What a day! I was so worried about not fitting in or meeting anyone, but that quickly changed. I wanted to show how willing I was to get acclimated to my surroundings, so I told Nina last night that I wanted to go to a few of the project sites. Lucky for me the large, Danish group that is here just arrived a few days ago so it was their first day out on the different projects. Team leaders generally escort the volunteers on their first day anyway, so it worked out. They were as nervous as I was as we walked down the dirt road for about 30 minutes. Ann, an English woman, has been here for about 2 weeks and she walked with Vivian, Christian, and me until the road split – Ann went to a nursery and we walked to the left and found One School. The school was nice according to African standards. There were 4 classrooms with children packed in each. We met the Headmaster and found 3 other English girls and an older English woman painting some swings and a slide. They just needed to be freshened up a bit. Vivian and Christian were thrown right into a classroom, helping one of the teachers correct the students’ English – though the teacher was not always correct! I ended up helping with the painting and had a great time getting to know the English group.
We headed back to the volunteer house around 11:00 to wash up and have lunch. I wasn’t really hungry, but I knew I needed some carbs from all the walking we had been doing. They had chips – that is fries for us Americans – and some chicken and a fresh salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. I am still weary of leafy greens, and I wasn’t interested in meat, so I dug into the chips! I have heard that many things that are cooked here are fried, so I will need to be careful!
After relaxing with the volunteers – and several liters of water later – I felt so much more comfortable and was ready to do some more! With four volunteers we headed to a new project that Nina sought out recently – another 30 minute walk. The project was at a fairly wealthy school that would bring in street children and orphans in the afternoon. But when we got there we quickly saw there were no children…and we soon found out the person Nina had been in contact with did not bother to let others running the school know. She had to explain – several times – who Art in Tanzania was, what we did, and why we did these things. In the end it worked out and they told us to come back on Monday and they would have kids there.
Lack of communication is common in Africa. It is hard to get things done around here because people don’t share information and people don’t have the basic necessities to share these things. Word of mouth is essentially the only way Art in Tanzania lets the community know that a new project has developed. I haven’t experience it yet, but I can see how this could be very frustrating.
We rounded out the afternoon with a “staff meeting” at Kari’s house. Kari is Finnish and is the founder of Art in Tanzania. He lives in one of these giant homes in the area. We sat in his living room on a couch while kids were running around and people were in and out of the house. Nina had a list of things and I added something if I felt it was important.
The biggest issue was future placement of team leaders. Nina will be traveling to Zanzibar and I will be going to Arusha and Karatu. They are about nine hours north of here so I will have to take a bus. I am excited because it will be much cooler there, not as many mosquitoes, and there won’t be as many volunteers at any given time. It is also very close to the Serengeti and Mt. Kilimanjaro so I know it will be beautiful! I will not have internet on site, but from what I understand it is very close by. It will also be more like a house than a hotel – what I am currently living in. Kari says that Karatu is brand new and no one has lived there yet. I will update as soon as I know when I leave.
We walked home and I was totally exhausted. I had a snack bar Mom packed for me, and before I could even debate whether I wanted to take a shower or not, the power went out. Oh well! What can you do? I mingled with volunteers and anxiously awaited dinner. Man was it worth it! It was some type of curry – pretty spicy – with white rice and then slices of banana for a treat. It was so good. The lights came on soon after, but I was too exhausted to do anything but fall in bed. It is so hot at night, even with a fan it can be hard to get comfortable. It is also easy to forget that I am sleeping inside a mosquito net!
Ah, but at the end of the day I am just grateful that I have a bed to sleep on.
FUN FACT: Did you know that the sister city of Arusha is Durham, North Carolina?