At last! I have half an hour of access to the Internet!
For the past 5 weeks or so our class of volunteers have been living in the town of Muheza. We each live in a ‘homestay’ family, meaning we living in a Tanzanian home with Tanzanian parents and sisters and brothers. This is full-on immersion, folks.
Our days looks something like this:
- 6:45am Wake up, brush our teeth, maybe sweep and mop the living room and hall
- 7:20am Drink tea and eat chapati (like a thick tortilla) for breakfast
- 7:45am Walk to class. Our group of 34 was divided into 8 smaller classes for learning Kiswahili. Andrew and I walk to separate classes. He has 3 people in his class and I have 4 in mine. We are taught by native Tanzanians who speak excellent English.
- 8:00am Start Class
- 10:30am Break for Chai
- 12:30pm Break for Lunch
- 3:30pm Walk home, talk with the family, rest, ‘shower’ (which means splash water on ourselves from a bucket)
- 6:30pm Go outside to ‘help’ our host mother cook. Cooking takes hours here.
- 9:00pm Eat dinner
- 9:30pm Sleep
A couple of times a week our whole group congregates at a place called MATI and we do some technical training, and then on Sundays we don’t go to class or MATI. We just stay at home with our families, wash our clothes and hang out. How is our Swahili now, you ask? It is definitely progressing. It is a slow process though. We can speak and understand basic vocabulary and common topics, but any in depth conversation is still beyond us. We will get there though.
Above are our homestay parents, Hatibu and Fatuma. Fatuma is more commonly referred to though as ‘Mama Bonge’, which means Big Mama. She is a character- bossy, sassy, and smart. Oh, and she is also a witch doctor. That’s right. She has a hut separate from the house where she heals people using traditional arts. She let us come in and watch her one time and it was one of the strangest experiences of my life. Basically she summoned a spirit to help her cure a child of gas. There was lots of singing and belching and spitting- and we never found out if the child was actually cured or not. Anyway, we have a very interesting host family and have loved living with them.
In other very exciting news, last week we got our site announcement! Which means we found out where in Tanzania we will be living for the next two years! Drumroll please… we were assigned to a village in the Kilimanjaro region!!!
We are super excited about our site. In fact at this very moment we are in the town of Same on our site visit week. Tomorrow we will shadow another volunteer in her village and then Tuesday we will go to our own village to see our house for the first time. We will check it over and then return to Muheza to finish our training.
Until next time!