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Archive for March, 2010

Zanzibar Day 2

Today started out with some rain, but we were able to pass the time with a few games of Scrabble Slam.  When the sun finally came out, a few of us took kayaks out on the ocean and then played a pretty intense game of full contact water polo.  We then met some Massai warriors on the beach.  Our favorite would have to be Johnny Boy, who is counting on us to find him an American wife.  Being Massai, we were very surprised by his cell phone ringing mid-conversation and giving us his email address.  They definitely were entertaining and very free sprited.  When we got back to the resort, we had a great pizza dinner.  Then the Massai put on a show for the guests.  They told us a little about their history, lifestyle, and performed their ceremonial dances.  Most of these dances involved very high jumping which none of us could even come close to doing. 

Tomorrow we have a very early morning as we will be touring SOS Village before our morning flight to Dar.  In Dar we will visit another orphanage in the afternoon, then prepare for the long flight back to the US.  It has been a great experience for everyone, and we definitely learned a lot about the different children’s welfare organizations throughout Tanzania.

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Zanzibar

Yesterday we flew from Arusha to Zanzibar.  We drove to S.O.S Village and were introduced to the director of the program and made plans to have a tour and visit for Monday.  We then went to lunch at Mercury’s, which is a restaurant that has a Freddy Mercury theme.  We walked around Stonetown, which has a rich history with buildings that are over 200 years old and is also a historical site because of its association with the slave trade.  We also purchased donations for S.O.S and bought rice, beans, salt and sugar.

After Stonetown, we drove about 45 minutes to Manpenzi, a resort on the other side of the island.  We checked in to the resort and were greeted by the staff and escorted to our rooms.  The women here carry our luggage on their heads and must have walked at least 100 stairs to get to our rooms.  The resort is beautiful and the staff are very friendly.  We met people from other countries and talked about the differences between the U.S. and their country.

Today we had time to relax around the resort.  We swam in the pool, went to the beach and got to take a nap in a hammock in a tree house on the beach.  After dinner, the resort had a performance that included traditional African music and dance.  We are really enjoying having an opportunity to relax after the busy week we had in Arusha.

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Today we went on safari at Ngorongoro which is a conservation area in Tanzania.  We were all up and on the road by 6a.m. this morning and drove about 3 hours to get to the park.  On our way there, we saw a giraffe on the side of the road and we stopped the truck and were able to take pictures and watch him cross the street in front of our truck.   It was a great sign of how the rest of our day on safari would be.

Ngorongoro is a unique park and is often referred to as the crater.  This crater formed when a volcano erupted about 300 years ago and then collapsed into itself and created a natural bowl-shaped enclosure where the animals live.   To get to the crater we had to drive for about 45 minutes up the side of the mountain. As we came into the park, we immediately saw many baboons on the side of the road and we were told that they can be very interactive with people because they want to get food from the vehicles.  As we went up the mountain we drove on a very narrow dirt road that was muddy because it had been raining earlier in the morning and on one side of the road it was a very steep drop.  It’s a dense forest on the trip up the mountain and there are amazing views of the surrounding areas and you can see for many miles.  We also could see the bottom of the park and a very large lake.  As we came down the mountain and into the crater it was immediately apparent that there would be a lot of wildlife to see on safari.  The crater is almost exclusively grass and is a large flat plain. 

We saw about 15 different animals today on safari.  The highlights were the zebras.  Several times during the drive we came across big packs of zebras who were within yards from our truck.  We saw flamingos, wildebeests, elephants, ostriches, buffalo, and hyenas.  For lunch we stopped at a lake where hippos frequent and were able to see them and watch them swim.  We also saw lions, a black rhino, warthogs, gazelles and a cheetah. 

The park is incredible because of the ability to see so many varieties of wild life in one park and because the entire park is so beautiful.  Surrounding the crater where the animals live are mountains that rise up from around the crater.  This was a wonderful safari and was an opportunity for us to see so many animals in such a majestic park.On our drive home we also came across three giraffes who were on the side of the road grazing.  We were able to stop the car and get out to take pictures of them. 

During our three-hour ride back into Arusha we had some time to reflect on this week.  Today is our last full day in Arusha and tomorrow we will be going to Zanzibar.  Arusha is a city that is filled with kind and hospitable people and we were able to have many different experiences while we were here.  It would be impossible to not feel moved by this week here and it has been a transformative experience.  The organizations we visited permitted us to see firsthand the challenges that this community confronts as they try to overcome obstacles in their education system and among the stunning number of homeless children who reside here and the overwhelming majority of people who live in extreme poverty.  We also traveled extensively throughout the city and we were able to observe locals as they went to about their daily routines. 

It will hard to leave Arusha because this has been such a fantastic experience.

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Wednesday

Today we started the day at the UN tribunal, but unfortunately they were in recess.  Next, we went to Daraja Mbili Primary School, a primary school in Arusha.  We taught English classes to two level 5 classes (the equivalent to 5th grade in the States).  The subject was the use of “maybe” and “perhaps.”  The students were enthusiastic and happy to interact with us.  The students taught us how to count to ten in Kiswahili and sang several songs for us.  They were smiling and laughing the entire time- it was a wonderful experience.

After teaching our class, we went to lunch with some teachers in town.  The director of the Tanzanian Albino Center also joined us for lunch.  Amber and Adrianne were able to ask a lot of questions regarding their paper topics. 

After lunch, we returned to the primary school for our community project.  We helped put in a concrete floor in a classroom which previously had a mud floor.  It was fun working with the fundis (handyman) and learning about concrete floors.  The faculty were very appreciative of everything we did and the principal wrote a letter thanking the law school for all of their help and also gave us each a shuka which are the traditional clothing of the massai warriors.

Upon completition of our project, we drove by the UN Tribunal for a second time, but again they were in recess.  So we drove to a small grocery store to purchase supplies for our adventure to Ngorongoro tomorrow.  After the shop we stopped by Lodi’s house to try on the clothes we ordered earlier in the week.  The evening ended with a nice dinner at the Safari Hotel in Arusha.

-Amber

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We left early this morning to visit Amani and the residential part of Mkombozi, which is in Moshi. The administrative offices for Mkombozi that we visited yesterday are here in Arusha, but the children who they help live in Moshi which is about an hour away. Amani is another home where homeless children can choose to go to in order to learn and to live. The very bumpy drive was worth our first sight of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The clouds had been hiding it since we arrived so we were all excited to take pictures. It is really beautiful and looks a bit out of place as a backdrop for palm and banana trees.

We stopped at Amani first. We were very impressed by their facility (and by the gorgeous view of Mt. Kilimanjaro). The children were taking exams when we arrived but we toured the facility and learned more about their mission. Amani’s policy is that every child is welcome. The children take classes and are taught vocational skills. They also have responsibilities such as cleaning and helping the cooks. We donated bags of rice, salt, sugar, cooking oil, and beans. They said what we brought would last about a month. It was great to see everyone’s donations at work.

Out next stop was Mkombozi. Their facility consisted of many small buildings and was somewhat like a summer camp atmosphere. This was different than Amani which was one large building. Their were roosters walking around everywhere, and we learned that they don’t restrict their crowing to early morning hours. We took a tour of the buildings and looked inside a classroom and one of the dorm rooms. The chalkboard in the classroom had roman numerals up to twenty-four (more than most of us learned!) and some Swahili grammar. The dorm room was full of bunk beds and looked similar to a room at a summer camp. We observed a PE class, which they call non-formal education. The boys all introduced themselves to us and told us how old they were. They wanted to know how old we were too but we just gave them our names. All of the children like to shake hands with us and are very friendly. They did a gymnastics show for us and one of the boys was very talented and did about five or six flips in a row and landed just fine without any kind of mat.

At Mkombozi we donated large amounts of rice, beans, sugar, salt, and oil. They were very grateful for everything. We were grateful for our driver, Ernest, who negotiated everything for us and loaded and unloaded everything out of the van (we would be lost without him).

We stopped for a quick lunch on our way back from Arusha at a local buffet. The food was good but we got charged extra for our noodles, which were on the buffet with everything else. Our waitress told us that they were “special” noodles. They were really just plain noodles with a few vegetables mixed in but we were not able to argue our way out of paying extra.

From lunch we drove straight to the offices of Mkombozi and went on a long walk in downtown Arusha with two social workers to talk to street children. The social workers go out every day to check on the street children. They find out what supplies they need, who may need medical attention, and educate them on what Mkombozi does at the residential center in Moshi. They also spend a lot of time building trust with the kids.

We stopped at several locations and waited for the street children to come to us. The social workers stop at the same place every day so the children know where to look for them. The children who first approached us were older children, between twelve and seventeen. They all looked small for their age and were dressed in ragged clothing. A lot of people here wear used clothes from the U.S. so we see everything from hometown soccer jerseys to chess club tee shirts. We asked the kids how they ended up on the streets. Most of them are there because they were physically abused at home and/or because of poverty. When we asked if the streets were better than their homes they all said yes. Some of them have been on the streets for five years.

The other groups of children we saw were much younger. Many of them were missing shoes and some were even sharing a pair of shoes. One child would have the right shoe on and one would wear the left. We noticed as we saw more groups of kids that they tend to hang out with kids close to their age. The social workers told us that one of the younger kids was going to be taken back to his family in a few days. All of centers we have visited have the common goal of reunifying kids with their families.

On our way home we went shopping at the Massai market. After a lot of negotiating we all came home with some nice souvenirs. Tomorrow we are going to lay a cement floor at the primary school in Arusha. We will have someone experienced to help us but we don’t know what to expect. After a long day we are all excited to take hot showers, which we have been without for the past two days because we didn’t know that we needed to turn on a red switch to heat the water. We all thought that the red switch would be a bad idea so we’ve been laughing at ourselves for taking cold showers when we only needed a flip a switch. We also laugh at ourselves because we can’t figure out the local currency. One US dollar is equal to about 13,500 schillings so we have gotten confused very easily.

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First Few Days

We arrived in Tanzania late Friday evening.  The flight was extremely long, complete with an announcement from the crew saying that, “Ladies and Gentlemen we have a serious problem,” as we were flying over the Mediterranean.  It turns out the “serious problem” was that they were running out of water in the bathrooms.  They probably could have phrased that announcement a little better to save us all a mild heart attack. 

Friday night, we stayed in a hotel in Arusha and headed out to Tarangire Saturday morning to go on safari.  We did a short drive in the morning and saw some elephants right as they were crossing the road.  We were probably 20 yards away from them and took some amazing pictures.  We headed back to the lodge for lunch and were going to spend some time at the pool, then head back out on another drive.  Unfortunately, the thunderclouds decided to interrupt those plans and we ended up napping instead.  The safari lodge was unlike anything we had ever seen.  The best feature are the giant wood-carved bathtubs.  One room had an elephant, one had a swan, and the last had a whale. 

Sunday morning we did another drive after we left the lodge.  We saw a few more animals this time, including elephants crossing the river that runs through the park.  There was a rumor that there was a lion in one area – the area where we happened to get a hole in the tire of our Land Rover.  Our driver decided that was not the best place to change the tire,  so we waited until we were on our way back to Arusha.  On our way back, we stopped to change the tire and were immediately swarmed by 25-30 Massai children.  We shared candy, water, and pens with them as our driver attempted to change our flat tire.  Again, we ran into problems as the jack broke.  Luckily, one of the older Massai children helped and another Land Rover stopped to help and let us use their jack.  The passengers in that car were from France, and we spent a few minutes talking with them about our experiences on the safari.  We thought all was well after the tire was replaced and we headed back to Arusha, but we were mistaken.  About 30 miles outside of Arusha, we broke an axle in the truck as we went over a speed bump.  This didn’t require immediate repair, and we were able to make it back to Arusha, just at a slightly slower pace.  We had a nice lunch in Arusha and made our way to TCDC, the former college where we will be staying for the next few nights.  We had dinner there, caught up on some email, and headed to bed. 

This morning we went to get plane tickets for our flights to Zanzibar on Friday.  When we went in to inquire about availability, we were told that there were no seats available.  No one was happy with the thought of an 8 hour drive on Friday, especially with another 18 hour flight approaching.  However, we decided to play the Tanzanian game and sent our driver in instead.  He came out with the news that we could get tickets, we would just have to arrive at the airport a little earlier because our tickets were kicking others off of the plane.  It’s amazing how everything can be negotiated here. 

This afternoon we headed to lunch, then stopped by Mkombozi Center for Street Children.  We made some arrangements to spend tomorrow afternoon there interviewing children with the social workers.   Then, we headed to Cradle of Love.  Cradle of Love is a baby home that takes in children between the ages of 0-2, whose families have passed away or cannot afford to keep them.  This was our first opportunity to use our fundraising money for donations and we bought 10 packs of 52 diapers, 10 packs of baby wipes, 10 plastic diaper covers, 5 bars of baby soap, and 24 cans of formula.  They told us that amount of formula would last around two weeks.  We had a great time playing with the children and asking questions of the staff.  It is very interesting to see how different these types of programs are in Tanzania and the United States. 

Tomorrow we will be watching the Rwandan genocide tribunal in the morning, and spending time at Mkombozi in the afternoon.  Thanks for reading, and we will try to keep you updated as much as possible! Thank you to everyone who participated in our fundraising to buy donations for the various organizations we will be visiting while on our trip.  They are very much appreciated!

- Adrianne

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Tanzania 2010

The latest installment of CSL’s African  Adventures:  Spring Break 2010 in Tanzania. 

This Spring Break, Colleen Mullan, Adrianne Peters, Laura Niedosik,  and Amber Slaughter are in Tanzania & Zanzibar as part of their Comparative Law course with Professor Buske.  Over the next 10 days, we’ll visit orphanages, child advocacy organizations, baby homes and street child programs.  (We’ll probably go on a short safari too!) 

We hope you’ll follow us on our latest adventures.  Email is somewhat limited, but we’ll do our best to post (maybe with pictures) every day.

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