Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Big Move

     Leaving RVCV was hard for me. Two days before I left we had the end of semester teacher's dinner party. I gave a thank you speech and then all the teachers got in a big line and sang to me as they paraded around teasing me with presents. At that point I realized that these teachers have become my family. They brought me in with open arms and we worked together as colleges and as friends. I miss their smiles, I miss playing cards with them in the teacher's office, I miss them trying to make me eat bread and tea everyday.
     RVCV was a great place for me to start exploring Tanzania. It was a place where I made strong connections, with other westerns, with Tanzanians, and most importantly with children. It is a crazy feeling when you love a child. A child from another another country, another family, another culture. I miss those kids as much they drove me up the wall sometimes. I miss their good mornings as I stumbled out of bed half awake. I miss their ability to get me to turn back into a kid. With kids you have to just laugh. You have to appreciated how they look at the world. These kids had their worlds crushed when they lost their families. Yet they are the ones smiling and playing everyday.
      But all things must come to an end. I knew it was time for me to grow and 'get uncomfortable' again. It is important to shake things up, to be scared, to try new things. And that is what I did. I was scared leaving RVCV, getting in the bus to go to Arusha. By myself, with only my belongings, and a hope that my new home would be a good one.
     And here I am. I am now living in Tengeru, 15km outside Arusha center. It just takes a quick pikipiki (motorcycle) ride to a dolla dolla to get into city center. The total of that trip 1,400 shillings or a little under a dollar.
     For the next three and a half months I will be living and teaching at Peace Matunda school/orphanage. Two weeks ago I starting teaching Standard 4 and 5 math in the mornings. In the afternoons I work on either the volunteer program or school development. The school has accomplished so much in a short time but has a way to go. I started developing a disciplinary code to provide more structure for the school. I am also helping to start a teacher to teacher observation program so that they can starting learning from each other. PM is lucky to have so many donations from western countries but the key is showing the teachers how manipulatives work and how differentiating curriculum can help kids learn. That last sentence is a long term goal. It is very complicated coming into a school and trying to help. I am coming into their culture and their school. I cant forget learning goes both ways.

Some new things for me here at Peace Matunda:

  • I hand wash all my cloths. I have already learned that waiting two and a half weeks to do laundry is a BAD idea. My hands are raw after spending 5 hours on laundry the last two days. I now appreciate washing machines.
  • Don't pet Itchy. Itchy is the PM dog and has that name for a reason. After a few flee bites I have learned that even though I miss having a dog...its just not worth it.
  • I can't say I am from the East Coast anymore. At night and in the mornings it is SO COLD. I found myself one night in full sweats, hat, scarf and layers underneath....under 3 blankets...yeah it was 50 degrees.
  • WEAR sunglasses while riding on the back of a pikpiki. No matter if it rains or not the roads are so dusty. I get off the pikipiki and have a line of dirt around my sunglass rims.
  • Instead of ugi time (porridge) for snack at school, Peace Matunda has banana time! I am surrounded by fields and fields of bananas!!!
  • Roosters do not know what time it is....ever.

***Little to no internet here and I am working my butt off so probably will not blog often...this one was for you Dad!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2 Weeks Left!

Sorry for such a delay. No internet for days and a super busy schedule with school closing in less than two weeks!

Here are some updates:

The Little Man
Nuru is the little boy in the red jacket.
Nuru is a little 5 year old boy in preschool here at RVCV. He is a KLR kid which means "Kids Living with Relatives". Nuru walks over 2 miles up and down trails and through coffee fields to come to RVCV every day. Everyday at 4 PM Nuru waits for the kids from school to walk him part of the way home. For over a month now, the kids from school have been forgetting him. He sits and waits and no one comes. The directors at RVCV have asked volunteers to help walk him home. One day Leah, a volunteer, saw Nuru waiting yet again. She asked him if he wanted her to walk him home. Tears filled his eyes and five of us ended up walking him home that day. On the walk home a drunk man tried to take him home with him. I explained that he was with us. No wonder Nuru is scared to walk home alone. He is only 5. He lives with his elderly grandmother, somewhere between 7-10 kids, and his older brother and girlfriend, who do whatever they please in the one room shack. He is a very quiet boy. I pray for the best for him.

Neema and I at the Track and Field Meet. 

Girls in Skirts
I was talking to one of the female teachers the other day and she commented on my jeans that I was wearing to the track meet. She asked why I was not wearing a skirt and I told her frankly I am tired of skirts and its a sporting event! She is a government employed teacher and she said that by law, she must wear a skirt to teach in. What year is it??

Alex (in green) ready to start his 400m.
Everyone runs barefoot.

Track and Field Debacle
So I have decided that I am totally going to become that crazy parent that gets kicked out of my children's sporting events. I lost it this weekend after 3 days of Track and Field and Sporting Matches for all the schools in our District.  I will write more about my weekend later- class now!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

4 More Weeks!

I looked up today while getting my lessons ready. Everyday I sit in the teacher's office. I study swahili, get ready for classes, play cards, drink tea, say the swahili hellos and how are you.

Sometimes I forget where I am. I get in such a routine. I forget that I am in Tanzania. I have Tanzanian students, I encounter Tanzanian problems. I still have ringworm (months now), my feet are so hard I call them my permanent 'summer feet.'

Ava and Baraka (teacher and student teacher) playing some sweet music!!
i forget that I am here because I am so comfortable here. Over 400 students, their  siblings in the villages, they all smile and say Jill, Jill! The children, their families, teachers, everyone, though they have nothing have given so much to me. I am so thankful for everyone here.

I am have four more weeks here at RVCV before I move to Arusha. I promise to live every moment and show appreciation to everyone here that has made this feel like home while I am so far away from my own.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Big Announcement!

It is official! I am staying to teach at another school until Christmas time in Arusha! I will be teaching at Peace Matunda School, English and Mathematics for the older standards. And I get paid!! WahoO!! I am so excited to be living in Arusha on the bottom of Mt. Meru. Peace Matunda is also an orphanage. It is much smaller then RVCV with around only 30 kids. It is Tanzanian owned, and funded primary through safaris, Kilimanjaro climbs, and the Cicely Foundation. 

So here is the official invite for everyone to come to TZ and stay with me!! I will be here for over a year total! Come, come!! Safaris, TZ culture…it's awesome!

Here are some pictures from school this last week! We have been inside a lot because of the rain, so here is Std 7 watching a soccer match. In another class I showed the Green Mountain Boys ski videos. It was most of the kids first time to see skiing! Watching them see someone do a flip on skis was hilarious! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Some things I have noticed about the kids...

They prefer playing with only one shoe or no shoes. They are better playing barefoot. So I spend half the class making sure they have their shoes on so they don't get more worms in their feet. Playing without shoes hurts..don't know how they do it.

They play sports with pens and pencils in their pockets because they are so afraid if they leave them in the classroom, someone will steal them. It becomes super dangerous playing with pens in your me.

A company from the US but based in Nairobi came and donated two wind turbines. Which is awesome because now that is the raining season, solar just isn't cutting it! Here are some pictures!