A teacher's confession!

During week 5 all subject teachers have been setting mid term exams. My exam was given last week when I was in Dar. Thanks Naomi!
Wednesday was a holiday and I spent the entire day catching up on corrections, planning, responding to emails...sometimes it's sooo good not to have to go anywhere! I always manage to achieve heaps on days like this.
Settled into my favourite spot, curled up on the chair outside, accompanied by Kehawa and all the happy singing birds...(and the roosters non-stop crowing next door!!), I had marked 10 of the 32 papers when my phone rang. I had left it inside so ventured in to answer it. Later I stood chatting to Loveness and Kulwa, my wonderful new housegirl whom Loveness (Polly's house girl) was training.
As I walked outside I was confronted with a very guilty looking Kehawa and one of my papers strewn from one end of the house to the other!!!!!!!!!!!
OH DEAR......
I frantically collected all the pieces and spent ages trying to sticky tape it back together. I was so grateful that I had already marked this paper so had her results recorded!
Red faced.....I had to explain what had happened to the whole class on Thursday as I handed their papers back!!! They know and love Kehawa. We have been using a picture of him to learn descriptive words. His picture was actually on the test paper so we decided that he just wanted to get a closer look at what Nuru had written about him!!!
So after all these years of having students tell me that their dog ate their homework???!!!......I too, had to use this excuse.....albeit truthfully!!!

A snapshot of the staff at SEGA

 Skill sharing.....great teamwork. 
Pauline is our Counsellor and teaches Life skills with me. She is very passionate about what she does. The girls love her easy going, warm, caring nature which is an asset in establishing a genuine rapport and trust with the girls. She is fun loving and takes this approach into her classes which are always full of laughter and animated discussion. She has a natural ability to draw the girls into participating and not just listening. Naomi is team teaching with her and is learning many positive teaching skills from her. I know we are going to be a great team together.
L-R: Meshack, Babu Yona, Grace, Peter, Pauline, Mgonja, Steven.
 Chai, mkate and peanut butter
....this is usually an easy going, relaxed and casual gathering.
Now that the staff is more evenly weighted with both famales and males, the topics of discussion have been varied. Usually they start out in Kiswahili as general chat but when it gets animated I will put my hand up and say..."Cut me in!"....and they continue in English so that I can contribute and share the fun!
 Serious discussion happening!.... 
Or are the girls just stirring the boys?
...which is typical staffroom banter in any school I have been in!
 Matron...listening quietly as always.
 Mgonja has recently joined us ....thankfully! He is teaching English and Civics and has been warmly welcomed by the girls.....and by me! This means that the extra classes I have been carrying are no longer all my responsiblity! As hectic as they were....I loved being in the classroom with the girls! But it is much easier now for me to focus on my own responsibilities

 Driver Peter fueling up!
 SEGA is not on the electricity service grid. However with the installation of solar power at SEGA I can always be guaranteed that I will have power. This is amazingly reassuring!
Naomi at work in the library

18 February. A stormy Friday.....

I am sitting on the back porch in the semi dark on the top of Kehawa’s kennel, delighting in an amazing weather performance. It is balmy; the wind is getting angry as a storm moves closer.
The sky is illuminated by a huge orange full moon. To the left of the moon the sky is totally clear as the stars twinkle happily. To the right of the moon the nimbo-cumulus cloud mass is so close it feels as though I could reach out and touch it!! Having no electricity to light this region, the contrasts are visually intense.

The exciting vision is the wild lightening show occurring through these clouds! There is no rain near us in Kihonda but it looks like the Uluguru Mountains are coping the brunt of the storm. I worry about all the families I know living up there, hoping they are secure and safe in their humble, often fragile homes.
Kehawa is frantically running....then trying to sit calmly at my feet...then he panics again as the distant thunder growls and he leaps up onto his kennel with me!
The huge full moon continues to stare down at us. Its vision free from being obscured by the softly curved edge of the rain filled cloud blanket alongside it.
The air is cooling and becoming fresh. The frogs near and far are going wild. Their calls are deafening. I can feel Dad sitting right beside Kehawa and I. I know he is loving its beauty too!

“The rain is coming!!”
Big, fat, splats hit my tin roof....slowly at first then more and more.  We are only getting the very edge of the rain.
One hour passes almost unnoticed in suspended animation as soft drops of rain reach us intermittently. Are we actually going to get wet? The edge of the huge, black, foreboding cloud tries to slowly swallow our bright, happy moon..... but the moon is not surrendering easily!
Gradually it seems to lose the battle. The resulting scene is beautiful. The thinner, fluffy edges of the massive cloud are glowing bright yellow as its dark, heavy body tries to digest this natural beauty....

....but wait....

VICTORIOUS!!! The moon laughingly, regains its place in the clear skies as the angry mass of rain cloud is blown closer to the mountains.
Kehawa is peacefully asleep at my feet as I bask in the beauty of this moonlit night. 

I reflect back on the sad start to my day when we had witnessed a fatal accident on our journey to SEGA!
I pray for the family of the young man who had ridden past me only 15 minutes before as I had stood waiting for the bus to collect me. He waved and shouted “Mambo?” as many Tanzanians do to the only white person they pass each morning! I also pray in thanks for being given such beauty today to help me move on from this challenging memory.

Lala salama. 

Communicating.......Visa......Sauti za Basara.....farewells.......

Form 1: Writing a friendly, newsy letter.....This is harder than it sounds when you want to put all your thoughts on paper but it's too hard to find the English words to say them! I could easily put myself in their shoes and reverse the situation: Fran writing her blog in Kiswahili...!!!? Not yet.... but maybe I could use some words and I could construct some sentences ......
Oh how the girls struggled to write their meaningful newsy letters. I can only hope that their detail increases as their vocab does and that they begin to enjoy this wonderful means of communication! Sponsors and friends out there....please be patient. We are all trying to involve you in our world!

A trip to Dar to sort out my visa.....Yes, it is still:  "What Visa?....as I don't have one"
mmmmmmmmmmmmmm! ???????
Oh well.....
I did get to stay with Tracey and Bruce and experience their little home, less the familiar family d├ęcor which was packed into suitcases, as it was their 2nd last night in Dar before leaving for home to reunite with Sadie and Belle in Vancouver.
Dylan was actually staying with Bruce's parents in Vancouver the night before Tracey and Bruce were due home! His journey home from the snow season in Big White required a sleep over in Vancouver so it was easy to connect them all. It was great Dyl would meet Jack and Nancy as I had met them here in Dar at Xmas and experienced what lovely, interesting people they are.....and he would meet Sadie and Belle as well! International friends unite!
We are all very happy that it was able to happen.
I made a daring trip to Zanzibar to experience Sauti za Basara 2011 .....I successfully sneaked through customs ...(nearly getting detained on the way back though!)  and celebrated this with a few Tusker baridi sana (some of them were actually cold!) as we all danced our way through this amazing African Music festival.....

VSO Vols reunited.....Alex and Lachy shared.....
Farewells are too hard.
Kwa heri Alex and Lachy
Kwe heri Tracey and Bruce.

A satisfying Sunday!

I woke Sunday morning to find Alex making bread for breakfast. Having taught them the process using yeast, before we went to sundowners the previous day, Alex was keen to give it a go! He only killed one batch of yeast but restarted and produced two perfect wholemeal loaves which we ate for lunch as Mama Pili unexpectedly treated us with her chapattis for breakfast! So spoilt!
Chukula za asubuhi:  Mama Pili's chapati's
Domestic Lachy catching up on his washing! 

Alex the Baker! 
 Hongera...nzuri sana!...
We spent Sunday arvo out at SEGA much to the delight of the girls. Heaps of fun and laughter resulted as the frisbies, donated by the Carey Grammar kids, were hurled from boys to girls and back! The sidewalk chalk, also a gift from Carey, was used to draw hopscotch on the canteen floor and a string of girls challenged me for an hour or more.

It was difficult to drag ourselves away. “Stay for chukula jioni..Pleeeease…?!” Their Sunday special of Pilau was tempting but, after 100 photo shoots, we extracted ourselves from their clutches and Peter finally drove us towards home.

Regardless of what is happening at SEGA the girls have to complete their tasks.....Sunday washing!
 Baba Yona is always amongst the action!
A quick Tz meal at Mambo club was planned (I should have remembered that QUICK is not a word usually associated with Tz!!) before the boys headed out to the Disco with Mustafa. TWO hours and a few bia baridi sana later, our kuku and chipsie arrived!!

Oh Well!!

A late, interesting experience at the disco eventuated!
Bags were eventually packed by candlelight and farewells were bidden Monday morning as my two dear Aussie/ African sons departed for a week on Zanzibar.

Alex and Lachy sleep out at Morning Side...chilling with the local Tz.

Having organised a hike and sleep out for the boys with Mustafa, the boys headed off early Friday am to experience 2 days in the care of the local Tanzanian boys.
/Hiking into Choma, swimming at the Falls, hiking further into the mountains to their overnight destination of /Morning Side, Tanzanian food, fresh fruit straight off the trees, conversations dominated by /Kiswahili and broken English (which means that you are never quite sure what is really being said or agreed upon!!)

*At school, Friday afternoon, I was warmly welcomed into the religion class. It was in full swing as I returned from lunch. Again, I was emotionally moved at the beauty and passion emanating in their song and dance. Having an extra class of girls this year intensified the quality and volume of their singing. It was lovely to see Upendo and some of the other new girls take the lead on several of their songs. This time I was invited to share their prayer time and was asked to do a reading. A simple sign of acceptance.

Smiling, dusty and satisfied the boys returned full of stories to share, grateful to have glimpsed the real people and their humble lives.

Sundowners at Pascal’s bar just near Mama Pili’s shack at the end of our track, was a fitting end to a hot and rewarding day. Alex and Lachy got to hang out with me and our friendly Tz DJ, Pascal and our bargirl, Happy.
 Photographing Morning Side in the Uluguru Mountains from my side fence
 Chatting to one of the locals.

The view of the Mountains from near my red gates
The view of the house from the same spot!
Pascal, Happy, Lachy and Alex doing sundowners in the outdoor bar at the end of our dirt track.....music, video clips....and Tuskers baridi sana....What more could one want?! 

Another typical Tanzanian encounter.
On arriving home, the boys ate their way through nearly two loaves of the fresh bread whilst waiting for the veg lasagna to cook.

Oh what a treat to have hungry, growing boys around again! ...Not sure if my Vols allowance would support them for long though!!

4 February. Aussie boys meet SEGA girls.

Thursday we caught the bus to SEGA. Assembly concluded with the the girls welcoming the boys with a warm rendition of their ‘Welcome Visitors’ song and dance.
Again our International visitors shared a short Nature walk. This time our aim was to increase our descriptive vocab of the animals we found.....and again, our visitors were befriended by the Form 1’s.

As we returned to school along the track, the girls sang happily for the boys.
Form 2 were intrigued with the 2 Aussie boys and their families! They spent time sharing information about their lives in Australia, answering questions (“Do they have girlfriends?”....was one of the questions from the girls!)  as well as questioning the girls about their lives here in Tz.

Songs and dances were followed by Alex and Lachy being escorted to Chai, seated easily amongst the girls and being treated to Mama Cook’s mandazis.

Perfect!! Win/Win for everyone.
Our Lucy was so excited to know that Alex’s younger sister’s name is Lucy and has sought her friendship as a pen pal. It must go with the name as both Lucy’s are darling girls. I’m sure a lovely friendship will develop.
The boys headed off to explore the town. Later we sat by traditional Moro candlelight and devoured 2 loaves of freshly baked homemade bread and huge bowls of freshly made tomato soup followed by fresh sweet rounds of pineapple.

Oh it was so nice having African sons to share my life. 
It was just like having my own boys here!

3 February. A Bitter / Sweet Aussie Day

My house was quiet, clean and orderly...not something that has been familiar!
However, my peace was short lived.
Wed arrived and so did Cyclone Yasi and two young Aussies: Alex and Lachy. It was to become a bitter/sweet Aussie Day for me!
Cyclone Yasi was category 5 and heading straight for Tropical North Queensland. The eye was predicted to pass almost directly over Cairns, my Queensland home territory. Knowing I didn’t have internet access, GT fed me regular updates and so did many of my dear TNQ friends who were securely battened down, anxiously awaiting its potential devastation.
This was the first time I had been away from home during a disaster of this magnitude. It was horrible knowing their predicament. I realised just how much I really missed my dear friends and families. Fortunately Trinity Beach was spared as the eye passed further south. Sadly Cardwell and Mission Beach took the brunt: 2 of my favorite places! Wendy messaged me the following day and her relief was evident as she rightly expressed:
“We certainly dodged a bullet!”
Our second swimming lesson with NFE and I was all alone but the girls were ready and waiting! Today was all about putting our mouths and faces in the water, keeping eyes open and just above the water line the blowing bubbles! Sounds easy! One hour of practise, mixed with games and simple kicking drills, the girls were finally able to cross the width of the pool pretending they were ‘bubble fish’. There was so much pride reflected in their beaming faces.
During this lesson I learned that Alex and Lachy had arrived in Morogoro. Alex is the second son of my dear friend Prue. Prue and I met o the first day of Uni (just a year or two ago!) and have been through thick and thin together. Alex and Lachy, his mate from Melbourne, had been travelling South East Africa since November. It was so exciting to see the two boys strolling across the school grounds. The NFE girls greeted them with typical SEGA friendship – hugs and greetings for all.

Wednesday evening we organised with Mustafa to take the boys hiking up into Choma and sleep out at Morning Side on Fri/Sat.