This blog just came in from Eric M, with pictures added by the leaders!
We began our week at the Mufindi Children’s Village, a small community
nestled in a rural region of rolling hills and wind swaying trees.
This NGO provides a home and learning environment for children who
have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, or for the other odd reason. Our
first experience was to undertake many hours of Swahili instruction
taught by our three of our local hosts, Danni, Akita, and Florien.
Rising with the sun at 6am in our respective homestays and ending the
day at 10 pm created an at times difficult environment in which some
of us struggled against hunger, fatigue, and confusion. Ultimately,
although long, the Swahili courses left many of the students feeling
much more confident when dealing with the non-English speaking locals.
As Tuesday rolled around, we concluded our Swahili classes and home
stay experience and embarked on our volunteer opportunities. We were
divided into three groups; Matt, Gus, and Chris M. in group
one, Myself, Nikolle, Natalie, and Sarah in group two, and Chris P.,
Dayle, Gwen, and Kristian in group three. On the first day of
volunteering, group one walked to the CTC (a local health clinic) ten
kilometers away, group two went to walked to a local primary school to
teach English seven kilometers away, and group three went the village
Kindergarten to help make supplies and teach the children. Due to
arriving at the end of the month when there were no more available
days to provide HIV/AIDS specific treatment, group one arrived at the
CTC early in the morning to find out that there were no patients
coming in that day. After a short tour and a few hours of waiting, all
four of the group members, plus five other medical personnel and a
young, smiling child, loaded up into a Toyota minivan and began to
traverse “roads” that can only be describes as a jeep trail . Group
two discovered that it is very difficult to teach English to native
Swahili speakers without knowing any Swahili, but with a little help
from Yusto and Florien (two English speaking locals), they were able
to make it out of the primary school with everything but their Swahili
confidence intact. Group three emerged from their kindergarten
experience with frazzled hair, paper cuts, and a faint smell of pee.
At the end of the long day groups one, two, and three, all reconvened
at house number four (our communal residence) to enjoy a delicious
meal prepared by Upendo (our expert cook during our time here). With
our story told and our stomachs full, we all wondered off to bed to
enjoy, what seemed, to be our best night sleep.
Now the time has come for me to hand my blogging duties onto the next
student. This is Eric Maronick, on assignment in Mufindi Tanzania,