toward the ledge:

changing the world thru loving and serving others. without agenda


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mama aisha

today, alhamis (thursday) monessa and sara join us from sweden. they have been in moshi for several weeks volunteering for another organization but wanted to live somewhere where there were other mzungus and mazungumzo (conversation). so they will be part of our group for perhaps another month? madelon (holland) will be leaving us saturday to travel about tanzania before returning home. she has been away from home 2 years.

today, i am still pampering the massive blister on my heel (reported last week). okay maybe it’s not massive but it IS the worst one i’ve ever had. so massive it is. πŸ™‚ because the work i am concentrating on for foot2afrika and rudisha is internet/computer oriented, i have been working from the hostel for a few days . and this gives my heel a bit more time to heal. πŸ™‚ i don’t mean to be a big old baby about the blister but it has actually been fairly painful; my primary concern is infection as we are always in the dirt and i have no good ways to keep it clean and sterilized. i cannot wear a regular shoe either because of it. the tevas are awesome, love them! but my foot apparently was not used to the heel cup as it rubbed and i did walk probably too far before adjusting to them. my bad.

now…. i would like to introduce you to the project leader at rudisha. it’s rather basic right now, but i hope that i can share more with you later.

mama aisha at the sewing machine, rudisha women group

aisha (ah ee sha) juma ally is 50 years old. most of the volunteers, being younger, call her mama aisha (common to call women older than you mama and their name). i haven’t divulged that i’m older so i just call her mama too πŸ™‚

aisha is a hard working woman and is the leader of the group. she is married to a man with mental problems. they had seven children before her husband became sick about 8 years ago. and now, the everyday life and family care lies in aisha’s hands. due to the families hardships, the children are not able to attend school. aisha’s children include: chichi (16), aziza (13), aduly (8) years and maimune (14) years. Three other children have passed away.

mama aisha is capable of reading and writing kiswahili and is eager to learn to speak english better. she has the self determination to develop the other women and manage her family.

my note: with a ready smile, a willingness to learn and listen, aisha is very easy to work with. and because she does speak limited english, we are able to converse with her to a degree. i hope to share more about her later….

swahili time! random (sorta) selections while browsing thru my e-sw dictionary. good night time reading πŸ™‚

moyo – heart
nywele – hair (oh,speaking of…i’m thinking about having braided extensions put in! i will let you know if i make that particular leap)
lengelenge -blister πŸ™‚
kupona – heal
posta – mail
manyunyu – shower

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mzungu white chick jumatano update….

ok. sawa. a couple of things on today, wednesday.

first of all, mzungu and white skin is rather redundant as we mzungu folk here are noted by our white skin, and obviously not from here. as you walk along, you hear “mzungu! jambo!” and then…the pitch to buy their wares. hapana! pole! no, sorry! sometimes they will follow you for blocks, even after you insist hapana! talking, insisting all the way. happened today again. finally they leave you alone after you ignore them long enough. i believe that eventually they recognize us and that we won’t buy. one can hope.

i have decided to celebrate/note the small things, so going to town today, via dalla dalla, and wandering the streets a la solo, marked a first event. so, i know – really that’s not like a major victory or anything but i decided to say yay for me anyhow! lol

i did meet up with olga and maria for lunch at the river nile. we all enjoy this african dining establishment – i have yet to see mzungus there besides the three of us. our usual menu selection is kuku and chips (fried chicken, potato/fries and vegetables of some sort). 2,500 tsh (which is less than $2USD) um, chickens here are not as fat as in america so you don’t get as much meat on the old bird, but it’s really tasty. and messy as all get out.

speaking of food, i sampled ugali yesterday, which is defined in my english/swahili book as “stiff porridge“. i believe that africans eat a lot of porridge. it’s made of maize or corn, and ugali is used to dip in sauces, etc. it’s inexpensive, and plentiful. i have not been able to make myself (yet) try the porridge, but after trying the ugali, maybe. i found the ugali to have not much taste. i think i would like to try it sometime with the rest of the meal complements.

since we are in rain season, most days witness a rain for 30 minutes or so. and today in town, i was caught in one of those. hakuna matata, you just stand under an eave somewhere and wait it out. life moves more slowly here, you remember that? pole pole, slowly slowly.

i have been feeling a bit out of place at the women’s project since i suck at sewing and to be honest, am not much interested in it. just saying. πŸ™‚ but johnson and i have had a number of conversations on how i can best assist foot2afrika, the women’s project etc. and that’s through some business admin, marketing efforts, writing etc. that. makes. me. happy. when you are volunteering you want to feel and know that you are making a difference and i think that this is a great fit. of course i will still go to the project as i adore those women and want to find ways to lift them up. it just happens that i can’t help much with the sewing part. maria has been an awesome addition to the sewing lessons for the women but she leaves at the end of this week 😦

those of you that are not on facebook with me missed yesterday’s photo posting of la stork. now that is an interesting creature and i don’t recall ever seeing one, even in a zoo. i’m sure that some zoo must have one! but this one walked up close to our table at lunch yesterday and you could look her in the eyeball, she’s that big. not a fair looking bird at all but so fun to see african wildlife up close and personal. i’m still hoping to go on a safari before i leave for more glimpses of awesome creatures of this continent.

today, madelon from holland arrived; she is not a volunteer but passing through this area for a few days and staying at the hostel. she speaks excellent english so we had a great conversation. she has been in sri lanka and other parts of asia. individuals traveling alone through various countries, volunteering or not, seems to be more common place than i ever realized. or else i gave it not a thought. and so far, the ones i’ve met have all been women. there is an acknowledgment of sorts – unspoken perhaps – of the bond we share – ah, you too have a call to see the world, experience new cultures, live in the day to day of the people. never in my life did i dream of doing this. i guess i’m a late bloomer. and many of the women here come for reasons of their own. but i’m amazed at how many individuals just have a dream of experiencing so much of the world before they go to university, before they settle down, etc. i applaud them for that, and i wish more of us, regardless of age, would have or avail ourselves to such opportunities. walls, barriers, labels, perceptions, self awareness, friendships, recognition of the greater good and how we all impact each other. not to mention the chance to make a huge difference in lives or organizations. certainly visiting a location on vacation is something, but when you are able to live amongst the people of the land for any period of time, there is a conscious shifting of self. i can’t regret not doing this sooner, as life didn’t position me to do so. but regardless of age, whether during vacation time, or an extended time this is something anyone can do and should consider. sawa, i’ll get off my soapbox.

oh! i haven’t forgotten about introducing you to the women of rudisha. very soon. sasa hivi.

kisses! kubusu! actually kubusu is kiss, and i’m not sure how plurals work in swahili, so keep that in mind.

swahili lessons are within this post, did you notice? oh, and as there are three of us in the common area, working on our laptops, swatting at mosquitoes. damn mbu! vicious!

as always i appreciate and crave your prayers, thoughts, support and comments. nakupenda -love you!


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heart and soul…

at the end of another good day here in moshi, i am just about ready for bed, adding a few blisters to my feet, stronger leg muscles (yay! defined calves!), a few sore spots from all the bouncing around in the dalla dalla and a bit more brown to the skin (except my legs, they are harder to turn for some reason).

oh, and i want to know if you heard the simple piano song….heart and soul…when you saw the blog title. hmm ? πŸ™‚ can that not bring a smile to your face? whether you remember learning it on the keyboard? or it brings to mind tom hanks in big, when he’s in fao schwarz on the giant keyboard on the floor?

i certainly heard the tune. crap. i think it’s going to be playing in my head all night now. at least it’s happy! but really this blog is about the heart and soul of volunteers. and come on – meet my fellow volunteers here at foot2afrika. the energy of the hostel starts to change now as volunteers, women i’ve become friends with in a short period of time (you bond over sweat and water bottles, it seems, as well as battle of the language barriers) leave to go home or other places.

marta returned to spain on friday. reyes left this morning for a stop elsewhere before she returns to spain. zoe also left this morning but she plans to backpack around the coastal area of tanzania and perhaps more before she returns to australia in a month or so (she is just 19!) maria has another week or so. then it will be olga and i until other volunteers arrive.

before swahili for the day, i would like to share with you this excerpt from one of the blogs that i subscribe to – jackie robinson/ a heart’s whisper. received it in my in-box today and thought it a perfect sentiment for my current musings. i know many of you are serving others in a variety of ways and you know the awesomeness it brings. i encourage anyone else to find a spot to serve/volunteer/love others.

“my eyes are closed–and my heart wide open. with a soft and gentle spirit I AM HERE.

asking, imploring to know. what would you have me do? i am yours–to serve, to love, to pray, to support. show me the way, for I AM HERE.

my soul’s greatest desire is to love, to connect, to share and bring together the many across this planet in harmony, love, joy and peace.

love. laughter. life. available to all.”

and now are you ready for swahili for the day – how about the months? πŸ™‚

january – mwezi wa kwanza (kwanza = first, mwezi = month)
february – mwezi wa pili (pili = second, and so on)
march – mwezi wa tatu
april – mwezi wa nne
may – mwezi wa tano
june – mwezi wa sita
july – mwezi wa saba
august – mwezi wa nane
september – mwezi wa tisa
october – mwezi wa kumi
november – mwezi wa kumi na moja (kumi = ten) plus (moja = one)
december – mwezi wa kumi na mbili (as above plus (mbili = two)

see ya at the next post. asante sana for your continued support! love and hugs to you!


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rudisha: return/recycle

did ya miss me? πŸ™‚ i haven’t posted in several days, partly because one day was spent being sick (ya don’t want to know the details i’m sure but sooner or later i was likely to deal with this). this weekend has been a lovely pace of watching the variety of birds (can’t get close enough for good pics) and flowers, reading, enjoying time with the other volunteers in town, my first coffee in some time (caffeine for that matter). and yes, i’m recovered at this point, thankfully!

today, i would like to introduce you more fully to the project that i’m working with. the rudisha women group (yes, that’s right. women group, not women’s group – that’s how it was set up) was established to help empower local women although they will extend outreach to anyone who needs it. they are producing bags made out of varieties of african fabric, jeans and cement bags; the recycling and reusing of goods is the reason for the group name – rudisha in kiswahili means to return. these individuals wanted this organization to say that they are helping themselves by helping nature to reuse and also making themselves return to the community as stronger individuals.

they all have stories that can make you think deeply, perhaps shed a tear or even weep, and feel blessed and thankful for the life you have. their smiles and diverse personalities are endearing. like many africans, they live on around $1/day or so. less than $400 USD per year. maybe. think about that, can you imagine that level of poverty? yes, the cost of living here is much lower, but not that low. in a country, a nation that doesn’t have public assistance, many jobs, or an education for everyone. they have done what they can to survive. choices are not always easy or defined as we have defined them. as a volunteer, i will be visiting their homes as the months go by, which i’m sure will break my heart even more for them. but they are all strong individuals and i am thankful for the opportunity to get to know them. to work alongside them. to lift them up in some way.

for now, i will introduce them to you, 1-2 at a time with information as has been provided to me. as i visit their homes, i hope to get more in-depth information, photos to help you also know them.

for now, here are their names

aisha
happiness
apolonia
mwanakombo
priska
sarah
halima
claud

they range from 27 years of age to 50. they are learning a skill (sewing) and also the plan is to bring in someone to teach them english. johnson and i have discussed finding someone to also teach them basic business skills, perhaps certification, so that they could eventually run a small business of their own.

but for now, we try to ensure that there are adequate materials (zippers, buttons, fabric, good scissors, basic sewing materials and tools). we help them with quality and creative elements. a challenge for me is that i don’t sew or know much about it, so my assistance won’t be in that manner! but i have a few ideas that will pan out hopefully. i am learning that i must be more patient and learn more and then i will be in a better position to assist. um, you know that patience is not my strongest point. i want to jump in, make it happen, know it all now! well, for me, a lesson to learn here in africa. a good one for sure.

stay tuned to meet the individuals of the rudisha women group in the near future.

swahili lesson for the day – pronunciation tips. i have this on my cheat sheet and look at it daily to help me say the words properly. it may help any of you learning swahili along with me. πŸ™‚ if you aren’t sure how to say it, let me know and i’ll help (best i can. i’m still a beginner!)

a – as in calm
e – as in ey in they
i – as in ee in keep
o – as in go
u – as in oo in moon
r – use a light d (habari is not like safari as we’d say, it’s habadi (but not a strong d)
dh – as th in this (tafadhali/please is tafathali)
ny – an ni in onion (nyama/meat nu ah mah)
ng – as in singer (ngapi/how much? ng ah pee)
gh – like ch in scottish loch (ghali/expensive kahlee)
g – like g in get (gari/car garee)
ch – like church (chai/tea ch ah ee say the ah and ee close together. chai in america is a bit more like ch eye but it’s very close)

for now, love you all. and i do miss you.
til the next post…..


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haggling….for tevas!

today’s africa adventure includes finding tevas (brand of sandals) in my size! (hope you know what tevas are, i never had a need to know before, myself!). if you caught yesterday’s post on the saga of finding tevas in my size….this post will make more sense!

today, after project and lunch, we trek to a street seller that had one pair of tevas with size potential (olga had spotted them late yesterday and thought, hm, they look like the right size!). now listen, i have said this before but you have no idea, or maybe you do, but every street vendor is selling the same stuff on the street. they sit along the side of the road, lay out a blanket, and load the used stuff on it (used shirts and other clothing, used shoes, underwear….i hope that the underwear isn’t used but i did not inspect :). so identifying the ONE seller that had them isn’t as easy as ya think. pole, hapana (sorry, no!) to those that holler at us on the way….

bingo! they fit! how much? the haggling begins. now, i understand the art of negotiation but haggling here is apparently a team sport. suddenly there is a crowd of people gathered around us, above us perched on a wall…wha? the seller writes a number down for me – 2000 tsh. good deal! as i pull out my money, she says ohhhhh i meant 20000 tsh. and hereeeeee we go. olga is much better at this having been here longer so she jumped in, and the crowd was throwing numbers out and cheering; arguments fly back and forth about the value and quality of the used shoes (they really were in good condition!), olga and i confer on what i’m willing to pay. the crowd element makes it a bit more overwhelming (for me at least). anyway, i settle for 14000 tsh, which is about $10USD. i’m happy with the purchase!

last night was rough with bad dreams which i usually do not have nor recall. obviously i didn’t sleep well and apparently it showed on my face as my group inquired. we discussed on the long walk to project and all agreed that it was likely the anti malarial med – which has a variety of undesirable side effects. the others have already discontinued their antimalarial due to forgetting or side effects. i don’t want to undergo more nightmare nights but i don’t want malaria either. actually because of the altitude here, the mosquitoes are apparently not as bad. but evening is the time we have to deal with the critters. this is all part of being in malaria prone countries tho.

can you believe that today i saw the peak of kilimanjaro in the distance for the first time. cloud cover obscured much detail but it’s a magnificent view, the bit that i did see. i realized that i have been watching the path where i walk so that you don’t trip, fall, turn an ankle, etc. this kept my focus down instead of looking up for the view. in town, the buildings block it as well, you have to be at a certain vantage point. i’m going to try to be more aware….

other ways of life here:

there is no mail delivery. you cannot purchase a stamp anywhere but the post office. and apparently that is an inefficient, perhaps corrupt dept. if you were to ship me a package via the postal system, i might get it in a month, and it might be opened and rifled through, and i might have to pay a ‘fee’ to retrieve it.

every address is a p.o. box. street signs, really? there are just a few and hard to find, low to the ground. my eye now knows where to look tho….i’m catching on. then i get my map out and figure out where i am. i am totally lost on my directions tho. in the states, i have a good sense of that but here, not so much.

no ice. i do freeze my water bottle in the freezer so that it’s really cold for the walk the next day. but no cubes. never in a drink. soda is served in a 350ml bottle, bottled by the local coca cola plant. only coke products are found here. i suspect that the ice issue is common in many countries with water quality issues. but i think it’s also a bit of a cultural thing here too, not drinking things as cold.

cell phones are everywhere but you purchase credits, not minutes. 1000 credits gets you 30 minutes of talking, and 60 credits for a txt. when you reload your sim card with more credits, you get something like a small lottery ticket, scratch off to reveal the special code; then enter the code into the phone via a bit of a cumbersome process. you CAN buy these just about anywhere. i have a small nokia for in country use but i just learned how the credits and re-load works today.

no street lights. which means after dark it is DARK. but it also means that you can see the stars in the sky.

speaking of the stars, as i watched the night sky a few nights ago, trying to remember from childhood the names of the different constellations, in a very quite peaceful moment, it occurred to me that we all are under one big sky and universe. and truly we are all one. we know this of course but interesting how our daily lives keep us focused on other things, maybe not even the right things, and it’s easy to forget something quite simple. and we should stop, look up more often, contemplate what we are blessed with and how we can slow our lives down just a bit. re-consider priorities. breathe. love. give.

swahili for the day:

alhamisi (say al ahmis, don’t say the last i) – thursday
ijumaa – friday
mimi – i
wewe – (say wayway) – you
nakupenda – i love you

ps. i only have 1 gb on my internet modem and i’ve already reached 50% of my capacity for the month in 1 week. obviously this hampers my photo uploads. plus you cannot take pictures everywhere either due to the issue i mentioned in previous post. but i’m hoping to get more pics somehow someway and upload as i can.

badaye! (say ba DIE) – Later!


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7 days in…..

this evening, as i bounced around in the back of the dalla dalla back to the hostel, head hitting the hard side of the van, smushed into the woman and baby next to me, my mind swirled with what i would share with you. how can i continue to paint a word picture of life in africa and my own place here?

7 days here and in some ways it seems like years ago i arrived late wednesday the 16th. i’m still in that adjusting phase….there are moments and then there are moments, if you catch my drift. but i am quite cognizant that this is a process, a journey of change, change that i leapt to. no regrets for sure but i do long for the time when things click. marta (spain, here 1 month) said that she just recently arrived in the comfort zone, so i will keep the 1 month benchmark in mind. i am gradually letting go of my need for instant fixes, quick turnarounds, my ability to adjust rapidly. i just continue to take one day at a time. even literally one step at a time in the hot sun. and every day i do see changes. i now recognize stores and places in the market area. today, i found myself saying ah yes, straight here and now i see the indoitalian restaurant. if i go left, left and right i will find the coffee shop. today, i did the market/dalla dalla/hostel/walk on my own. i knew where to go!

a day in the life here – so far – is up at 7:30, breakfast and head out around 8:30 – 9:00 for the project. whenever you are done (2 – 3:30) head back. remember you have about 1.5 hours transportation time each way. usually some market time before heading to hostel takes place. back at the hostel, cool down, read, update blog. dinner at 7ish. it is very dark by 7, especially when power is out). shower, relax a bit and i’ve been in bed by 8:30-9.

oy vey. i wish, i wish, i wish i would have come here with a pair of tevas. my merrell hiking shoes work but a sandal for trekking long distance would be oh so much nicer on the feet. so olga kindly helped me with shopping after project today. found a few possibilities – but apparently women with my very average (sz 7) feet do not exist here, so….. pole sana (very sorry), smallest is a 39-40 euro size. way big on me. bummer. and i would order over the internet but shipping from store to here….mmmm…very expensive. and i mistakenly thought – ah, this is a large community. i can get ‘stuff’ that i need here. WRONG. a lot of things are just not available here. no big supermarket. no super walmart. no fast food. TIA, this is africa.

if it were not for the computer when i power up, i would have no idea what date it is. sometimes i don’t even know what day of the week it is. without the familiar structures and schedules….one day is just like another. i still wear my watch so i do know the time.

transacting business here is much like i would imagine for our ancestors. you can do some haggling in most places. no receipts are given. no sales tax (ah, nice eh? perspective point: without some taxation, there is NO infrastructure, improvements, etc. nothing. i’m not on a political slant here but you must understand that without it, we would live much differently. we wouldn’t like it either). the clerk writes down what you are purchasing in a notebook, ledger, whatever they have. inventory is done much the same way.

on most days, i return just ready for a shower. yesterday, we returned to the hostel to discover – no power. 😦 TIA. so you splash with cold water, get your hair wet, and try to find a breeze to cool down. and then reading until dinner outside til light fades, dinner prep, dining – all done without power, with the assistance of flashlights, small lanterns. post dinner, i gratefully took that cold shower because i was not going to bed all sweaty, dirty, stinkin. and thankfully the power came on close to bedtime (but after my cold shower of course lol) – good because having a fan move the air makes things tolerable.

now that I’ve made some friends, there is a volunteer shift about to happen. marta (spain) leaves friday; reyes (spain) leaves monday and maria is here for a few more weeks. zoe (australia) has another several weeks i believe. olga (spain), however, will continue to stay. hazel (london) was here as she was passing thru after volunteering in kenya and nairobi and is now on to zanzibar.

so, let’s talk toilets, may we? LOL not something we speak of much, or need to, in America. i have friends that wouldn’t dare use a public toilet back in the states. i would but was rather particular. well, TIA. today, couldn’t make myself use the toilet at the project, so thought, ah i’ll wait til we are back in market town. so at my fav coffee shop, i am surprised by this version of the potty. the toilet ‘seat’ is in the floor/ground and the tank is mounted high on the wall with a pull cord to flush. so….you stand/squat over it πŸ™‚ i guess it’s better than a squatty potty which involves ground, dirt, shovel. no, i haven’t had to experience that thank God! the project has a similar set up as in the coffee shop, but the flusher doesn’t work so you take a bucket of water in with you and pour in until things “move along.”

sometimes. sometimes i wonder what the heck i was thinking. i HATE to sweat. i have had frequent shin splints when walking (but so far, hakuna matata). i like to be clean. and where did i pick? africa! or it picked me, i don’t know.

my friend johnny shared an article as a comment on the blog; excerpt below. it has come to mind a number of times – i feel i’m outside the ground (and comfort) rules, and there are harsh realities here in africa. and certainly at this point, i seem to be in the process of getting rid of the life that i thought i was on track for. at this point, it leaves me still a bit wobbly but every day, it’s a bit better. as you know, i feel strongly i’ve been led to this place and i’m still waiting to discover the whys, wherefores, and for what purpose. just continuing to breathe. and trust.


“A life of discovery, a life where you step outside the ground rules and embark upon a grand adventure, get transformed by harsh realities and unspeakable beauties, and bring back what you’ve experienced so that you can create something new. You have to strive every minute to get rid of the life that you have planned in order to have the life that’s waiting to be yours.”
– An Open Life: Joseph Campbell in Conversation with Michael Toms

OK, swahili lesson for today! and linda – i love that you speak to me in swahili in the comments. smooches, love you too! carla j: got your message re photos of architecture. will work on that! and to each of you: as i’ve continued to say – your presence via comments, etc is gratefully appreciated! i love when you share that others are also reading – whether your spouse, children, etc! and your continued prayers. love to you from deep in my heart.

kesho kutwa – yesterday
leo (say layo) – today
kesho – tomorrow

pole sana – (say pol long a) very sorry
hapana – no (have to say this a lot to all the people on the street selling, hapana, pole sana)

samahani – excuse me


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the first day ‘on the job’ :)

a full night’s sleep finally (thanks to my friend, ambien lol). a simple breakfast that included tamarind juice. are you familiar with? me neither. click on the link to learn more. we are lucky to enjoy fresh fruit, juice, vegetables every day at every meal. πŸ™‚ and then it was time to start the day.

since my fellow women project volunteers were not yet back from their weekend jaunt to zanzibar, msafiri accompanies me to the project site but ‘tests’ me along the way to make sure i am learning the way. thankfully i remembered all the stops, dalla dallas, turns, etc. maybe.

…..justttttt maybe i’m starting to get the swing of it. however, i don’t veer off course of familiar just yet. soon, probably. and every street, corner and venue is lined up with street sellers of something – shoes, american style clothing (used probably), veggies, fruit, did I say shoes? OMG, there is a ton of people just selling shoes….they are lined up on cloth, in stands, in buckets…everywhere SHOES! i dunno. so right now it all looks the same…….

as a memory jogger – the project is called radishu; a group of women in various situations (oh there is one guy too) come here daily, some with their children and they primarily sew a variety of tote type bags and a few other sundry items. the interior is lined with recycled plastic mesh type fabric that were in a former life concrete bags. today…i had the honor to cut fabric for a bag (that i’m purchasing btw),sew on buttons, handles, and a variety of other things. i am in no way whatsoever a seamstress and i’m way out of my comfort zone on these tasks lol. none of these items were difficult mind you but….i’m not real handy with a needle. my memories of sewing are not necessarily fond. πŸ™‚

ah well, you know me, right? of course – i have some additional ideas for items the women could make and perhaps that would allow us to increase the number of people we help. also, i would love to find a way to incorporate an entrepreneurial program so that they would learn basic business skills, and allow them to be independent after a period of time to run a business. i look forward to exploring the potentiality of such ideas.

and the adorable children: in the mornings there is a group of small kiddos from the benite area that come onto the property. when i pulled out my camera, while some were shy, uncertain, there were a few (as always!) in the group that immediately became camera hams. me! me! jumping in front of others, making faces. just loved them from the first moment.

i knew this and i’m sure you do too (but much of the world’s leadership doesn’t always seem to get it) but learning it even more every day – despite differences in skin color, religions, cultures, opportunities, people including kids – are quite universal in so many ways. they want to be happy, have their basic needs met, love their families, want to improve their way of being, want to be treated in a considerate manner. they want their children to have better than they had. they desire choices and not be persecuted for them. if the world could learn and accept that, it would be a much more loving peaceful planet.

so i digress – back to the day – lunch time. oh. my. i admit, confess that i had to overcome my mind. in america, we are very focused on cleanliness, and here we are at a facility that has no running water, i have just ridden on two dalla dallas, crammed sweat to sweat, cheek to cheek (yes, YES the BO is rank. sigh. no option, deal) and then walked 30 minutes. and the kitchen? basically a fire area right on the concrete floor and there is another heating method of sorts. on the floor. we are having mboga with wali and nyama. in other words rice, some cut of beef and vegetables. you are at least 30 minutes from town, most of it walking and so..i ate with these lovely women (and claud). it was good but i kept thinking of the whole sanitary issue, i couldn’t help it! it did impact my appetite. just sayin. i feel badly but this… is africa. and this is part of the experience. i recognize that this is probably the only good meal that these women (and children) get on a daily basis. and i do not wish to disrespect that. but i couldn’t make myself go the ‘toilet’ there – it’s an outside building. i just couldn’t! my mind drew the line! luckily i must have sweat out any moisture of me lol. so it didn’t become an issue. thank you God.

3 pm, ready to head back. for the first time, now, i’m on my own. caught the dalla dalla, arrived in town at the byoni market, found my way to the coffee shop for a cold sprite, and connected with msafiri. a trip into the food market area to pick up a few things, msafiri and i taxi out to the street children’s center, where i was greeted with many more lovely shining faces, enjoying the attention with the camera.

i have a small spiral notebook that contains notes and directions of where i’m going. i have people write down their names and words that they are trying to communicate to me. i have a page that says: deb – america – oklahoma. just like it’s difficult for me to understand words like ndiyo, which is said with the nd together, if i see it i can better say it, remember it. and i find over and over that deb is difficult for them. if i say united states sometimes they jump to united kingdom so….america is best. also, they all want to know obama! i even saw an obama salon. they love him, of course. you are from america? oh…obama! do you like? LOL it is very against the law of the land to discuss politics here, in a socialist government. and i carefully do not discuss any american politics either.

and for those that wonder, yes i wear a hat, suncreen and carry a 1.5l bottle of water. makeup and hairdos – out the flippin window. however, the sunscreen didn’t help much today. got some burn…

it’s 8:30, dinner is just over and i’m going to crawl under the mosquito net now. after last night’s rain, they are particularly active. i’m. wiped. plumb. out. πŸ™‚

*love you all.*

for those that enjoy the new language:
new swahili words for the day

moto joto – hot, very hot, as fire (like the weather today)
piki piki – motorcycle (lots here)
baiskeli – bicycle
karibu – you are welcome
nzuri, asante. na habari za kwako? – i’m fine thanks – and how are you?

limited to space here on the blog to upload photos i have them on flickr. the links to each of these were also shown above, but repeated here in case you need to copy and paste into your browser.

if for some reason, the links don’t take you directly to the photo set, you can find me at here at the home page

radishu women: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60886379@N06/sets/72157626193178429/

children at radishu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60886379@N06/sets/72157626193187697/

street children: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60886379@N06/sets/72157626193160029/