Friday, June 13, 2008

Home and School

Due to some poor financial situations (which included a lack of funding for Pastor to feed us appropriately), Megan and I have been moved out of Pastor's home and into a hostel in Arusha. We'll be spending the rest of our 6 weeks in this hostel with other volunteers in the area. We owe a HUGE amount of thanks to Megan's dad, Don, and my father in-law, Bob, for making the appropriate calls in the U.S.

Moving out of Pastor's house was difficult because the money situation was not his fault and we didn't want him to think we didn't enjoy living with him and his family. We payed him in Tanzanian shillings for the food he paid out of pocket to feed us (food that should've been paid for by our volunteer company). Everyone in his family cried when we left, including his 13 year old niece (a double orphan), H., and his 6 year old daughter, P. Of course, Megan and I cried as well. It's hard leaving such a warm, loving environment when you know the people who cared most about you weren't being treated fairly. We informed the family that we'd be back to see them on Monday, but we feel like our comment was lost in translation.

Little does Pastor know, however, that we've found our purpose in the Village. Megan and I, as well as the two other volunteers in our village, Magnus and Morgan, have decided that we have the money and man power to finish building Pastor's new house. We'll be surprising Pastor with this news on Monday when we hope to start the project. We're expecting the project to take about 1 month to complete. We plan on using $500 of our donation money to go towards this project. We chose this as our pet project as Pastor has given so much to the community and doesn't have enough to provide appropriately for his own family. He is a modern Masaai man who has an incredible heart and looks out for everyone. This is the best way we can thank him.

Although we're going to be spending a great deal of time working on Pastor's new house, I am still focusing my attention on teaching at the village school. I've been working primarily with the older students, approximately first grade. Another volunteer and I gave them a test today to determine where their abilities lie in English and math. I'll be grading the first half of the test this weekend and finishing the test on Monday. The plan is to then break the class (about 15 students) into two groups according to their abilities and teach them accordingly. I've already created basic consonant-vowel-consonant spelling lists and lesson plans to teach next week. I'm thinking we'll need to go back even further, however, with some students and focus on letter identification.

I'm quickly falling for my students. I now know all of their names and am beginning to distinguish their unique personalities. Musa Luca is shy and reserved, most likely because he's dealing with the stress of watching his father die a slow, painful death of skin cancer and AIDS. Sophia is sassy and bossy. Freddy is very smart and quick to learn. Winniefreida comes from a family of 10, with two mothers and one father (traditional Masaai men have multiple wives), and she always comes to school with a bright smile on her face and incredible spunk. Clinton is constantly covered in dust and dirt, yet smiles shyly when I complement his work with a cheerful "inzuri sane!" (very good!). Jackson always has a huge grin on his face and leaves school by shouting, "I love you Teacher Michelle!" It's only been a week and I'm completely head over heels for this class. I'm positive part of my heart will be placed in the palms of each of these kids when I leave in 6 weeks.

Need requests:
* Any financial donations to assist in building Pastor's house would be appreciated. We have enough for the basics (cement blocks, wood beams for the ceiling, tin for the roof, windows, doors, etc), but do not have enough to purchase enough beds and shelving units for inside the home. Pastor lives with his wife, his 6 year old daughter, his orphaned neices (W.- 19 and H.- 13), and his mother. He also frequently houses volunteers and other people in need of a warm place to stay. Please e-mail or comment if you'd like to donate money to go towards Pastor's home building.
* $500 a year sponsorship for either P. or H. in order to attend a boarding school. Neither girl is receiving a quality education and both are desperate to learn and enjoy school. Please e-mail or comment if you're interested.

PS: Pictures aren't loading at this computer. I'll try a different internet cafe this weekend.