For anyone who volunteers or works in Tanzania they will tell you that their favorite thing is walking down the steps from the airplane at Kilimanjaro airport onto the tarmac of the runway. It is at that moment where they first have the feeling of returning to a magical place. On my fourth trip here that feeling was still there. You land, you step out of the airplane, breath the air, look around at the landscape, and you know you are about to see old friends and familiar faces. You know that immigration is going to suck, customs officers are going to insist you pay them corruption costs for your bags, and tour guide operators are going to shout at you as you walk through the front door. You also know that after you get through those things you are going to be greeted with huge hugs, warm smiles, and the excitement of getting back to the rewarding work you are doing. It is like arriving to your home after you have been away for a while familiar in one sense but a bit different due to your past absense.
Arriving in Tanzania again felt like we had never left. One of closest friends Mussa picked us up at the airport 30 minutes late- Tanzanian Time- we were happy it was only 30 minutes and not 1 hour (: . We spent the day seeing old friends and then the weekend getting situation in our house. We are living in a three-bedroom house with Jillian, Mussa and I on the main road of Rau village. It is about 20 minutes walk from the town of Moshi and about 20-minute bus ride from Kilimahewa. We have two bathrooms within our house. One is a squatter African style toilet and shower that we call the boys bathroom and another is a western toilet and shower that is the girl’s bathroom. The first weekend we scrubbed the walls and the bathroom and watched as African dirt and dust washed down the walls. After intense cleaning we rearranged the furniture, went the market (the African version of Target), and finally felt like we were at home. It was in that first weekend we also experienced the problems with East African power. Apparently there no longer is any. Actually there is power about 3-4 days a week in short bursts. We learned that 70% of the power is run by hydroelectric and due to the low water levels very few have power regularly. This is crazy because only about 12% of the population even has access to power. The lack of power has never been so bad since we have been here and it has made it really hard to keep things charged, have hot showers, or get any work done. But all in all our house is quite nice. We have constant people visiting and it very much feels like home.
In our first few working days Jillian and I met with Mama Grace and toured the programs we are supporting here in Tanzania. We visited Kilimahewa, viewed the water project, and visited with an Occupational therapist who works with kids with autism. We made a list of our goals and a schedule of how to accomplish them. Our plan is to stay in Arusha 2 days a week with Mama Grace working with families that have kids with autism, spend 2 days a week working with the Kilimahewa kids and families, and spend one day a week running around seeing our sponsorship kids, or meeting with different people within the community. All in all even though we are hear for a year it will be a lot to accomplish.
The best thing that happened this week was the final installment of the water pump at Kilimahewa Education Center. We went there on Friday to meet with the water engineer and watched as he installed the pump. After the pump was installed we watched as clean water was pumped from solar panels to the school of Kilimahewa. This was a very long awaited and exciting day. The kids came out to see what was going on and the science teacher explained the way solar power works. Over the next few weeks trenches will be dug and pipe will be laid to run water further into the village. The water that is now available due to this water project will provide better health and nutrition to over 500 people within this community. It was super great and a day I was so excited to be here for. Such a long road of fundraising and speaking events and finally- water! (:
I will keep you posted on things. My computer only has 5% battery and there is currently no power so pictures and videos I have taken will have to wait.
Check out our blog from EdPowerment to see some of the pictures.