Sunday, January 23, 2011

The power of a question!

This is my fourth month at site. I have finished my analysis of the village and now have begun my "work". Coming off of a long trip with friends and coming back to the village was difficult. To begin with most people are off at their farms working hard all day long because the rain has started. Also, being surronded by Americans who speak english all day long to come back to speaking Kiswahili all day long is exhausting. The last and probably the hardest part was knowing that the holiday season happened at home, and I missed it. This realization did not occur until shortly after returning to site.
I have now begun a few different projects. I am teaching health at the elementary school near my house. My first lesson was last week and I thought AIDS/HIV with my counterpart Benny. It went well, and I think the kids learned alot. During that process I learned my Kiswahili skills were better than I thought, but still need alot of work. I want to continue this class for a couple of months and see where it takes me.
I have also began a soccer club after school at the high school. This wednesday we are going to have a interclass competition so we shall see how that turns out. The teacher I am working with is really motivated, and wants to play otehr schools. I dont think I will be needed there as a leader for long! Sustainability is a beautiful thing.
Thirdly I have been tutoring my neighbor most days after school. He comes over after I finish eating and I am exhausted and asks me to teach him on Math, physics, and some chemistry. So far I have not reached anything I have not seen before, but it is a great review for me too. I think I might talk to the head teacher about maybe teaching a class a week or something just to help pass the time.
Fourth I am working with a couple of villagers on a bussiness plan for a tourism bussiness. This is kind of frustrating because we are all busy but want to get this off the ground and rolling. I think I just need to set goals for the group so we are more focused on a final goal.
Finally I am working with some of the other volunteers in the region on writing a grant for a young mans conference. It is alot more work then I thought to write a grant.
I am also training for a half mararthon right now. I am going through an 8-week training that is kicking my butt. If you have seen some of my facebook posts, I am enjoying myself but again harder than I expected.
The first couple weeks back at site were draining and frustrating. I was down in the dumps and started to cut people off. First it was people back at home, then other peace corps volunteers. We were focused on writing this grant for nine people, and after talking with my boss we decided to lower the number to five peacecorps volunteers. Things were just not going my way. I showed up to play soccer one night, and no one including the teacher was there. I was sitting in church today trying to figure out what the priest was saying and thinking about living here in Tanzania. After three and half hours of mass (these children came and sang and danced for and hour and a half) I was about done. I know that exercise always helps to clear my mind and brighten my spirits. It wasnt helping I was getting frustrated with myself because I was tired way before I expected to be.
I began to walk and saw a group of girls walking. They looked afraid which is not out of the ordinary for a Tanzanians who have not been around alot of white people before. They slowly come up to me and ask me for money in Kiswahili. I was like great this just puts the cap on the day. So I joke with them in Kiswahili asking them for money and candy. Finally another girl walks up and says in Kiswahili "Are you a African or a foreigner?" I had the biggest smile on my face. It totally turned my attitude upside down. I am back on cloud nine, and ready to work. Being accepted into the community has been a major strugle with me, but a work in progress and now I see progress.
Love and miss you all

Thursday, December 30, 2010

First Holiday Season Away From Home!

It has been awhile since I have added anything to my blog, and that is because I have been staying pretty busy. I also have not responded to emails (Sorry) I will get to them soon. The begining of my adventure was a two week training with the PeaceCorps. It was called out In-Service Training. I was nervous to come back together with all the volunteers who I spent two months with then was separated. It was so nice to see everyone and hear about the good and the bad times people were having. It all closely resembled eachother. For the first week we talked alot about the issues we have been having in our villages, how to write grants, we all presented our analysis of the village, and had some updates on various teaching skills. For the second half of the training we were able to bring one of our villagers. I brought my neighbor how is 20 years old, and he got so much out of the training. He was able to recieve some training on health issues, also learned what made Americans act the way they do, and various skills to help him and me work better together. I am so glad he was able to come, I think he took alot from the experience and will use it for the rest of his life.
After training I had to go back to the capitol city to get a check up on my tooth. The guy took an x-ray and all is well. He said as long as I am not in pain, he doesn't see anything wrong. That made my day and allowed me to be alittle more relaxed going into Christmas vacation.
A group of us decided to spend our Christmas on Mafia island. If you look it up on the internet you will find a resort that costs lots of money. Don't be fooled, we did not stay there. We were trying to save money and still have a good time so we stayed on the no developed side. In order to get to the island we had to take a small van for 4 hours than hop on a ferry for another 4.5 hours before we arrived in "paradise". We were staying at a hotel that was old and kind of beat up, cracks in the walls you know the type. It was cheap. We soon found out that they shut the electricty off at 7am in the morning (that means no vacation naps under a fan) and for most of the days shut the water off to, so no showers until late at night. It was paradise because we were living in a village and were able to get cheap deals on almost everything. I loved that part! One of the days we decided to go swimming with the whale sharks. I think most of you have heard the story, but we decided to go with a man who claimed to have worked with the coral reef conservation or something. He gave us a good deal so once again I had a big smile on my face. We are getting on the boat then he tells us he is not coming out his workers will take good care of us. We all load into a small boat push off to go board the bigger boat. At this time the tide is starting to rise because they HAD to have tea and bread before they left. We get in the bigget boat maybe a 30ft boat for the 13 of us. The guys start setting up the awning, and other things on the boat while the tide is still rising. They finally start the boat then one gets out to push. The boat is stuck. Again the tide is still rising. They tell us to hop back in the small boat so they can puch easier. We decide that there is no way they are going to be able to do this by themselves so we all get out and help push, finally the boat is loose and we are off.
We get out to see and within 15 mins the guy spots one. We all get super excited and start putting on goggles, snorkels, flippers. Our hearts are racing a mile a minute. The guy gets up close and says jump in. I am one of the first to jump and half into the water I realize what I am doing. I am jumping into the middle of the ocean to swim with a 20ft wild shark. The water is murky so I cant get a good look. I am freaking out and keep trying to find it, but also am super afraid. I get back into the boat and let others try. Eventually after about 6 jumps in a I get a real good one. I am able to swim right over the shark for about 30 seconds. I was on the surface and it was about 3 feet down. It was one of the most surreal and pristine moments of my life. I was also able to swim next to it for about 15 seconds. Such an amazing experience. I would recommend it to anyone who has the oppurtunity.
The rest of the trip we relaxed on the INDIAN OCEAN, played cards, read, napped, ate lots of seafood for so cheap. I got a whole octopus for like 60 cents american. On Christmas we had a nice lunch with a couple from England who we have been sharing our time with. They had fruit cake sent in for Christmas and they shared it with us. I was apprehensive, but it was delicous.
Now I am on my way back to my village to get started on my projects.
First holiday season away was hard, but I am glad I stayed so busy. Made the time go by fast, and made it not really feel like I missed Christmas.
I love and miss you all

Friday, November 19, 2010


The men run and jump in front of the crowd of women, then some of the women join

The skirts are made out of beads, and the shirts out of goat hide

Where's Waldo?

Tradtional Dancing

Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Pictures

Mountain Climb!

It has been one week since I climbed the mountain. I posted pictures on of the climb on facebook, I hope you can check them out. I have been looking at this mountain for two months now knowing that the day willl come when I climb it. I got a ohone call from another volunteer saying a few people wanted to come in and climb. I got everything organized and then two days before we were supossed to climb I get a call from our guide. He tells me to look at the mountain. This is early in the morning so I don't expect anything of it. I walk outside and there are large cluds of smoke rising from the mountain. He tells me it caught fire this morning and we are not going to be able to climb. The fire is exactly where our path up the mountain is. I have a few people coming in from two days of travel just to climb the mountain, so my heart sinks. I talk with him for a bit and we decide to wait. He climbs the mountain the next day with a group of villagers to see if they could help stop the fire. When he comes back down he tells us the place where we climb the fire is already out. It has been burned so there is no way it can catch back on fire. We are back in! THis is about 12 hours before we would have to wake up to start the climb. The six of us that are planning on climbing are very excited. Not thinking too much of how hard the climb is going to be the next day we grab a few beers. When the alarm goes off at 4:45am I am shocked. We are running around the house grabbing our boiled eggs, PB&J sandwiches lots of water, and we are out the door by 5:15.
The climb begins: By this I mean we have a 8km walk just to the base of the mountain. Earlier this morning I realized my i-pod had no battery, so I would be climbing the mountain to the sound of my mind. (If you know me that can be a scary thing) So we begin the hike to the base of the mountain. The sun is rising over the hills and just looks beautiful. There is some excited chatter between us, but I think we were still all waking up. When we reached the base of the mountain and looked up it took my breath away. I guess from farther away it really does not look that big, but it is! It was awesome to walk from dry hills into an almost jungle. The hike felt like a hike in a jungle, except it was uphill. We were in heavy trees for about an hour which was beautiful all in itself.We finally reached the spot where the fire was earlier in the week, and it was complete devestation. It was sad to see everything burned down, but also quite a site to see only a day after a fir raged across the mountain. I think in some of the pictures you can see the smoke from the fire on a different part of the mountain. The hike continued, with me begining to be exhausted. Then we reached the actual climb. This part felt almost like rock climbing/hiking. There were parts where you had to pull yourself up over rocks, and vertical ground. It was tough especially after already hiking awhile. I have never really hiked before so I begin to fall back. After about two hours of complete hell, I think I have reached the top, but no one is around. I call the guide and he tells me I have reached the false peak.... This is the peak I see everyday from my house. The one that I said I would reach and be done. The peak that I knew I could reach. He says that there are two higher peaks one is an hour hike and the other is the highest is another two hours one way onto that. I decide with another girl that we will reach the second highest peak. After lots of rest, sweat, water, and hardboiled eggs we reach our goal. The other four had continued on to go to the main peak. I instead eat my PB&J sandwiches and take a nap on top of the mountain.
I feel accomplished for climbing what I did. It was alot more difficult than expected, but I think most people would not have a problem climbing it. Some advice for anyone lookng to do some mountain climbing in the future, dont drink the night before, ask around to figure out how hard the climb is going to be, bring lots of water and more food than you ever expect yourself to eat, charge your i-pod, and keep reminding yourself that this is fun, and you are almost there.
I hope you all enjoyed my mountain climbing story. It was such a beautiful experience and I plan on doing it again. Right now in my village, not much has changed. I am begining to write my analysis of the village. I have been meeting with various heads of the departments to ask questions and really figure out my village a little better.
I love and miss you all so much. Keep the emails and questions coming

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 5th

Happy Birthday Theresa! I love you!
I just got back from a trip to my banking town. As I talked about in my last blog nine volunteers were hosting a girls empowerment seminar. The seminar was five days long, but I made it in for the last one. It was cool to see 50 girls coming together from around the region to discuss the same issues. The learned everything about basic sanitary needs for girls to having open discussions. They also had presentations on goal setting and family planning. I only saw a few hours of the confrence, but from the smiles on the other volunteers and the girls faces I could tell it was a complete success. While I was there I discussed putting on a guys confrence in March. We want to reach boys who are at the age of going onto secondary school. This will reach the kids who might not have the oppurtunity for information like this in the future. I am really excited to see how that works out.
This up coming weekend we are climbing the mountain. If I have emailed any of you in the past week its all I can talk about. I am so excited to see how hard it actually is, and how beautiful the area looks from that high up. The mountain is a day climb/hike so we are able to return home that same day. There is going to be about 8 volunteers in total climbing, so we will be safe mom ;).
Some other issues I have been dealing with right now is writing my report on the town. I have been in contact with a few people in high positions to discuss statistics, but this is going to be harder than originally thought. I am trying to set up a meeting with a widows group to see how it is run, and ask them some questions. I also am trying to get in contact with the person who is running the AIDS/HIV education for the area to see what is set up, and what needs assistance. I am still trying to get my foot in the door at the secondary school, but right now is nation testing for the graduating class, so they are busy for the next few weeks. Our next training for all of the new peacecorps volunteers in my class is Dec 4th-17th. It is going to be in Morogoro town. I have heard nothing but wonderful things about that part of the country. At this training we will all be presenting our reports. We also will have some education on AIDS and writing grants and of course some language touch-ups. It is going to be so nice to see everyone, and hear all the wonderful stories.
As of now I don't have plans for Christmas or New Years. I know that the missionaries are trying to have a Thanksgiving dinner for all of the Peacecorps volunteers in the region, which will be so nice. Originally before everyone left for their sites we talked about traveling somewhere after IST to celebrate Christmas and New Years together. I know something will work out.
I have still be running. I am still trying to work off all the weight that I gained from homestay. I have been trying to run a different way everytime I go. This gives me the oppurtunity to see more of the area and it also gives me the oppurtunity to meet more people if I get tired and need to walk. In Feburary there is a 5k/(1/2)marathon/marathon at the base of Killimanjaro. That is the largest mountain in Africa. I have my eyes set on running the (1/2) marathon, but we will see how my feet hold up. It is a big get together for alot of peacecorps volunteers to run or watch.
I think that is about it right now... keep emailing me and keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. If there is anything that you want to know about my daily life or anything about the region dont be afraid to ask. I am jut kind of writing whatever comes to mind at that point, so if you ask questions these might be a little more focused.
Love you all,
P.S. Shout out to Kelsey Kloberdanz for the package thanks a million!

Friday, September 24, 2010

September 24th!

So I want to start off this blog with my afternooon of adventure. I wake up this morning with a small list of things to get accomplished. I want to work on y garden, do the dishes, laundry, go visit one of the government officials to set up a meeting for next week, and some other odds and ends. I wake up feeling confident I am going to rock this day out. I decide that I should probably shower before I go and talk with the official, so I decide to work on my garden first. The garden I am trying to make is a technique we were taught durin our training. It is called double digging, and this man Peter Jensen is the one who taught it to us. It allows anyone to plant and produce a strong garden in any enviornment. The process controls any water that enters the system by a series of different concepts. First you have to dig out the entire area about a foot deep. I did this the other day and tore up my hands bad. They had open blizters because I was using a brand new jembe, without any work gloves. I gave myself a few days off before I started the next part. A few days later I dug out around the border of the garden. This allows the water to flow in and get trapped. It also creates big holes in the corners to contain more water. With the excess dirt you can plant a natural plant fence to keep away any stray animals. As I was digging this I found the hose that connects my water. My neighbor came over to me while I was digging and told me that I should be careful of the hose. It is a real pain in the butt to fix if its broken. Well I woke up this morning of double digging the area where I am going to plant my plants. You want to dig down about two feet to allow the roots to grow deep and for the water to saturate the land easier. As I was going I was feeling good, I was thinking about maybe going for a run later. Then I hit a root. I hit it again to get it out of the way. After about six swings I pull up all the dirt around it and realize its the hose! I was like why is there no water coming out? Maybe this is left over, then I found the other part which I cut right through. UGH I realize that we dont have water right now. This is a good thing, and I start thinking what am I going to do. My neighbor came over earlier to tell me he was leaving for the day so I couldnt get him to help. I stand in the middle of my garden for a few minutes covered head to toe in dirt and think. I soon realize this is going to be an easy fix. I just need to buy a connector piece at the hardware store. Since I live in town this is no big deal, except for the language barrier. After a odd and confusing conversation with the man at the hardware store I get what I need. I come home happy that I am going to fix this on my own. When I get home the water is still off which makes me smile alittle. I start putting the device together have to cut each side of the hose alittle and take a nice piece of my finger off with the hose. OUCH! Its ok I am going to do this. Then when I am about 2/3 the way done the water starts coming out. I hurry to get it put together I am rushing but finally after alot of work I get it together and test it with my spicket and it works! YAY I WON! So I begin to start to cook breakfast and decide to leave my garden for another day. My neighbor returns and ask what all the water is from I tell him, then he tells me I didnt fix it. There were bubbles and water coming out of the part that I fixed. I tell him that I will get it later since it is slow I will wait for the water to turn off. After he leaves and I eat my breakfast and do my laundry, I feel confident I can fix it. I address the problem and soon realize I lost one of the rubber pieces. I return to the hardware store and easy enough the man gives it to me for free. This makes me happy again. As I am returning into my backyard I realize there is alot more water now. This is the fastest and the hardest the water has ever come out. I attempt to put it back together, but the pressure is to strong. Now I am waiting for the water to shut off. In Africa there are not built in shut off vaulves, if I wanted my water to stop flowing they would have to shut off all the water around me off, like 50 households. So I wait....
I think I will be able to fix it pretty easy once the water stops flowing. The water here since it is the dry season is usually on for a day then off for a few hours then on then off, so I just have to wait around and see what happens.
I thought I would update you all on my life. I have been meeting eith various people trying to figure the best way of going at this anylasis. The missionaries invited me up to dinner this past Friday, and it felt like I was in America. They cooked me pizza with CHEESE. After we sat on their leather couches and watched AMERICAN TELEVISION for like three hours. It was nice to hear their take on the country and what thier plans were. It was also very nice to go to America for a few hours dont get me wrong. In a few weeks I am going to climb my mountain for the first time. I am super excited. A groupd of volunteers are coming in from all over the country to climb it. Also this next weekend I am traveling a few days to see a girls confrence being held in my banking town by about nine volunteers. This should be a huge learning experience for me, I am excited it is so close and I am able to go. Today was the trip to the national park with the eight graders here. I was going to go, but the more I heard about the trip, it would have been a long bus ride for only a few hours at the national park. I decided it was in my best interest to dave the money and just stay here.
Another pretty short an scary story. One night I woke up in the middle of the night having to go to the bathroom. In half of a daize I open my two doors and step out into my courtyard. ( My bathroom is outside of my house.) I am smart enough to turn on my light. As I am walking I am kind of looking at the ground and see a 3 foot rope on the ground and think nothing of it. As I am going to the bathroom I wake up alittle more and realize what that three foot rope was a SNAKE! Ummmmm does this mean there could be some in the toliet with me? Where is it going to go? What am I going to do? I being to freak out thinking about what would happen if I stepped on it? So I open the door slowly to find out that the snake s gone. I have no idea where it went so I sprinted back into the house close the doors and freaked out for another half hour, realized I was safe and went to sleep.
I hope these stories brighten your day alittle bit. Everything is going pretty well here. Having the internet at my hand really makes my life alittle bit better everyday. I hope everything is going great and you are all enjoying fast food. Miss and love you all.