Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Dennis and his brothers
Day 3 - Karanga

The duelling dogs and rooster crows almost won out last night but I finally dosed off before sunrise. I was a little slower today as I donned my skirt and headed to the outdoor dining hall for our communal breakfast. It doesn't take long for the contagious energy of the group to fuel me up.

Today was all about getting out into and learning about the community outside the walls of our home base. We were divided into teams and each assigned a different mission. Ours was to turn left outside the gate and follow the road to the Eleroi Nursery School, and find out the name of the teacher as well as the CCS volunteer who would be working there in a few days.

The dirt road that runs outside CCS seems to be carved into the earth – more pathway than road. And the lushness of the vegetation greets you, as do the family that lives a stone’s throw across the way.  The children smile and wave, calling “jambo” – competing with the bleating goats and barking dogs. The smoky wood fire aroma is omnipresent as are the small cooking pots bubbling over the fire in the yards. As we totted down the laneway lined with banana and coconut trees, greeting everyone we met (greetings are very important in Tanzania) we searched in vain for a sign for the school. Of course not only are there no street signs or names, building signs in this tiny rural neighbourhood are few and far between. The squeals and laughter of little children was the only sign we needed. While our team lead went in search of the details we needed for our assignment, my team mate Katie and I enjoyed the barrage of “karibu’s” (welcome) and hugs. The experience was reminiscent of Kenya and the love that had filled my heart there, was obviously to be found here as well. We spent more than the allotted time with Teacher Luke and the children, listening as they sang the ABCs and some Swahili folk songs and finally bade them farewell … Henry, Victor, Laura, Janet, Peter, Dennis, Mary and many more.

What we learned was that the people in this community are welcoming and want to share. They are happy to have visitors (including us) any time, and they are proud to show you their goats, pigs, chickens and how they live. They smile and nod, shaking your hand, uttering the appropriate Swahili greeting – and offering assistance when my own words faltered.

After our delicious lunch we finally met with representatives from our work assignments. Many in the group are serving at orphanages and schools and have many in their group. It looked as though I was going to be alone at Good Hope Community Support however I lucked out when I learned that an experienced volunteer (Catherine) had been serving there for four weeks. She cautioned me that I will be surprised at how different our placement is from others – that we will be serving in a slum and amongst three strong women (Oliver, Khadija and Asia) who started the organization with little resources and a mountain of resolve. Mama Khadija was engaging but shy. She gently reminded me not to fan myself with the bottom of my skirt in front of the boys as it would not be proper. She assured me though, that if I could administer nothing but love and hugs, it would be enough. I told her I could do that – and much more.

I am, after all, a neighbour. 

A typical open air kitchen

Banana groves created our enchanted forest just outside our gates

Our neighbour Dennis insisted on taking our picture

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