A Travellerspoint blog

Turning 30 in Moshi Tanzania

My 30th birthday - one of the best! :) May 19th 2011

sunny 28 °C
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I woke up early to open presents and cards that I had been given to me by friends in the UK – so organized and thoughtful! I then got ready for my run and headed to the lounge and was met with banners and streamers and Monika and Nellie sang me happy birthday!

The lounge and dining room decorated <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

The lounge and dining room decorated :)

I headed out for my run which is about 3 miles, it is a great route that I do most days but I don’t often get a perfect view of the snow cap on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro but today I was in luck with a lovely view!

The view of kili from my run!

The view of kili from my run!

My English classes went really well – Thursdays is debate day which is always really fun – the topic of the day was volunteering and how it effects the students and their experiences with volunteering. The purpose of the class is for the students to practice there English, develop their self confidence and to express an opinions. I always learn a lot in the class as well and its great to hear so many different opinions.

At the end of school we had our usually weekly meeting, after we had shared the announcements with the students Monika told them all that it was my birthday, proceeded by Michelle appearing with the most beautiful birthday cake. Everyone then sang me happy birthday in English – with an extra verse! During celebrations in Tanzania it is traditional to feed all the guests cake with tooth picks –the most common utensil here! So we cut the cake into small pieces and I then fed everyone! Very funny and a fantastic experience :)

After a quick lunch the children for kids club arrived, they come every Monday and Thursday there was 10 kids today which is more than we have had in a while.. They are all such bundles of fun – most of them are filthy dirty, bored out of their minds all day so they love coming to the school and learning and playing . I taught them a few English games – stuck in the mud, duck, duck goose and sleeping lions (my fav its so quiet!) They also all got birthday cake :)

duck, duck goose

duck, duck goose

Sleeping lions

Sleeping lions

the kids

the kids

That evening we headed out for a meal at the local hotel, there was 10 of us all the volunteers and some local friends, it was lovely although because it is low season here at mo we were the only people there! After about an hour and half I suddenly saw the pizza chef appear – they have special pizza fires here.. we realized they hadn’t even started the cooking yet! haha we ate pretty late but the pizza and wine were lovely!

I don’t feel any older but it feels pretty crazy to be 30! :)

What a fantastic place to celebrate :)

Posted by angcoleman 10:29 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Memorial– home to the second hand clothes sales in Moshi

Ever wondered where your Goodwill donations go.. read on!!

overcast 27 °C
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The majority of people in Tanzania either wear Kanga or a similar thinner cloth or used second hand clothes from the Western world. There are new clothes available but they are too expensive for most people here. The clothes are shipped over from USA, Canada and England.

GHTA received a large donation of clothes from a former volunteers company a few weeks ago – the post here isn’t great so it took a long time to get here and then got stuck in customs for a while as they were adamant more tax should be paid.. corruption is everywhere! Even in DHL! Monika decided to give all of the clothes to a former student Lavina for her to start a used clothing stall at the local used clothes market – Memorial.

Lavina actually failed her final exams at GHTA but tried hard, she missed a lot of school as her husband tragically died on week 2 of school from malaria leaving Lavina with no income and 2 children to look after, a story I hear so much here.. She is a lovely lady and thanks to this donation has an opportunity to start a business!

On Saturday we went to visit her at the market to see how she was getting on and what her future plans are. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take many photos as Monika advised against it, a former volunteer almost got arrested taking photos there so I decided not too.. okay maybe I took a few sneaky ones!

The market was hectic, so many people and so many used clothes! The clothes stalls were made out of wood with clothes hanging everywhere, you had to duck or walk through the clothes to get past the stalls – kind of like busy washing lines!! There was also clothes dumped in piles on Tarpalling sheets – perspective customers where crouching down sorting through what was there – totally bizarre I’ve no idea why it wasn’t all sorted out!

Lavina had a sheet on the ground with her stuff on, she had sold all the stuff from Europe and had since bought more. Apparently the clothes are shipped over to Dar already in large bags, bought by an organization they are then transported to major cities. Once received in Moshi they are sold on twice a week in a pot luck fashion – the Memorial vendors buy bags and will not know the contents and how sellable it is until it is opened. The contents of the bag is then marked up and sold to the cliental at the market.

Memorial market - Lavina's stall

Memorial market - Lavina's stall

Nellie and Lavina at Memorial pre sorting her stall!

Nellie and Lavina at Memorial pre sorting her stall!

Monika and I started sorting through the jumble and I found a nice purple suit at the bottom with a cute matching strappy top, I put it together and layed it out and within a minute we had a customer . I find that there is limited creative thinking here, all the stalls were very similar none particularly stood out and no one was trying anything new to attract customers.

After sorting out Lavina’s stall we headed to look around, we passed a shoe stall with some nice high heels, I then spotted a Goodwill sticker on one!! (for UK readers this is the donation place in USA for unwanted clothes) Then I realized the majority of this stall came from Goodwill.. um if you ever wondered where that donation went it probably went to this very market in Tanzania, but while you give it away for free money has changed many hands to get it to here!! OMG I felt sick! Goodwill did so well out of me when I left the USA…

On route home we swung by our cleaners house, also a former student Hidaya – aka Mumma Joseph – all mothers are known by the name of there eldest or most popular child rather than their given name! She has 2 children and lives in a very cosy house. We were welcomed in (karibune – welcome in Swahili) for bananas and Chai tea. her 2 boys are so sweet – Joseph and Jeffery.

Mumma Joseph and her boys!!

Mumma Joseph and her boys!!

They are both just recovering from illness, one had malaria and was in hospital and the other had a serious bug from the water. They seemed fighting fit when I got there tho and was happy to pose for photos for me!!

The boys and their cute cousin doing thumbs up <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

The boys and their cute cousin doing thumbs up :)

Posted by angcoleman 10:08 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Teaching Time

"Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.”


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In Tanzania they tell time very differently to us in the Western world - it is the only country in the world (i think) that does :)

The locals call it Swahili time and it is 6 hours behind the Western clock.. So its dirrectly opposite the clock we know and love.. The day starts at our Western 6am (GMT-2) - their 12 so school starts at 9am for us but for our Tanzanian students its 3 bizarre! They also have a 12 hour clock rather than 24 and dont use am or pm

So me and Panena (my translator) had the fun task over the last week or so to teach the top English set time, they learn Swahili time in primary school but Western time isn't taught till a lot later and as they dont have secondary school they have never learnt it before!

We took them through the basics, gave them the rules and we were getting blank faces still, they were really making it harder than it is, but i guess if you have being telling time for your whole life one way you are not going to catch on quickly to a different way! So there was only one thing for it.. I stood at the front of the class pretending I was a clock! hahaha with a long hand and short hand it was a riot but they finally got it! haha!

We did a few games to make sure they understood it, I made them each paper clocks, they had to set their clock to the correct time and I made it a race.. they are all so competitive! This went well until I gave them 3 quarters past 2 .. they all set it their clocks to 2:45 and I told them they were all wrong :) which made them all mad and then they realised and started laughing :) they all have their mid term exams on Monday so hopefully they have finally got it and will all do well on that section..

Posted by angcoleman 08:19 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Gloria’s First day at secondary school

Education is such a gift here in Tanzania

rain 23 °C
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GHTA found sponsors for a former student Gloria a 20 year old girl from a village outside Moshi. She has older and younger brothers and sisters that are at secondary school but due to money she didn’t go… it seems to happen a lot some children get to go within a family and some children are not – we are so lucky to all be educated to at least secondary school level!

Last week Monika and I had a meeting with Gloria’s neighbour a secondary school English teacher, his English was Okay on basic conversation but as soon as we asked him a question that was slightly off subject he really struggled to comprehend the question and answer it – and this guy teaches the subject!?! I asked him how long he had been teaching and he told me he was 35 years old.. This teacher told us of the school he was recommending Gloria went to and gave us the forms. The cost is 700,000 a year (280 GBP)

Monika, Gloria and I jumped in Kasanders taxi and headed to the school,

Gloria our student in the taxi ready to leave!

Gloria our student in the taxi ready to leave!

It had been raining hard for 14 hours, the main roads where fine but the roads up to the villages were mud baths, they are just dirt roads and as soon as it rains it is like driving on ice, you skate everywhere. We made it about 15 mins up the first road bumping the suspension terribly as we went, up and down pot holes and skidding in the mud until we all decided the road was impossible and we should go back.. We heard there was an alternative road so we all crossed our fingers and headed that way. The road was still as bumpy and uneven but it was just driveable!

We saw a dalla dalla (local mini van) stuck in a ditch with about 15 passengers standing around.. there was a 4x4 trying to pull the Dalla Dalla with the passengers pushing ( including a heavily pregnant women!) but they were actually just pushing it further into the ditch!  Kasander organized them to push the van diagonally and they got it out!

The Dallah Dallah!!

The Dallah Dallah!!

We arrived at the school to be greated by one of the teachers and a lot of the students “mzungo’s (white people) coming to visit obviously doesn’t happen very often! We were ushered into the office to sort out the fees hand over the garden hoe (!) apparently the students garden in their free time.. We then asked to see the dorm, initially he said no but then agreed..

We headed to the girls area via the classrooms – they were pretty shocking – there was holes in the walls for windows and bars on them. There was a large blackboard at the front and wooden desks and benches for the students.. a far cry from a secondary school classroom in the western world!

The classroom

The classroom

The Classroom with the big blackboard

The Classroom with the big blackboard

A small part of the school - notice the mud bath onfront of the classrooms..

A small part of the school - notice the mud bath onfront of the classrooms..

The teacher pointed out the girls shower and toilet block which was situated away from the dorms over a small bridge.. don’t fancy crossing that for the loo in the night!!

The girls quarters

The girls quarters

The dorms were very similar to the classrooms except full of bunk beds rather than desks and blackboards, very dark and dingy with no home comforts for the girls living in their, We are not totally sure where Gloria was staying but we think in the totally packed dorm next door which we didn’t get let into but looked like there wasn’t even any standing room between the bunk beds. We met some of the girls who board there and they seem nice enough, although I imagine there is a lot of bullying..

The dorm - this was fifth and sixth form more spacious as so little students pass there form four exams.. Glorias dorm much more packed..

The dorm - this was fifth and sixth form more spacious as so little students pass there form four exams.. Glorias dorm much more packed..

We went back out the front to say our final goodbyes to Gloria, who had remained pretty silent through the visit, hopefully she doesn’t get too much grief from the other kids for us dropping her off - we were quite a spectacle for the other kids! She was definitely very nervous and as we said goodbye I could tell she was pretty emotional!

Gloria infornt of the school

Gloria infornt of the school

Me and Gloria :-)

Me and Gloria :-)

What was suprising was her mum and dad didn’t join us to take her and hadn’t even contacted Monika to ask any questions about where she was going, who was sending her or for how long.. so bizarre! Gloria only has a month before school holidays so we will see her again soon to see how it is going. The NGO sponsors 7 students now – education is such a luxury here.. Before the students start they write their sponsors a letter, this is Glorias.. so sweet!!

The letter - so sweet!

The letter - so sweet!

Unfortunately the education system is totally corrupt here like everything else and the Government failed over 90% of all secondary school students last year, the only way to pass was to pay the teacher, school and the Government for a re-mark.. so unfair!!

Posted by angcoleman 07:56 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Home visit number 2

Two of our youngest students

overcast 28 °C
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Friday is home visit day but this Friday was special as we had 3 visits to make!

Firstly we went to the local nursery school for children of 4 and over Upendo – Monika is sponsoring a little boy Mkombozi, he lives near the first location GHTA based itself Shanti before moving to the current location Usrika.

Mkombozi holding his fingers

Mkombozi holding his fingers

Monika is unsure what happened to Mkombozi’s dad, his mum works in a local hotel and is not really around so he lives with his grandmother who also works long days. They live in a half finished house with no running water, toilet or even a roof. He is a very shy little boy but has a lovely nature. He is pretty much left to fend for himself all day and has therefore not developed skills in confidence and playing with other children. Three weeks ago Monika enrolled him in school and this was the first visit. We are hoping he will develop confidence and start to play and join in with his other class mates.

We left this visit to go to our current students’ house she is 24 years old and lives with her ‘husband’ in the police quarters. She is not married like a lot of the women here but she lives with this man and calls him her husband. She has a child of 2 and also a little sister of 6 or 7 that takes care of her child when she is at school (!) unbelievable what a responsibility..

Our students baby

Our students baby

We sat down in the sitting room a spacious room with 2 sofas and a large fridge (nothing inside). We met her little sister who seemed like a very serious child – probably not a surprise, we found out she is not in school and no one in the family has any money to send her.. I took the sister out of the room to play with her and could hardly generate a smile but I could tell she was happy to be in my company.

Always has a smile on her face!

Always has a smile on her face!

We were then served Chapati (bread) and chai tea which we all enjoyed – Michelle was feeding chapatti to the two little ones who were very appreciative as there breakfast was like a grey lumpy porridge made with flour rather than oats apparently a normal breakfast food here.

Young sister eating Tanzania porridge

Young sister eating Tanzania porridge

We asked our student what her life aspirations where – she is not sure yet – she is really struggling in English but is very keen to succeed – she has a lovely nature and is very happy to be at school. We asked her about her set up with her “husband” and in Swahili she told us that she was not happy and didn’t feel safe. She said that her husband drinks a lot and at one point had tried to kill her – we were so shocked with what she was saying. She told us that she tried to leave but her husbands friends in the police found her mother and requested her back and she agreed.. Hopefully the NGO is going to do something for her to get her to a women’s refuge or help her fund a room for her, her sister and the baby.. Such a sad story for such a young beautiful women.

so sweet!

so sweet!

The third visit was to Tabitha a 21 year old student (our youngest) she lives with her parents and her sister and 2 brothers. Tabitha is a lovely student she lacks confidence and hides behind her hands when she speaks in class; she said that she is feeling a lot more confident than at the start of school already – I am looking forward to her coming out of her shell more as the weeks go by!
Tabitha lives in a small courtyard with shacks they have 3 rooms, the rooms all have a shared roof and the walls don’t reach the ceiling so there is totally no privacy between rooms and they are surrounded by people that aren’t even family.. When we arrived the neighbours music was on, it was pretty loud – then after 10 mins of talking the other neighbours music went on.. it was so loud then that you could hardly think or talk and we were a meter apart. Tabitha and her mum didn’t react immediately so I guessed this was a regular occurrence… I was wondering how Tabitha can study with that going on?!

Tabitha and her smile! <img class='img' src='http://www.travellerspoint.com/Emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Tabitha and her smile! :)

Tabitha told us that she dreams of being a nurse or a teacher, it is nice to see that she has such clarity already! We asked her why she hadn’t gone to secondary school and she said there was no money for her even though her older brothers had gone.. Her mother works as a preacher at the local church and her father transports rice to the local factory for processing. Tabitha found out about the school when working as a house girl (cleaner) for a richer women in town so now we are educating her and hopefully she can reach her potential and find a sponsor to get her through secondary school and university.

If you are interested in donating or sponsoring any of our students please see further information at www.giveahearttoafrica.org

Posted by angcoleman 09:35 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

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