Sunday, October 16, 2011

Selemani has a Mommy!

Claire has been EXTREMELY excited to go and collect her son from the orphanage. When the official letter was finally written and everything was set, we scurried around getting everything prepared to pick Selemani up from Happy Watoto orphanage. With a big smile on her face, she hopped on the dala dala, clutching her letter of permission to pick him up. Upendo, our social worker, came along as well as me, her volunteer photographer for the event. There seemed to be more dala dala stops than usual, and we had to wait for a long time at some of them, making her a little impatient. At one of the stops, a man squished in beside me with a chicken on his lap. It was kind of a cute chicken, but it stunk. Later on, he put it on the floor in between our feet. It kept flapping its wings, tickling my ankles. About 5 minutes before our stop, it peed on my feet…rather unpleasant.
It was a sweet orphanage. They are under-staffed, but have a nice set-up and well-trained children. The kids had all just had their heads shaved and had uniforms on, making them look a lot alike. It was a tearful goodbye for the caretakers of Selemani, and he could tell something was going on. He whimpered all the way home, but soon warmed up to everything once we arrived at Claire’s new house. I don’t know if I mentioned this already, but Claire asked me to move into her house with her for the first couple of weeks for comfort and moral support :) So Auntie Beth has moved in with Claire and Selemani!
For the first night with Selemani, we had no electricity, so we lit candles, played with toy cars, made pancakes and sat on the kitchen floor eating them! It was a cozy welcome home night. Selemani wouldn’t change his clothes to go to bed, so he slept in his shoes and clothes with Claire in bed beside him. This was his first night without being surrounded by other children in an orphanage. There are a lot of new things for a 2-year-old to get used to, but I think he’ll settle in well. He is already calling Claire, “mommy,” which makes her glow with joy. He’s super cute and babbles away in Swahili as he plays with his toys. I wish I could understand all that he says…I’m working on it, but not really excelling in my Swahili yet. I need to work harder.
It’s been a week now, since we’ve moved in and we’ve encountered many exciting things already!
  1. Selemani wet his bed a couple of times, soaking everything.
  2. The tap in the kitchen sink has so much water pressure, that if you put a dish under the running water to wash it, water sprays EVERYWHERE, so doing the dishes is an exciting job!
  3. The matches in Africa are so junky that it takes about 10 before one works or lasts long enough to light the stove.
  4. The kitchen floor was moving on Tuesday night. Literally thousands upon thousands of ants were having a party in the kitchen. Since we didn’t have the option of screaming and getting Dad to take care of it, Claire and I had to muster up our courage and kill them all ourselves! Then drench the floor in bleach once again.
  5. The kitchen table and chairs she bought feel like they’re going to break whenever you sit on them. (Not because we’re fat, but because they’re junky—they look nice, but won’t last long…that’s how everything in Africa is.)
  6. There’s a lizard family that lives on the walls in every room. (They’re cute and don’t do any harm, I just thought I would mention them.)
  7. The croaking from the toads are SO loud and constant at night that it’s almost like having the generator on back at the orphanage. The crickets, birds, chickens, and cows also like to make themselves known by talking loudly in the evening.
  8. The mud is so thick that the taxi cannot take us to the house…last night I had to get out and walk the last portion of the way.
  9. This morning, I woke up with ants IN MY BED. It’s one thing to have them all over the kitchen floor, it’s another thing to have them in my oatmeal, but I did not appreciate them in my bed. Dead ones and live ones. The dead ones were obviously dead because I rolled on them in my sleep and squashed them. I don’t like the thought of that. Did I eat them in my sleep? I don’t know. I don’t like the fact that I don’t know either.
In general, I love living with Claire and Selemani. I’m enjoying being “Auntie Beth” and looking forward to the surprises that next week will hold! Selemani is doing really well and I’m happy that he has a mommy now who will provide unconditional love and support for him for the rest of his life. There is one less orphan in Tanzania!


  1. HI Sis, I think you guys should buy or adopt an anteater as a pet. That would take care of your ant problems.

  2. I like Bill's thought! So practical!
    I am so very very happy for both Claire and Selemani...I love that there is one less orphan...
    How sweet of you to move in and be Aunt Beth! I don't like how many ants are there with you. You are very brave...though I don't know that you have much choice in the matter! Your writing is so very the chicken story...I am completing your little package today and will mail it tomorrow. xoxo

  3. Awww, such a great description of Sele's first days with his new Mommy! Ick, about all the ants! Do you guys have that ant spray stuff? I forget the brand name, but it's in a red and black bottle. I'd definitely recommend getting a bottle or two. I know they have it at Rotterdam. I always used that on the ant clans that made it into my cottage and it worked like magic. You could actually see the ants dying within seconds of being sprayed. Hope everything keeps going well for all three of you!

  4. Oh, Beth--I love reading your stories!!! This one is very sweet, yet full of humor... I can hardly wait to see some photos of little Selemani. You are making such a positive difference over there!!!

  5. I agree, an auteater would do a lot of good! I must say I got some good laughs from this post, but I'm sure its not so funny when your actually experiencing it! I'm so pround of you and want your doing! I <3 you!