

The climb back up was physically more hard but faster cause you could see your footing better. You didnt have to strategically place your feet like on the way down.

Overall a great day on Kili! Maybe it will even convince me to try and climb it while Im here....

No flying termites yet tonight :) Hope everyone back home is doing great.
Love from Moshi. xoxo

Some adorable kids, Batik Art, and Flying Termites!

Monday, April 25, 2011

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The Easter weekend was very quiet. Went to town, got to know my way around a bit. Watched movies, read, relaxed. I got to settle in :) My group came back from safari last night and I'm very happy to have more people around the compound again, although it was great getting to know some of the volunteers that have been here for a while :)

Today we had a full day of activities. At 8 this morning we took a drive out to Neema Orphanage, about an hour drive away from the homebase. It was a very nice compound compared to what we have encountered so far. I believe the buildings were donated by European and American investors.

There were three different age groups there. The babies, up to two years old, the toddlers, and then the nursery grade, which were around 4 years. Our volunteers split up in to three groups, I was with the toddlers. These kids were around 2 years old. When we first walked in they were all on their potties, learning how to use the bathroom. They don't wear diapers...the toddler house is where they are meant to learn a lot of social skills: learning to feed themselves, go to the bathroom, ect...

Josee, another volunteer, was well prepared. He brought balloons, bubbles, books...the kids were very entertained but they have yet to learn the concept of sharing.

I had this one precious child that stuck with me. Having a Niece around the same age, her situation was that much more real. Her name was Naomi. She loved to make up tunes so I found myself singing to her. She would mimic some of the childhood songs I sang. It was precious. Just like Hannie, who is a great mimic at home :) I was singing twinkle twinkle little star, Mary had a little lamb, baa baa black sheep...she would just repeat the tune. She stared at my face, memorizing the sounds, repeating the songs, fascinated. It was such a great experience, to connect with her for just a moment.

When we had to go she really didn't want me to put her down. It broke my heart, because I'm sure they don't have enough staff to give individual attention to the kids on a daily basis. She clung to me like a little monkey. To know that I will never see her again or know how she fairs...she is an orphan and I could not imagine the same fate for anyone I loved...The Mama at the house said that some are abandoned, others have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, or other diseases. Some have parents reclaim them later on, or get adopted...The beautiful thing was that the orphanage really loved these kids and the Mama wanted them to be well looked after. It is nice to know they are in good hands...


Later on, after lunch we learnt Batik art. This is a VERY long process. It consists of tracing, painting, drying, waxing, painting again, drying, waxing again, wiping off the wax, ironing and touching up. We all got to make our own paintings. It was great and the teachers were extremely helpful! I made one with an elephant!

Tonight was interesting...flying termites showed up after supper...About the size of dragonflies, they were invading us by the 100s. Inside our house! Our bedroom had tons! I did not keep my cool...haha! It was ridiculous and slightly disgusting. We tried killing them off but they kept getting in. I think this is something I will have to deal with often while I am here because they thrive during the rainy season. Yay!! :)

I'll try and write again tonight. We have more adventures planned for today. xoxo

Hakuna Matata!

Friday, April 22, 2011

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No worries, no problems. In the end that is exactly how it went.

The day started out with placement at Tulivu, where we had a goodbye ceremony for Kristin and Hillary, who are both going home this weekend. I'm sad to see them go because its really nice having other volunteers at the placement with me. Hopefully I'll get some more support in a few weeks when new volunteers come in.

After lunch we were scheduled for a coffee tour with Pristine Trails. The coffee and banana farms are outside of Moshi on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. So 12 of us piled in to the old, beat up mini bus (like the ones that take us to and from our placements) to make the drive up the mountain. Before I know it I am winding along the mountain roads, seeing thick vegetation, intimidating drop offs, and a constant view of very run down and makeshift buildings and homes. The drive up almost made me car sick for the first time in my life, the ruts were unbelieveable. After a very long 30 minutes we finally stopped but not in a conventional and very pleasent way. It was really more of a slide than a stop really. The buses tires lost all of their traction and we went sliding towards the cliff edge. All I thought was 'holy shit' and heard Josee in the back praying in Spanish haha. Luckly the tires found there way once more and we jumped out of the van without hesitation.

We were to walk the rest of the way to Oscars house, the coffee farmer who was to give us a tour of his business. We followed Oscar down a miniscule mud path on the side of the mountain. His family, he is one of 13 children, were born and raised on the slopes of kilimanjaro. He now helps his father grow and maintain the coffee, while his mother grows bananas (the women of Kili who harvest bananas walk all the way to town balancing a large tray of them on their heads. It is very amazing to see! and trust me that is not a short walk!). He showed us the process to make a cup of coffee. It gives me new appreciation for using our single cup coffee machine at home.

First you have to harvest the beans, then you peal them, then you wash them and dry them out, then you literally pound the shells off of them, then you roast them. Who would have EVER come up with that??? Did some one just see a green looking bean on a tree one day and think, I could definitely make a yummy addictive drink out of this? haha, its crazy that this process was discovered. We also grinded (by pounding) the beans and mixed it with boiled water to finish the process and have a cup of coffee. We sat in his tiny outside living space, siping coffee and eating some sort of doughy pastry. It was the Tanzanian starbucks :). It was one of the best cups of coffee I have ever had. Don't worry, I have already ordered some to bring home with me so we can share in the experience together.

While we were enjoying our coffee time the rain began. We had heard the thunder clouds about 15 minutes before but when we mentioned it to Oscar his response was 'no worries, I talked to God'. It really is a Hakuna Matata culture here. So, the rain starts and about 20 minutes later we are all done our coffee and ready to head back down the mountain. Easier said than done. Keep in mind there are no paved roads on Kili, the roads are all made out of genuine African mud. This isn't like mud at home, with the rain the mud was thick, slippery, and messy. It made for an interesting dessent.

We weren't allowed to get in the van/bus where we had left it so we began to walk. we could see the van sliding all over the road as it followed behind. I was so glad I wasn't in it. After a half hour the van stopped to let us in. Not a very fun idea. On one side of us was a ditch but the other side help a drop off that was likely to get us to the bottom of Kili MUCH faster then we would like. But we were told it was safe and trustedthe guides. We made it about 3 feet before we all screamed to be let out haha (looking back I can laugh, in the van at that moment I was having a heart attack). The van had slid sideways, making it about a foot or less from the cliff edge. I was one seat up from the back and looking out the window I could see over the side of the mountain. It was a close call but we were all safe.

So we jumped out and continued our walk :) I was actually really happy to do it. The temperature was perfect, there was a little rain still but it was really nice, plus we got to see the people and the beautiful views as we walked down. From our vantage point you could actually see where it was raining over Moshi and where it was still sunny in the valley below. Pretty cool.

On the walk down I had to use the bathroom crazy bad. I had to go since before we drank the coffee but after I found an ant inside my skirt, biting my hip, I decided there was no way I was going to squat in some tall grass!! I couldn't figure out what the pricking feeling was on my skin at first and when I discovered the bug I let out a good yelp. I didn't realize it was an ant at first haha but nothing came of the bite. It had a pretty good grip on me though. Kind of random.

I think we attempted to get in the van once more before we were able to stay in it for an extended amount of time. We were pretty nervous getting in it again but our guide Oscar was a great help. He had us singing and clapping in no time. It was a beautiful thing. We did had to get out and walk once more because the roads were so bad but then once it got a little flater we got back in for good and made the drive to town. Luckly we made it home without incident!!! It was an experience.

We were an hour and a half late for our dinner and dance (the shakey shakey) that was to take place that night. But we still went and had a blast. We eat a buffet of very good food (including fried bananas, potatoes, noodles in butter, fruit, some meats I didn't touch, and a flat pancake which is the most delicious thing) while we listened to African music and watched some very entertaining African dances. The best part was when we were able to get up and join in. Very funny! I want to particiapte in a shakey shakey again soon. We had some acrobatics perform to, and a contortionist.

It was my first really awesome day in Kilimanjaro. Even though I almost lost my shit coming down that mountain haha, it was all a part of the Tanzania experience. It ended up being great fun once the threat of tumbling over the edge disappeared haha. I will never forget it!!

Being Taught to Teach.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

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There is so much to tell you all about this place that I never know where to start. I have so many thing running through my head that I wish you all could know and learn for yourselves. Here are a few things I have learnt in the last 4 days:

1. Most roads here aren't paved and even those that are tend to be pretty bumpy. There are huge rutes in a lot of places. The drives (we have two Papa John and Sam) dodge them often. I can no longer complain about unkept roads at home haha.

2. Tanzanian is the 4th poorest country in the world.

3. Not to freak anyone out cause I will be fine - but 16% of international volunteers in Africa return home with HIV/AIDS.

4. Tanzanians drive on the left side of the road and have little rules about when to pass another vehicle (as we witnessed yesterday when Papa John had seconds to move back to his side of the road, but all was good!)

5. It is expected to greet everyone you see on the street and the greeting used depends on the age of the person you are addressing.

6. There are over 120 varities of banana.

7. Most people here believe that all Mzungus (foreigners) are very smart and rich.

8. Corporal Punishment is still used in a lot of schools in Tanzania, including mine. (One of the teachers often walks around with a stick.)

9. 1000 tanzanian shillings is approximately 1.5 canadian dollars (A beer here costs about 500 shillings and a dress about 24,000 (tailor made) just to give you an idea of hom inexpensive things here can be.)

10. The people of Tanzania really do welcome everyone with open arms. In most cases people drop what they are doing to talk to you and show you things. If you go to their home and interrupt them, you become the priority. It is all about relationships here. I have heard the phrase 'Karibu Sana'(you are very welcome) probably a million times since I arrived Saturday.

This isn't an exhaustive list obviously but it is so hard to remember everything when so much is being thrown at you.

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I feel like I can't give you all the full picture but I hope you are at least getting some idea about what I am experiencing here. As the months go by I am sure there will be a lot more observations to share.

To answer some of moms questions from her comment on the last entry: There are always veggie options at meal times. Primo, our cook is great! Very good food. Tried Ugali for the first time today, basically a tastless paste. Most of the people here survive on it. I haven't got a sense of where everything is yet but I know that our homebase is about a 5 minute walk from Moshi town. The school I don't have a sense of where exactly it is yet...I do know that it takes about an hour to walk from there back to the homebase because thats what we did today. Me and 3 other volunteers walked from Tulivu so we could stop in at WEECE, which is a young women's shop. They tailor clothing there for the community and are a partner with CCS. I ordered a dress! cant think of what else you asked but if you have more questions Id be happy to fill in the blanks...Ill try posting pictures soon so you can get a sense of what it looks like.

Today at Tulivu we read the kids Hungry, Hungry Catepillar and got them to make some out of craft sticks, fuzzy balls and glue. They didnt look much like catepillars but with the resources here, you work with what you have haha. The kids enjoyed it I think and now they have something that is their own. When we split up in to pre-1 and pre-2 classes I did a lesson with the pre-2 class. We drew and colored today mostly. I had the draw out 9 pictures, write the name of the object and color it in. It was simple but Mama Mwanga wanted me to do that with the children and so I did. I have a feeling that she is going to cause lots of frustration in the future. She has a great heart but is not open much to others ideas...that will require lots of patience and discussion since I am there to make a difference. Hillary has already talked to me about some of her experience with this and how to handle it.

After placement we walked home, had lunch, and then had a feedback session with Sara and Moses (our directors). We were able to share some of our first impressions of Tanzania and our placements with everyone. To me, in the last four days, it has been all about learning. I am learning a lot about myself as well as the community. The kids at Tulivu are going to stretch me so much. They are in the process of teaching me how to teach. It is amazing and scary.

Soon we will have our first Kiswahili class, then supper, then a guest speaker is coming to talk to us about educational issues in Tanzania.

I am able to get on the computer so much more than expected! I'm glad I can communicate with home.

Take Care until next time. xoxo

First Day at Tulivu

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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Just got back from my placement. The first day was interesting to say the least. We left homebase at 7:30 this morning and arrived at Tulivu Kindergarten around 8. Immediately when we walked through the door the kids ran up to us screaming 'teacher, teacher'. They took our hands and wanted to hug us. It was the most amazing greating. They were adorable, just as I imagined. One little girl took my bag from me and took it to the office. It was so sweet.

We started by playing games, Hillary introduced them to tug-of-war. The kids really caught on and enjoyed it. When they were done playing games the kids had to line up and repeat there school pledge and the natioal anthem, which is lead by their teacher Remini. The kids went to their one school room to sing songs, that involve animals, abc's, and 123's.

Usually everyday the kids are split up into Pre-1 and Pre-2 groups. I was with the Pre-2 group, which is a little more advanced. That is the group I will be taking over from Hiliary. They are a little more advanced. Today we read them the book "When I grow up", which we had some help translating. They had to say what they wanted to be and then draw it out and color their picture.

There were definitely communication problems, I am lacking in swahili so I felt lost some of the time. I felt like a fish out of water. Its amazing how you notice the differences in cultures when you are thrown in to a situation like that. It is a great learning experience!! It makes you notice your strength and weaknesses; you must confront yourself. The kids were so sweet and, for the most part, well behaved. I look forward to feeling comfortable there soon :)

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The internet is working at the homebase again! yay! So I hope to be on a lot :)

Hope all is well at home. xoxo

Jambo!

Monday, April 18, 2011

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I arrived safe in Kilimanjaro saturday night at 7:45 Tanzanian time. I feel as if I have been here at least 10 days but it has only been two. They have packed a lot in and we really have not had much down time :).

To answer Megs question...the first thing I thought stepping off the plane was probably that the weather was perfect. 24 degrees and a warm breeze flowing through the trees. It reminded me of our summers in NB...a great greeting for someone who felt a little home sick :). I also noticed that the smell was unique...haha. It was not "smelly" just distinct, I dont know the words to describe it. It was dark so we didnt get to see Mount Kili from the air but I did see it from the homebase last night. Beautiful in the moonlight. We will be hiking the base of the mountain next week I think.

We arrived at the homebase a few hours after our flight and got asigned rooms. Im bunking with two girls, Susan from Georgia and Iren from Vancouver. They are great, all the volunteers are really open and happy. Our house is very basic and I hope to show it to you in pictures soon. There are two hosues in the compound, one has a living area with a TV and both have computers, although the internet is down on them at the moment. The grounds are beautiful, with lots of nature and space.

On sunday we had a day packed with cultural sharing, a tour of Moshi, a visit to Samaria orphanage, and filling out immigration papers. We went to the market and were surrounded by people wanting to sell us their art :) It is hard to say no (hapana) but necessary. They were relentless. We also went to some beautiful art stalls where I will definitely revisit to buy some of the look art. The kids at the orphanage were so full of life, very willing to interact, and aspiring actors haha. Some were shy but most invited the attention of the Mzungus (foreigners).

Today we had a full day of sharing our goals and expectations, meeting the people from our placements and doing a scavenger hunt through town to become more comfortable with swahili and the surrounding area.

There is so much more to say but my time on the computer is running out. I wish I could write it all but I will be back soon.

Take Care!

Two Flights Down, One to Go.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

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Hey Everyone!! This is my first official blog off Canadian soil.

Left from Fredericton at 11:10 yesterday. It was a hard goodbye for many reasons. I am so happy to start this journey but wish more than anything that I could have packed all of you in my suitcase. Think security would have noticed?? :)

The flight to Toronto was uneventful, pretty smooth overall. I read a bit, watched New Brunswick sail by beneath me, and tried not to shed any tears. I have a feeling that this adventure is going to be a roller coaster of emotions for me. I don't see myself as an overly emotional person but I feel deeply, and this is something that is very important to me, something I have been thinking about for so long but never dreamed would become a reality...

I waited in the Toronto airport for a good 5 hours. Picked up my luggage, changed terminals, rechecked my luggage after an hour wait, went through security, waited around for another couple of hours, called and messaged family, then boarded the flight to Amsterdam. We took of around 5:30 local time.

The flight was very smooth, no terbulance, which made me very happy. I think this is the first time I've flown where I haven't been nervous about having my feet off the ground. I don't like it when I am not in control...and since I can't fly an airplane, I suppose I must depend on the pilots.

I started getting a headache in Toronto so I thought if I could sleep on the flight it might go away. But the sleep was on and off, pretty restless and uncomfortable. My butt is so soar from those seats! Ouch. So the headache remains. Packed my advil in my checked luggage, silly me. So I am without but may have to invest in some meds before my next flight. I don't want to feel sick when I meet everyone today.

Overall, nothing eventful to report. Always a good thing when you are flying :)Another 3 hours and I will be in the air yet again. I've never done three flights in a row before and I can tell I am going to be exhausted once I land in Kilimanjaro. Should be arriving there at 7:45 local time (around 1 Fredericton time). CCS will pick us up at the airport (other volunteers will be on this next flight!) and we will drive about 45 minutes to the home base.

I know that these 2 months are going to fly by and I am going to be wishing for them back. But right now this day of traveling is dragging haha. Just can't wait to get settled in and fall into a bed. Only another 10 hours :)

Hope everyone has a great weekend at home. Thinking of you.

Sending my love from across the pond <3

Dear Home Town,

Friday, April 15, 2011

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It is with mixed emotions that I write this morning.

My bags are packed and the hour is drawing near. You know when you are in the moment you have been dreaming about and anticipating for a very long time, you know that surreal feeling, that out of body- whats going on type of emotion...that is me right now. Living this is something I thought might never happen. And now it is here.

In the grand scheme of things two months is nothing. But in this moment it means something to me. This is my first experience travelling solo and my first time setting foot in Africa...

I kept doing things this morning and thinking to myself, "another two months before I do that again." Such as a hot shower, using my blow dryer, sleeping in my wonderfully comfortable bed (really didn't feel like moving when the alarm went off haha)...but sacrificing those luxuries is a small price to pay for the adventure I am about to embark on. I see it as one more learning experience :)

I am so lucky to be able to go on this trip. I can not wait to meet the kids and teachers at my placement. I can not wait to meet my fellow volunteers and learn from everyone who will be surrounding me over the next two months. I really want to come out of this with a better understanding and knowledge of the Tanzanian culture. I want to see development on the ground and learn how things move forward.

It will be an emotional morning (already has been actually). Said goodbye to Marc a little bit ago...see you laters aren't fun are they... My wonderful family is taking me to the airport, which I know will probably bring out the tears. I am happy and getting pretty excited but have never been away from family for that long before. Yet again, one more learning experience.

To those who are closest to me, have listened patiently to me as I went on about this trip, and offered nothing but support, I love you. I am taking you all with me on this adventure.

To everyone who has supported me over the last 8 months of planning and given your time or resources to CCS's worthy goals, I want to thank you. You know who you are and if I were there I would be giving you big hugs and offering my thanks.

Miss you. I'll be seeing you. xoxo


ps. Next time I write it will be from Africa!! Can you believe I will be seeing Kilimanjaro in 24 hours?!?

Runnin' Around.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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I finished work on April 1st and since then it feels like I haven't stopped running around trying to get everything done. It's all in the details really, small things you wouldn't think you needed to consider soon become important items on your to do list. Trust me because I have compiled many of those over the last week and a half... Little things you can't forget to pack, people/places you need to contact, last minute supplies to buy.

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Last friday I finally found out my placement!! Generally, CCS informs volunteers of their placement one to two weeks before thir departure. This is to allow enough time to consider volunteer profiles and host meetings with their partner programs (Tanzanian organizations). It also allows them to address the immediate needs of the community. Since the placement isn't decided until close to the volunteers arrival the need for a volunteer remains immediate.

My placement is at Tilivu Kindergarten with children ages 3-6. There are 40 children enrolled at the one room school house but on average there could be 15-30 children present. The school was established in 2009 by a locally qualified techaer and now also maintains one other staff member.

My duties will include: Teaching English, mathematics, reading and writing, sports, games, songs, and arts and crafts. Help assess the development and progress of students (help create testing procedures and standards), Organize projects and activities for the children, work with the teacher to develop nursery school activities and materials that can be used for years to come (using creativity to create things with little supplies and modern equipment), participate in cultural exchange with the children and teachers.

The long-term goals of this partnership are to provide quality education for the children of Kilimanjaro, to encourage an exchange among teachers in order to gain new teaching and learning methodologies, and to improve students’ and teachers’ facility with the English language. Each volunteer’s short-term goals may include: establishing relationships with students and teachers, engaging in meaningful cultural exchange, preparing and implementing creative lesson plans for all of the above mentioned subjects, and to provide an opportunity for formal and informal English lessons. It is important to balance maintaining control in the class and reinforcing the children’s learning.

This will be an interesting and challenging placement for me!! I have already started picking Megan's brain for some teaching ideas to take with me. She has been a great help and I think it will benefit me once I start my placement next Tuesday. I never saw myself as a teacher and I have been nervous off and on over the last few days. But at the same time I am excited to jump in and get started. Mostly I hope that the children warm up to me and I can have a real connection with them. I also hope that my brain is in full gear and I have the creativity needed to entertain the kids. It will stretch me and put me in situations I have never encountered.

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Since last I wrote, I opted for the Yellow Fever vaccination. It was an expense I had not forseen but thanks to the generous donations from my friends, family, and community I did not have to stress to much over it. Just to give you an idea, overall my immunizations and my malaria medications have cost approximately $1000. That includes two sets of Hep A&B shots, typhoid, yellow fever, and my malaria pills to take with me. All necessary to stay, hopefully, healthy and safe while I am away.

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As I had mentioned earlier, there has been a lot of lists floating around over the last two weeks. There has been a lot to do, things I would never have thought I would have had to complete before heading out. Mostly this is because I had to tie things off with a few accounts before leaving the country. If you want to know just how paranoid and organized I can be, here are some of the lists I created:

TO PACK FOR AFRICA -

Clothes (suggested 1-2 weeks worth)
- T-shirts (7- no logos or political statements)
- Button Down shirt (1)
- Skirts (2-below the knee)
- Tank Tops (2)
- Cardigan (to cover up if needed)
- Long sleeved shirts (2- suggested for nights to protect against mosquitos)
- Long Pants (2)
-Capri Pants (2)
- Shorts (1)
-Raincoat
-Swimsuit
- Socks (7)
- Undergarments
-Hat
- PJs (2 pairs)
-CCS T-shirt (need to wear this at the Airport so the CCS staff can easily recognize me)

Footwear
-Hiking Sandals
-FlipFlops for showers
-Tennis shoes (comfy! so wearing these on the plane :))
-Sturdy Sandals for placement
-Waterproof Sneakers (Going during the rainy season)


Personal Care Items
- Unscented Bodywash (Of all places, I found this at the Dollar Store!! Couldn't find any at Walmart...)
- Unscented Shampoo and Conditioner(this took a while to locate. Thanks to Marc, I found out that the Bulk Barn had some natural hair products. They suggested unscented products because of the mosquitos.)
-Razor
- Basic Makeup (a comfort but who knows when/if I will use it)
- Comb and Hair products (just a few to try and keep the wavyness under control lol.)
- Unscented Deodarant
-Nail clippers and file
-Moisturizer (with SPF)
-Facewash
-Toothbrush and paste
-Towel (they provide one per week at the house so if I could fit one extra in my suitcase that would be useful)
- Packs of Tissues
-Insect Repellant with DEET
- Sun-block
-Bar of Laundry Soap (going to be washing our clothes in buckets in the backyard. After they dry we need to make sure to iron everything because Mango fly's lay their eggs in wet cloth. Not really looking forward to the insects!)
- Lip Balm

First Aid
-Bandages
-Hydrocortisone Cream (2%)
-Hand sanitizer
-Tylenol/Advil
-Immodium
-Antiseptic wipes
-Pepto-Bismol tablets
-Hydrogen Peroxide
-Benadryl/Anti-histamine

Miscellaneous
-Photos of home (cultural exchange)
- Sunglasses
-Mp3 player
-Travel alarm clock
-Flashlight
-Lock (to store valuables in a drawer at the house)
- Backpack (for weekend trips)
- Books (hard to narrow that list down :))
- English-Swahili Dictonary/phrase book
- Journal
-Camera/charger
-Water bottle
-Feminen products
-Adapter/Converter (240-250 volts)
- Batteries

Papers/Meds
-Passport and Visa
-Copies of papers
-Immunization records (just in case!)
-IDs
-Malarone (malaria meds, very important!)
- Daily medications
-Handbooks (provided by CCS, has who to contact if our flights are delayed)
-Papers for Temporary Residency Permit (will be applying for this during orientation on sunday)
- US money (needed for the Temporary Residency Permit and if I go on Safari)


I had to purchase all of the medications and a lot of things in the First-Aid section. Also had to invest in some of the toiletries and clothing. It took a while to find everything!! ps. I also had an extensive To Buy list but thought it would be redundant to share :)

Along with those two lists I kept a To Do List over the last two weeks. It included a lot of random things :) I'll share it in case anyone is interested in seeing the types of things you think of when you are leaving the country for a while.

TO DO LIST:
- 6 Passport Photos (for Temporary Residency Permit. Had also purchased these earlier for Visa.)
- Papers for Residency Permit (This includes resume, confirmation of employment, education and experience form, photocopies of passport and visa, pictures, passport and visa...I think thats it)
- Print photos
- Update music on Mp3 (big task!! Especially since my computer is so friggin slow!. But having a 23 hour flight there and a 30 hour flight back, plus some free time in the house, I thought it was a good investment :) Lots of great new songs to listen to!)
- Update and Edit Blog (That would be something I am checking off as we speak...or write! I've had so much fun sharing with you all so far!! I love to write. Its really comforting knowing you are all along for the ride.)
- Pick up Malaria Meds (Had to go to the pharmacy three different times to accomplish this)
- Pick up Synthroid and Apri (also had to go to the pharmacy, and call, numerous times for this)
- Register with Government
- Contact Rogers and Aliant (some fun cell phone business!!)
- Call Visa
- Get US money
- Call Doctor
- Contact Dell about Computer (still need to do this today! Its so slow hoping they can fix it while I'm gone...thanks mom for dealing with this...I did ask you didn't I?? :))
- Buy USB (need to take everything off my Computer)
- Finish Swahili Flashcards
- Buy Craft Supplies for Kids
- Look at Lesson Plans
-Buy supplies to pack

So there it is...kind of random but there is a lot to tie off before you go away for a few months.

I'll post once more before I leave on friday :)