13-14 Nov. My Birthday Weekend.

Wow....What an amazing weekend!
My birthday text from Prue said: “Hope you get to celebrate in a way you never have before!”
That is exactly what happened! We had so much fun with many unexpected events unfolding!
I farewelled Renee as she bused out to Dar and welcomed Mae off the bus from Iringa. Not having had mirrors in our house, I discovered a vendor selling a variety of them and arrived home with one for each of us...much to the excitement of the two young 18 year olds ...(I’m not too sure that I’m really excited about seeing the 51 years of wisdom etched into the face staring back at me!!)

Peter drove us all out to SEGA where the girls greeted us with excitement. This was the start of our promised movie night/sleepover. We were just as excited as the girls. Mae was welcomed warmly as we were all given a detaied walking tour of the whole of SEGA after which we relaxed in the canteen. The girls patiently helped us start the weaving and we all proceeded to create the bookmarks we had agreed to help produce. Time passed quickly as we laugh and shared stories. They were intrigued that Mae’s Phillipino skin was ‘the same as their skin’! Subira had very patiently and expertly guided me through learning to weave and so to say thank you I taught her how to use my camera: to focus correctly and look carefully at the content in the screen before gently squeezing the button without moving the camera. She became the unofficial photographer whom I easily trusted to take care of and respect my camera.

As a result, we have a very candid, extensive pictorial account of everything that happened! It was such a pleasure for me to see their enjoyment in this simple task and then to watch and listen to their reactions on Sunday morning, at seeing themselves in a slideshow on Kelly’s screen!

As the sun faded, a fire was lit to create some warmth and also get the coals needed to make a huge bucketful of popcorn.

After much laughter and many group photos, we moved to the school building in anticipation of starting the movies, to discover the truckload of new chairs and mattresses had arrived! I have never had this much fun unloading a truck! Everyone was excited: Baba Yona, Syotite, Matron, and all of us....lifting/moving/supporting/passing/relocating/avoiding newly planted roses.....

Then finally the truck was empty and it became an imprompty stage!! Singing/dancing/laughing....”Madam Fran come up , join us!” I didn’t hesitiate however, once up there, I realised potential danger if one was to slip off the truck! The night and truck were dark....Madam Fran had to be firm to get the dancing to end but enticed them with movies/lollies and popcorn! Thankfully we housed all the new equipment in the classroom without incident!

It dawned on me that we had just been presented with the perfect resource for our movie night and, with Matron’s approval, we moved 6 plastic covered mattresses into the Form 1 classroom: Kangas were lain over them/ 27 girls arranged themselves/ Kelly (my 13" screen laptop) propped up on the front bench with speakers attached/ lollies thrown to the crowd by Elena, Camilla and Baba Yona (a bit like feeding hoards of hungry fish as the chaos was frantic!!) / popcorn distributed/ lights turned out..... and the movie began.
Seventeen Again, an American teen movie...the girls hung onto every scene as the interpretation of the dialogue was done by Elena, Camilla and I. We were seated amongst the different groups of girls therefore the explanation gradually reached all of them in Chinese whispers style (however, these girls don’t really ‘whisper’ very well!) They loved the cheerleader dancing and singing, the fashion, the social scenes...It was fun to hear them on Sunday discussing their favourite scenes!
Explaining where The Phillipines are....where Mae is from.

As the first movie ended I assumed it was time for bed as the night was late however, in response to their protests and, again with Matron’s approval, we began movie #2: The Pirated of The Carribean. Some girls had gone to their dorm but most had brought in blanket and pillow and the slumber/movies proceeded. I’m not sure that the entire story was understood, however, they loved the different scenes and the fact that they were actually ‘at the movies’!

Finally to Bed!! Apparently there had been much discussion as to who should sleep in which bed. The lucky girls proudly showed us to their beds whilst they shared their friend’s beds.
Sleep came to me very quickly amongst a haze of noisy bedtime preparation. Suddenly, it was morning! The 6 am bell sounded as those girls on duty silently slipped out of their beds.

7am I ventured out to experience a typical Sunday morning: Girls watering their gardens, preparing the fire, making porridge to drink, peeling potatoes, kneading chapatti, making chai, washing clothes....amongst laughter and chatter and “Happy Birthday Madam Fran”...always accompanied by a warm hug.
As I sat helping the girls peel potatoes with a knife, I knew I would never forget my first birthday in Tanzania.....and my day had only just begun!

Arriving home, dusty, tired, exhausted and elated, I happily.....successfully......received birthday call from home in Australia!
During the activity of last night I had sadly missed calls from Julie and Dylan and had many missed call on my phone when I took it from my bag. I was frustrated as I had had my phone near me but had still missed the calls when finally I was connected. Mum first....so happy.....but her surprise made me cry! Unbeknown to me, Dylan was still with her and came to the phone. Not having spoken with him since I left Aus...I was unprepared for the emotion I experienced! Soooooo good to hear his voice and about his pending adventures. Safe hiking the plateaus of Kosciusko National Park mate!
It was fantastic to hear so many familiar voices throughout the day. Thank you all for your thoughtfulness and for making my day special. I miss you heaps.

Saba Saba, is a sought after market for all Morogorians! With Raheema and Jesca as our local guides, we scouted the stalls to find a few bargains and some surprises for the two girls; back home via the bus depot to buy Mae’s return ticket; then we fought the dust storm as I tried to have a conversation with GT in his last day on Mylin.
My night ended with the 3 girls shouting me out to Indian at Oasis and on arriving home,

presenting me with a homemade chocolate birthday cake with candles and my very own tailor made bag (now we all have one) and matching kanga!
 My eyes were leaking at this stage!

Thanks girls.....You are a wonderful substitute family. I really love being here with you.


  1. Sounds pretty full on Fran...Life seems very calm here compared to yours.

  2. Great to hear about your adventures Fran. love Maueen & Michael

  3. Maureen and MichaelNovember 19, 2010 at 8:48 PM

    Belated Happy Birthday Fran!. I was talking to Bernadette on the 14th and she remembered it was your birthday.Will be thinking of you and your beautiful Dad on Nov 22nd Love M&M


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