Friday, September 30, 2011

My Week (warning: this is a very long post)

SUNDAY. From 8am-5pm I had the joy of feeding newborns, changing diapers, bouncing fussy babies, and playing with the giggly babies in the nursery. We have two new babies named Clinton and Gloria. Clinton was found abandoned on the ground in Arusha so he was brought to the Cradle of Love. Gloria’s parents both have leprosy. Her mother died after she was born and her father is a beggar on the streets, but he would like to have her back once she is two years old.
Another exciting event in the nursery is the break out of Scabies! Yuck. Zawadi, a darling 2 month old, broke out with it initially and spread it to many of the other babies. Thankfully, it has not spread to the big house yet. I pray it will not! Scabies broke out last year and went around for about 10 months. The staff, the volunteers, and the children all took their turn fighting the unpleasant skin disease.
Anyways, my Sundays in the nursery are great and I look forward to them not only because I love the little babies, but because yummy snacks are included! At 11am, one of the nannies brings over some Chai tea and mandazi (a Tanzanian doughnut sort of thing) and at 2pm, they bring over beans and rice. Delicious!
MONDAY was an average day. Feeding time at 9am, preschool from 10am-12pm, and then feeding time again! After the kids are down for a nap, we have our lunch break. During that time, I walked down the dusty road to the post office to check the mailbox for packages or letters. It was empty, but to look at the bright side, I got a little bit of exercise out of the walk! After the kids nap time, it’s play time once again. At 5pm, it’s supper time and then one by one the kids are taken to get their heavy cloth diapers changed and their jammies put on. A lot of the diapers are soaked through or hanging down, their tops are covered in ugi (porridge) and their faces are a mess. This is a very noisy time! After about an hour, the smaller ones are put to bed and all the toddlers are cleaned up and looking adorable in their pajamas. We sing songs and do actions until snack time at 6:30 when they get to eat a boiled egg or a piece of bread with peanut butter on it. At 7pm, it’s kulala (sleeping) time! We tuck them in, exchange a goodnight kiss, and drape the mosquito net over their cribs. They stick their thumbs in their mouths and go to sleep!
TUESDAY morning started with a jog at 7am! Sarah is my faithful jogging partner and we try to get out before the heat of the day rises. After a cold shower, devotion time, and some fruit for breakfast, we head downstairs again for the normal routine. We made a zebra craft in preschool and also learned about the porcupine! For lunch we ate chapati with guacamole and tomatoes and for desert, we had chapatti with peanut butter and honey! (creative, I know) Since I have Tuesday afternoons off, I looked after the twins, David and Silvamos, who are now 2 months old. I did a Swahili lesson while they were asleep and bounced and fed them while they were awake. Simon, an ADRA worker comes up to the apartment every night to cuddle the twins and visit with us. It was an uneventful and pleasant evening!
WEDNESDAY was full of surprises. Hope and Lazaro are the eldest children in the orphanage. They are turning 4 today! They came to the orphanage as premature twins because their mother died and their father could not afford to look after them. Now they are brilliant kids and they love to help with the younger babies. They are due to move to an older children’s home this month because their father is very poor and old and lives in a village far away. He still cannot afford to look after them and provide for them the education they need and deserve, but he visits every once in awhile. He needed to sign some documents for them to be able to move to the next orphanage, so he visited on Wednesday morning! It was interesting to see because he didn’t do much with them at all except for hold them on his lap, but they loved it. They talk about their dad all the time and want to go home with him. He had quite a few teeth missing and the remaining ones were brown (which is not uncommon here) and he was poorly dressed. He didn’t speak any English, but Hope and Lazaro were chatting away to him in English and Swahili because they are quite fluent in both. They were showing him books and coloring pictures and he just sat there. It was an interesting sight to watch. When it was time for him to go, they sobbed and sobbed and he simply left. It was an event that I didn’t quite understand, but it brought tears to my own eyes as I tried to comfort Hope and Lazaro. After lunch, Claire and I had some errands to run, so we hopped on the dala dala and settled in for a bumpy, stinky ride. About half way to Arusha, at one of the stops, there was an unusual crowd of people all standing around and jabbering loudly. Everyone inside the dala dala was peering out to see what was going on. Apparently, a man had tried to steal something and so a mob of people killed him…they burned him, to be exact. I am sure there is more to the story, but that is all we could get out of the explanation in broken English from someone sitting next to us. The sight of the burned, dead man on the ground made my stomach and heart do flip-flops. It was grotesque and extremely sad. Unfortunately, I will never forget that picture. For everybody else, though, life seemed to move on. Some more people climbed on the already crowded dala dala and the door slammed shut as we zoomed on into town.
THURSDAY morning was a happy one! Claire, Lilli, Sarah and I took the preschoolers to the game lodge down the road where they have animals that have been injured in some way, which causes them to be endangered in the wild. This place provides a beautiful and safe environment for these animals to live in. These kids have VERY rarely ridden in a car or been anywhere but the orphanage so it is quite an experience taking them out. They got to see zebras, crocodiles, eagles, porcupines, monkeys, lizards, ostriches, exotic birds and an Eland. We had them all sitting on the wall gazing at the animals when the Eland decided to walk over and be friendly! As it started coming toward us, you could see the fear start to increase in the children’s eyes. As it got closer they all got up and ran away screaming and crying at the top of their lungs,. The kids did this routine for almost all of the animals. It was hilarious! But slowly it got better and one by one, they got brave enough to go say hello to the different animals and peak over the wall at the porcupines. It was our first field trip and we had a jolly good time! Since we had a few potty trainers, we had to bring a little plastic potty-chair along and take potty breaks by the car. Those are always funny because all the kids just pull down their pants while they wait for their turn. In a public venue like this game/wildlife lodge, we got many odd looks—four white girls (mizungus) with 8 black kids with no pants on waiting for a potty in the middle of an empty parking lot! Anyways, it was great to get them out and expose them to animals in real life instead of just pictures of these animals in preschool. For lunch, we made “chips mayai” which is a Tanzanian dish of French fries and eggs fried together to make a big patty type thing. Greasy, but delicious! After that, I chopped up a watermelon, sweet melon, and a pineapple for a fruit salad. Yum! I swept and mopped the apartment with one twin strapped on my back and the other in a car seat, rotating them whenever one got fussy! It’s great fun having these twins up here because it keeps life interesting.
FRIDAY morning was the last day of the month, so there was a staff meeting. All of the nannies crowded into the back play room with Claire and talked about the events of the last month and what they could do to improve. They sang some songs in Swahili as well, which was lovely to hear! While this meeting was going on, us volunteers tried to keep some of the children distracted in the front playroom. We introduced the game of soccer! Some caught on, some did not…but we had a great time. After lunch, Claire and I went into town again (it doesn’t usually happen twice in a week, but we ran out of baby formula). We purchased more baby formula and some more diapers for the nursery. Since I am a relatively impulsive person, I made a random decision to cut my hair! While in town, I thought I should do it while I had the chance. So I did it! More than 10 inches off my head..boom just like that. I haven’t had short hair like this since I was in grade 3, but it feels pretty good. I may look like I am in grade 3 again, but now I can spend less time in the freezing cold shower and the kids will have less hair to tug on and pull out. I learned early on that long hair doesn’t do well with 49 children.
So that was my week! Now you know, roughly, what a week is like for me here in Tanzania. Though we may have a routine, I have learned that it ALWAYS changes in Africa. Each week holds some new twist and nothing ever goes the way it’s planned. This can be frustrating sometimes, but I love the spontaneity! This was a long blog post, so if you made it all the way through, congratulations! I just thought I would update you on my life lately since we haven’t had internet all week. I would have loved to add pictures to each one of the descriptions of the days this week, but the internet is sooo slow right now, it would take an hour to load one picture. So I’ll add pictures later!
Now it is 10:15 on Friday night and I am gratefully welcoming in the Sabbath!  Tomorrow we are having communion and I know it will be a very special day. I praise God for what I have learned this week, the way He reveals Himself through the children and the way He is working in my life. Thanks for your prayers and I hope you have a wonderful Sabbath.


  1. Beth...what a fascinating look into your life...and the lives around you. I totally love the visual of the potty and all the little people in funny! You have shared so vividly, that I can almost see and smell and feel what you are telling us. Thank you for taking the time to share...first of all...share your time and life with these beautiful children...secondly....for sharing it with us at home, who hold you up in prayer each I marvel at some of the things you go through! Looking forward to seeing your new hair do! Interestingly, Tijana just had 10 inches of her hair cut off too...and sent it to 'Locks of Love'. Have a wonderful week. Love you so much! Auntie Karen xo

  2. So good to read all about your life, and yes I did read the whole thing! :D I love you muchly and you are in my prayers! Hope we can skype again soon!

  3. Loved reading about your week. So much happens there in just one short week, doesn't it? Yuck, scabies is awful. I'm so glad the long outbreak in the big house got cleared up but it's not good news about scabies in the nursery. If it's not cleared up soon it can scar the kids, so hopefully it gets looked after and the babies can be happy and non-itchy again soon. So sad to hear the story of Hope and Lazaro and their father. I hope they fit in well at their new home and thrive. The story about the man getting killed is a sad one, but one that, Simon told me, is not uncommon in Tanzania. There is no trial to see if someone is guilty, the crowd decides and usually it's not in the favour of the one accused. The preschool field trip sounds so lovely! Great idea to show them the animals that live in their country! Mmmm, I miss chips mayai... Thanks for the update on your life! :)