Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween on Zanzibar!

Tomorrow morning Rubes and I are heading to Zanzibar with some other volunteers. Tanzanians don't celebrate Halloween but regardless I wanted to try and celebrate somehow. I made masks today with my class (which i would guess is one of the firsts times they have ever done a craft) and tonight Ruby and I are going to carve some Watermelons! Haha, we're doing the best we can with limited resources--tomorrow is also one of our fellow volunteers birthdays so we'll be going out tomorrow night to celebrate both occasions.

This past week at the school has been much better than the last. We spoke with the gentleman in charge of the school and we were able to convince him to get two more teachers. Now I only have around 40-45 children in my class at a time. Ruby has a little bit more. It's made it much easier to give the kids the one on one time that they need--but still it's very, very hard. With absolutely NO resources it's hard to teach so many children who vary in age and academic ability. Children who aren't fast learners or who are at all slow, really get left behind. The class just keeps going because there isn't time for the teacher to guve any additional help. So, I'm trying to split the class up in groups according to their level. Math is a bit of a problem in my class. Our swahili is improving and we are able to communicate at a VERY basic level with the kids, but it's still very difficult when your vocabulary is so small.

Anyhow, I have to go, not only is my time running out, but I can't stand listening to the woman who owns this internet room chew so obnoxiously any longer. (Tanzanians aren't known for their table etiquette that's for certain.) :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

To the left, Ruby's hand, and to the right, a massive moth. (Just to give you an idea of what we're up against here--hahaha.)

A picture of the Indian Ocean and some Bagamoyo fisherman.

Some mtotos (kids) playing in the water.

This is a large soccer field that is three times larger than what you see in this picture. There are always goats and cows roaming around on the soccer field, the roads even the school yard.

Annnnnd, some 22 year old alligators we stumbled upon. Eeeeeek!

After the rain...

It has been unbearably hot the past few days, so when it rained yesterday for the first time in weeks we were thrilled. The rain came down in sheets, it cut the heat and Bagamoyo was actually "cool" for the first time since we arrived. (By cool I mean 20 degrees rather than 40.)
Myself and two other girls even went for nice run along the beach because of the lovely temperature change.
The problem is that since the rain and since the sun set last night the village has been infested with bugs everywhere. It was the creepiest thing last night to go to bed watching bugs crawl on top of your mosquito net. There are flying beetles the size of two toonies flying all over the place. It's actually ridiculous the amount of bugs that are out since the rain fall. Some are obviously hatching on the pools of water lying in the roads. I saw the largest spider I have ever seen today--it was probably the size of business card. The bugs are out of hand--in the time it has taken me to write this post I have had two flying beetles land on me and I have probably killed a dozen smaller ones.

I have to get out of this room.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A few pics

Hey guys!
This first picture is of all the volunteers being picked up at the airport. We were missing Rupert, the older and very charming Brit whose flight was delayed. He was forced to take a taxi to Bagamoyo. Everyone else was driven in this mini-bus by our driver Didas. We arrived around dinner time to the house you see below. Our house is so well kept and looks like paradise in comparison to the town we live in!
This picture was taken in Dar es Salaam, hopefully it gives you a bit of an impression of what it is like here. The town where we are staying, Bagamoyo, is much more rural but has the same sandy streets with lots of small shacks where people live. We will try to post more pics soon!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kids, Kids, Kids.

When we walk to the "school" in the mornings (which is about 5mins from our house) as soon as the children get sight of us they come charging towards us--about 80 of them all at once.
Ruby and I both teach a class of approx. 80 kids each. They're adorable--they really are. They are incredibly intrigued with our skin and hair and just love to touch us. It's quite normal for us to be walking with 6 kids hanging off each arm and other holding on to our clothes. They sometimes fight over who gets to hold our hands-- but there seems to always be enough time for everyone to walk with us for a bit. They really just love being hugged. This is true of ALL kids in Bagamoyo--we often have children we have never seen or spoken to come run up and hug us. It's a great feeling to have so many little people so excited to see you each day.

The problem is--it's nearly impossible to give 80 kids the individual attention they need. We have absolutely nothing to work with. The 80 kids sit on the floor in front of us and we don't have pencils or crayons and only about half the kids have books. We have a chalk board and some white chalk. That's it. I don't think there is a single child in my class that has a working uniform. They're all tattered and ripped, missing buttons and have broken zippers. Today was actually pretty depressing. There just isn't enough resources here. These kids are really loosing out. We don't have time to spend with the kids on a one-on-one basis they've just been taught to memorize things. In other words, they can count 1-50 (impressive you would think for 3-5yr olds) but they have absolutely no concept of what they're actually saying. When I draw four circles on the board they can't actually count them. The whole system is really screwed up. The teachers aren't really teachers--they're "volunteers" who have no teaching experience and who havent been paid in months.
All of the kids that we are working with all come from extrem poverty. They are either orphans, HIV + or are deemed very vulnerable kids.

My time is running out...must run.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rest assured, we're alive.

I have so much I want to share with everyone right now, but time is of the essence. That's actually an odd statement coming from someone in Bagmoyo because everyone and everything is so laid back here. It's great but it is hard to get used to.

If I only had time to share one thing with you it would be that Tanzanians are hands down the friendliest people I have ever met. People say that Canadians are friendly, but they've clearly never met a Tanzanian.
It was strange at first because when Ruby and I first ventured out into the city on Friday our Swahili comprehension was(and still is)terrible so we didn't have any idea what people were saying. (Part of that has to do with the fact that they have 99 ways to say "Hello, how are you?") Now that we have a very (and I stress, VERY) basic comprehension we are able to converse a little better.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that most EVERYONE will say hello to you when you walk down the street and ask you how you're doing. So far everyone we have met and all of our experiences with locals have been great.

On a less positive note however, two of the girl here (both Americans)have caught Malaria and are pretty sick. They're on medication now and they should be better in a a week or so. One of the girls was on the same Antimalarial drugs though, so we have to be really diligent with applying mosquito repellent and wearing long sleeve pants and shirts. It's pretty hard to get excited about putting on long pants and long sleeves at night in 30 degree humid weather though.

Almost curfew time...better head back home.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Two Days to go...

Making a list and checkin' it twice.