Monday, June 24, 2013

Tumani Shamba

Daily Sister Adventina goes out on the streets of Bakoba looking for children.  Not any child.  Children who have been abused and abandoned to the streets of Bakoba.  When she finds them she tries to convince them  to come to the Tumani Shamba to live.  The shamba is a working farm on the outskirts of Bakoba.

Tumani means HOPE and that is just what the shamba is to these children.  Sister Adventina and her staff are funded by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania.  The children stay at the shamba for a year or more.Some never leave until they are grown.  The sister and the staff work with the child to try and find extended family in their villages that they can eventually live with. 

They are placed in school and educated.  Some have never been to a school and it is hard to catch up to their grade level.  They have a doctor that takes care of all the children s physical needs.  Sometimes, though, the psycological damage is so great that the child returns to the streets.  A lot of them have had so little food that they are stunted in growth and sixteen year olds are the size of ten year olds.

When you enter the shamba with its many gardens and buildings you are greeted by the children jubilantly singing greetings to you.  They also dance for you.  It is Haki dancing which is very old and only done in this reagion.  The feeling of love, kindness and joy permeates everyone and everything that is done there.  The children are loved and safe here and they know it.

There is 56 children at Tumani at the present time.  They range in age from three years old to eighteen.  Can you imagine being dumped on the streets of a city at three because you are not wanted or are a burden to someone?  The older children help take care of the younger ones.  They work in the gardens that produce the food that they eat.

The evening that we were there for their supper they had ugali and a beans in vegitables and tomatoes.  Ugali is like our grits only a little courser.  They patiently wait to be served their food.  The helpings are huge and they can come back for seconds after everyone is feed.  No one goes hungry.  The youngest  are fed first and the oldest last.  The eat setting on the ground that is covered with sweet grass.

All food is cooked in giant pots over an open fire, every meal, every day.  No fancy kitcheons at Tumani.

The next day we went back to do art with them.  I had watercolor, brushes, collored pencils and lots of paper.  They used every drop of it.  They even turned the paper over and drew and painted on the other side.

The clients at We Care Arts, where I work in Dayton, Ohio had made butterflies and decorated them for the children of Tumani.  Such glee and joy.  Their eyes wide with amazement as we passed them out.  They absolutely loved the butterflies.  They even added to the decorations with there own brush and pencil marks and made them their own.

I took the 20 bottles of fingernail polish I had brought from the US.  Everywhere we have offered nail polish has created great amoiunts of giggles, laughter and pride in the girls.  But Tumani was the most fun.  From the youngest girl to the oldest every toe and finger was decorated with bright bold colors and everything was topped off with a coat of glitter polish in gold or silver or both.  Oh my do I have pictures to share from that afternoon.

It seems like so little but I have been told that everything that we had and everything we helped them do was huge.  From toes nails to watercoloring we gave them all a chance to express themselves in color and line.  None of which they had ever done before..  And they had a lot of pictures that they can keep and remember with.  They were so proud of what they had done that day.  The children humble me.

This is my last blog from Africa.  I am heading to Uganda tomorrow and flying home on Wednesday  I will be at the house about 6 pm on Thursday.  The first thing I will do is take a long hot shower.  Washing a a tiny bowl with a t-cup to rinse with is getting pretty tiring.  I will then call everyone to let them know I am home.

I will blog some more when I get rested up.  I have several more to put in.
Love you sharen

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Technology of Cell Phones and Computers in Tanzania

The Technology of Cell Phones and Computers in  Tanzania
Northwestern Karaga Region
Just think of what it would have been like to have placed cell phones in the hands of people 100 years ago.  That is almost what it is like here. There is no electricity, no running water, no land lines in this area for anything.  But there are cell phones and some computers in people’s hands.
This is all very hard to get a handle on.  It is incomprehensible to us in the US to understand.  On the coast (Zanzibar and Dar Salaam) they are a lot more technologically savvy.  A few land lines, maybe better phones, computers and internet service.  More towers, access to satellite services are available.
Here everything goes through very few towers.  The cell phones and the computers go through the same towers.  Personal private phones and computers and commercial (banks, and businesses) go through the same few towers. 
The modem we are using Carolee bought and I helped pay for Junes service so I can use it also.  In order to use our computers she has to take the Sims card out of her phone and place it in the modem device.  So if Carolee needs to take her phone to use somewhere the computers can not get on the internet.
Realize also that all the phone and computer waves are going through very few towers so this means that everything is slow, very slow.  Sometimes we can not pull up what we need.  G mail will only partially come up so you see you have new email but you can not get to the messages sent.  Nor can you email back.
I do not think I will ever be able to get use to this in the short time I am here.  Trying and failing to Skype with my son the other night was very disappointing.  It just does not have the connectivity to accomplish this chore.
On the other hand, looking at the big picture I think about all the people here who are able to communicate with their families and that makes me happy.  Many people who teach at this school have wives, husbands and children in other villages’ hours away.  They do not get home to see them for weeks on end, sometimes months.  They now at least are able to take talk or text with them on a regular basis.
These are not smart phones they are using.  In fact they are phones that ten years ago we though were fabulous.  There are very few smart phones here.  They work and that is what counts.  To these people it is a miracle.  I have been amazed when a woman walking along a dirt road with a baby on her back and a pile of stuff on her head pulls out a phone and starts to talk.
How they charge their phones when they have no electricity what puzzling me.  Carolee showed me all these tiny little run down, falling apart, ramshackle structures lining the main streets (or only streets) in the villages we pasted.  They are covered with advertising by the phone companies.  These are places where people with phones go to charge them, for a small fee of course
When one has electricity here it is still quite dicey.  We have gone for a whole day without electricity. When it goes out in the evening it is very black and dark.  The only light are the stars, the moon if it is out, my tiny flash light or my nook, if it is charged.
The towers also declare a time out several times a day.  Think about standing in a line for two hours at a bank and then power goes out or the internet goes out and then everything in the whole area stops.  That is except for the little lean-to shops in the middle of town that have been operating for hundreds of years selling their produce, meats, materials and all.  They do not need electricity. But I am sure that all of them have a cell phone on them. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Things we think are Icky in the United States of Plenty

Cement floors are the norm here.  No rugs, no wooden floors.
Wet cement floors are quit uncomfortable.

Mosquitoes are vengeful bitters.  Can not see them but you sure can feel them.
Malaria is rampet.  The local people take it for granted they are just going to have to live with it.  They have pills to help them get well faster but not to keep from getting it.  There are not mosquito nets at the school where I live.  I slather myself with mosquito repellent every day along with my sun block.

Electricity going out every day or so.  One learns to dance around it with charging all the devices we in America are addicted to.  We also learn how to keep these devices from frying when there is an electrical charge.

There is no such thing as a fast computer here.  It is either dial up or motems which are just as slow.  There is no Wi Fi here.

No good tools with which to cultivate gardens or mow the grass.  Gardens are cultivated and weeds removed with big heavy hoes by the students at the school.  There is not even a push mower here.  They use sickles, big and small to swish, swish, swish their way across the large lawn.  Also the students come out every morning and pick up everything that has dropped on the lawn from the trees so that everything looks perfect every day.

Riding on dirt roads with really big holes after a rain and no room for ones feet.

No running water All water is carried in by the girl students every day.  Hot water for my bath in the tiny stand up tub every morning.   Cold water to flesh our toilet every day.  Boiled water to drink.

Washing clothes with no washer or dryer.  The students get our cloths on Saturday and wash them by hand in a bucket and hang them out to dry.

Fish with heads on.  I have seen enough of them.  They even have a sardine that is very tiny (one inch long) that you put on your plate by the hundreds. They eat very little vegetables and a lot of starch. Potatoes, plantains, yams, rice sometimes all at the same meal.

Bugs in ones hat.  I put my hat on the other day and felt something crawling on my heat.  Hat and bug went flying as I let out a yell.  It was a harmless beetle but still I dislike it crawling on my head. 

When you think that you need more or do not have enough think of how these people live.  And they are a lot more joyful and happy then most of us our.  I would like to bottle their joyful laughter.

I have pictures but I can not get them to download here in town at the computer cafe.  Will try later.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Moma Lidia From The Orphanage

A very tiney woman has been to visit us several times. She comes dressed in a traditional konga wrapped skirt, large draping scarf cascading from her shoulders. and a turbin head covering. All fabrics are in many bright wonderfull colors and patterns making her look even tinier.

Lidia works at the baby orphanage helping to take care of the babies. The baby orphanage is about a half miles down the dirt road heading back to Bakoba. At the present time there are around twenty-five babies there. Babies are brought to the orphanage when the mother has died and the father, extended family, or village can not take care of them. A lot of times it is because the mother has Aids and no medical care and has passed away from that. This mesns tht the babies could very well be HIV possitive when they arrive.

It is hard work taking care of these babies and the staff is quite small. Maybe four or five at the most to cover a twenty-four hour period of time. Hard to hold all the babies when they need to be held with so few arms.

Lidia works all night every night to care for the babies. She has been working at the orphanage since 1975. She makes 1800 tish per month. That is $1.08 in american money per month.

Lidia is getting old and knows she will not be able to work for many more years. She wants to build a house for herself back in her home village. She would then have a place to go where her family will be around her.

The house Lidia wants to build is nothing like what we know as a house. She want three rooms in it. The whole house would probably fit inside of a space smaller then 20x20 feet. There would be no running water. No toilets, no electricity. She wants doors and windows that she can close in her house also.

In american dollars it will cost $5000 to build her house. Lidia has been saving half of her monthly wage to build her house for quite some time. That is she is saving 900 tish a month, which is 54 cents. You do he math. At 54 cents a month how long will it take her to save up the $5000. By the way that is 3,800,000 tish.

This is the norm not the exception here.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Thurday May 23

This morning we woke up to the "tricker treat-tricker treat-tricker treat bird. We had freshed squeezed pinapple, orange, and papia juice. Yum! We ate hard boiled eggs and fresh bread. While we were eating we heard loud singing and music playing outdoors. It was the Chior from the church. They were recording in the yard next door. All dressed up and singing and dancing to church music at eight thirty in the morning. What a treat. I tried to record it so we will see what has happened.

I could not get on the internet tonight even though we had borrowed a motem. Just not enough bars comming in on the motem to bring ineither the gmail or my blog. That is the way it is here.

So onward. I will write for the blog (for the third time tonight because I lost the last two before I could save it.)

Tuesday I taught a class in watercolor. They learned the what primary and secondary colors were and how to mix them. Some of them were so excited that thy could now mix there own paint colors that they kept going for two hours mixing and documenting their paints. Then they could paint anything they wanted to.

Wed. Carolee and I had a driver take us to Bakoba to shop. The only paper the children have seen was there note book paper with lines on it. In watercolor class I had brought some very good paper for them. On Thursday I taught drawing so we did not need good paper. I found decent printing paper for computers and I bought a whole bunch of that. I learned from a teacher (Mr. Roberts) that he wanted the students to learn about print making. So I am scrounging card board and found twine rope in town, With the white paint I found in town and the pigment I brought from home we will cobble together a printmaking class for next week. Sat. I am going to have an open studio so all the students who did not get to work with watercolors or learn drawing will have chance to come and try it out.

Tomorrow We are going to Ndologe Hospital. I am going to try and start a mural in the childrens area. Hopefully I will be able to get back and get it painted.

























Monday, May 20, 2013

Ntoma Vocational School

The land here is undulating, and grassy with clumps of trees. Many many banana trees and surprisingly a variety of fur trees are everywhere. There re several types of banana. The smallest are the sweetest ones. The bananas are given as gifts when people meet and visit here.

Relationships and greeting are very importanct in Tanzania. There is a whole conversation of greeting that is had before anyone sits down to have a conversation.

Lake Victoria is down a very large hill from the school. It is five miles winding up this hill on a red dirt road from Bakoba. The road had many ruts and large whole that all the drivers wind around from side to side. The school is made up of many building and about 6 houses where the staff lives. No running water because all of the water storage tanks have cracks in them and no one knows how to fix them.

We are in a little two bedroom house. The floors are cement. There is no air conditioning, windows are opened with screens all over the house. There is a nice breeze all of the time. There are banana, avocado, and papia trees outside our are windows. 

We arrived here on .Thursday and have spent the rest of the last week resting from our trip.  We have also been building relationships with the staff and the students here.  There are 105 youth in the vocational school. They are being taught skills in restaurants work, hotel work, office work, cooking and sewing.

They are all excited about learning art of any kind.  They are really exited about the computers. Communication here is very hard.  They do not have what we call wifi.  They have modems. 
they also do not have electricity all the time.  We had an outage last night that lasted all night.  They are predicting that there is going to be another one today.  So I am working fast to finish this. When the power is on we plug things in to try and juice everything up fast.

Coondi (the chef for the school) took me to Bkoba Saturday so I could exchange money and use the internet cafe to email out. A young German woman who is teaching here for a year went with us.  Bakoba is about as big as Lebanon, Ohio (100,000 people).  The downtown is easily walked if you have good shoes and strong legs.   It was all a lot of fun.  Nothing is flat.  There are cement water run off ditches everywhere you have to step or leap across, depending on how wide they are.  No constant steps up or down.  Everything is cobbled together from what was available when they built the street we were waking on.

We went to two banks and the lines were very long in both of them.  Our German teacher said that we could exchange money at the white mans grocery store.  So that is what we did.  Coonda made sure I was not cheated and we were all happy.  They white man's grocery is run my and Indian and is about 20x20  feet squire.  It sells a lot of brands we know at a very high price.

We then went to the outdoor market.  It has many many little booths that do not look like they could stand but do and they are full of every kind of fruit and vegatable you can imagine.  Mounds of green bananas that were cut from the trees and are attached still to the huge stalks.  They are all so close together that it is hard to go down the middle of them.  Everyone is telling you about there products, of course. everyone is dressed in wonderful African clothes with bright colors fabrics and designs. 

The food is quite differant then we have at home.  A lot of the fish are dried and then ooked.  Lot of the vegitables are stir fried.  They eat way more carbs at a meal then we are used to. Sometimes we are not able to eat all they give us.  Our kitcheon does not work so they bring food to us three times a day.  They bring us juices everyday.  They are freshed squized and yummy.  Freshed sqeezed pinaple juice is the best.

I will end now and tell you about the church service next time.  Plus I want to try and do  pictures also.

Love to all for now.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

First Impressions

After a very long an arduous trip that included two stops and three planes we landed in Entebbe, Uganda on Wed. at noon. Thanks to a very kind young Ugandan women we had litte trouble getting through customs and retreaving our luggage.

Father Fredric met us at the entrance with another Father and a sister. They had brought a truck with a back seat. The luggage was all wrapped and tied in the back and we all piled into the vehicle. Carolee, the nun and I were but check to but check in the back seat. I had my backpack on my lap because ther was no other room for it.

There is a feast of experiances going on as you travel around by car in Ugand and Tanzania. First they have the steering wheel on the right side of the car and drive on the left side of the road, most of the time, or should I say quite a bit of the time.

The streets are pretty much only two lanes but seems to not matter. I think that I would not of been as calm at I was if I had been setting in the front seat. We seemed to fly down the road swerving around other slow large vehicles, people on moter bikes, bicykles and walkers The problem is that the vehiles coming toward you are doing the same thing. So quit a bit of the time you are facing several cars, trucks and motor bikes coming right at you. Everyone seems to be able to sort themselves out getting around each other before the next layer of vehicles come at you.

Add to this experiance the outdoor markets that are open everywhere you are trveling on all the roads. It is like all the stores have been turned inside out. The bright color of the merchndise, the clothes that people are wearing, the kinds and veriaty of all that is for sale just a few feet from us as we make our road dance with the cars heading at us,

Now add to this that they use cows and goats to eat the grass because there are no lawn mowers. They do not need them. They have cows and goats to eat there grass. And the cows have big giant horns which they are fliping around when they move there head right next to the vehicle you are in driving down the road dodging the cars, trucks, motor cycle and people coming straight at you trying to get around slow moving everything else but you.

The roads in Unganda are mostly paved. Where they are not we travel on gravel roads and red dirt roads that hae lots of big holes in that you wonder how the vehicle that you are traveling in can even not fall in them, except I think we are flying over them.

Crossing the border was quit interesting. We were met there by the Asistant to the Bishop of Northwestern Synod of the Lutheran Church of Tanzania, his wife and a a jeep.

The road at the border was not paved. It had rained, the road is packed red mud and it was a forist of semi's lined up to cross in both directions. We weaved are way around the big vehicles trying to stay out of the big holes in the road.

We had to stop on the Uganda side, fill out paperwork and be approved to leave . Then we walked across the border while our vehicle traversed between the big trucks and entered the building for Tanzania. We fild out the information on the Tanzanian side had everything approved and had our fingureprints didgitally taken. I had that done three times in twenty-four hours. Interesting!

We then found place to have to two vehicles park so the luggage can be transfered from the truck to the top of the jeep. Then we all five piled into the jeep and finished the trip to the vocational school.
I am having a great amount of trouble getting on the computer and the phone..  trying to work them out.  Please share with Paul so he can also share with the rest of my family.  Got lots to tell.

Next will be about the school and the people.
love sharen