Friday, July 17, 2009

Habari Gani

Hello all!

Shortly after the group arrived at Kilimanjaro airport, we were living it up at Club Afriko. First we indulged in an authentic Tanzanian meal of kuku, ugali and sukumawiki - chicken, 'stiff grits', and greens. Sukumawiki, greens, literally translates to "to push the week." Then we enjoyed the jazz, funk, reggae, hip hop, bongo flava, and spoken word of Mama C & Company. Mama C is the matriarch of the United African Alliance Community Center ( which happens to be where we are today, learning about the children's home and all of the center's initiatives to empower the community. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. . .

When we first arrived in the village of Maji ya Chai, our students expanded their knowledge about local customs and cultural traditions in their new home. During this time the students befriended villagers and were invited to join some of them in a soccer match that afternoon. A few students played in the soccer game while others conversed with village youth on the sidelines. Some students were surprised and overwhelmed by the welcoming and friendly nature of Maji ya Chai villagers.

On our second day in the village, the group was put to the test with a full first day of community service. They worked diligently-- with hoes, pickaxes and shovels on rocky terrain, digging a trench in order to lay a new piping system which will deliver clean water to parts of the village. The following day we continued our work digging as well as laying several kilometers of hefty pipes. Despite the hard work, spirits were high!

Later that night the students were given a brief introduction and lesson on their respective On Assignment projects (Photography and People and Cultures) before their immersion into the Maji ya Chai homes as part of day-long homestays.

During the 4th and 5th day of homestays, students worked alongside Maji ya Chai residents on some of their typical daily activities, including such chores as collecting water, harvesting corn, shoveling cow manure, and making and laying bricks.

We've also learned how to make beaded necklaces and bracelets, will be visiting a snake farm this morning, and making our own batik artwork later this afternoon! Time is flying, but we're having a great time.

Kwa Herini,
Zik, Hope and Mike (with help from Alex!)