It’s been an eventful two weeks in Tanzania. The last two weeks marked the beginning of the HIV/AIDS portion of work here with “Day Camp 2013.” This camp was conducted at Nduruma Secondary School. I had 24 students and have spent the the past week teaching them about HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, and life skills. My students were in forms 1 and 2, which means they range from 13 to 17 years old. These students had never had any human anatomy or reproductive health classes, so what we taught was their first formal education on the matter. Despite this fact, I truly believe that the most crucial, and challenging, portion of the two week course was the life skills sections. Because of both culture and the nationally accepted style of teaching, students never learn about decision making, communication skills, resisting peer pressure, etc. The most difficult day for me last week was after teaching about self esteem and getting questions in our Swali Box (question box) asking what self esteem meant. The following morning was even harder as I spent a good portion of the it starting from the ground up, trying to convince 24 beautiful teenagers that they are unique and special, that they have gifts and talents to share with their community and the world, and that they have tremendous value.
Things got much easier after the first few days of camp and I think the students finally started understanding the life skills and their significance. This past Saturday we had a very fun and extremely long graduation ceremony followed by food and dancing. I’m posting some pictures so you can see some of my students!
On June 15th all seven GSC volunteers and Edwina (the newest member of the GSC staff who is working in marketing) went on a safari in Tarangire National Park. After that, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go a zoo and enjoy it. The park was indescribably stunning and it was surreal to be so close to so many giraffes, elephants, baboons, etc. At lunch we stopped at a designated picnic area where our drivers warned us about monkeys that would come and steal our lunches. They weren’t kidding. Small monkeys would literally attack you and steal your unopened Lays potato chips if you weren’t looking. This happened to many people, including a few people in our group. Moral of the story: never trust a monkey.
After the safari, just as our safari guide/driver was about to drop us off so we could walk home, a grenade was detonated down the street from where our car stopped. Luckily our driver recognized that something bad happening and quickly got us back in the car and away from trouble. It was interesting to see how law enforcement handled the situation and how the public responded over the following days. There were a few riots which the police responded to with lots of tear gas. In turn, rioters responded by setting fires in the middle of the street and smashing car windows. Despite all of that, after a few days, Arusha was back to normal. Global Service Corps made sure that were driven to work and home everyday so the volunteers felt safe and secure during the unrest.
Right now we’re in the middle of sustainable agriculture training so I’ve been pretty excited! So far we’ve learned about the tenets of bio-intensive agriculture, a history of farming in Tanzania, and how to construct compost piles, on bed nurseries, double dug beds, and key hole gardens. Tomorrow we’ll be traveling to a village to see the impact of keyhole gardens for small scale farmers and households as a solution to food insecurity.
Hopefully I’ll be able to post again this week to write about my home stay, food, and daily life here!
Words of the week: I chose “wasichana” and “wavulana” which mean “girls” and “boys” because of all the great students I had the pleasure of teaching over the last two weeks 🙂
Interesting (not necessarily fun) facts:
1. I saw a patriots 19-0 perfect season shirt last week so all of the championship T-shirts for the losing team really do get sent to Africa.
2. I also saw a South River Seahawks lacrosse shirt last week.
3. Corporal punishment is alive and well in schools. I had the truly awful experience of watching one of my students being beaten by 3 teachers with sticks.
4. My kittens’ names are Chaupe/Mzungu (Whitey/white foreigner), Simba (lion), and Melu (don’t know what this means but my host brother likes it)
5. I plan on finishing The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings before I leave. One book down, three to go.