Friday, June 27, 2008

Human Rights

Re-evaluating our expectations of this trip has allowed Megan and I to redetermine our purpose here. We continue to be frustrated with the lack of support we're receiving and the actions that are taking place at the orphanage, but we've decided that our purpose now is to teach when we can and to document everything else. For the past two nights, when we've come home, we pull out our avocados, bananas, and oranges (bought from two of our students' older sister in the market inthe Village), cheese (imported from Holland), and peanut butter and have a tea time in our bed room as we document the events of the day. When we're at the orphanage we're respectful of the orphanage director's authority and focus all of attention on the kids. We're "free" (open and transparent) with the orphanage director about anything we do (taking Onesmos to the hospital, offerring to pay to have all of the kids tested for HIV, etc) and are giving 110% to our students. While we're working with the kids, though, we tuck in our heads the events that happen which don't settle well with us: no food being served to the kids for lunch, teachers not coming to school, a teacher hitting children in the head, etc. Our hope is to be able to appropriately advocate for these children when we arrive home.

In good news, we've been given permission, after a long discussion with the orphanage director, to have all 85 of the students at the orphanage school to be tested for HIV, TB, and Malaria and to also have a full general physical. This will cost $180 a day for each doctor and and additional $8 per child. The American doctor who will be leading the team of physicians we'll be working with believes we can get this accomplished in 1 week. We start on Monday by taking the baby class (3 and 4 year olds). Children with parents will be accompanied by at least one of their parents. Orphaned children will be accompanied by a volunteer. We're still in need $400. If you're interested in donating to this project, please e-mail or comment. Once we have all of the children tested, the plan is to work with an international orphans NGO (I forget which one, a representative came and spoke with us on Wednesday) to sign the children up for various programs that will allow them access to free or discounted medicine.

Today we missed out on school to attend a session of the Rwandan Genocide Tribunal trials being held by the UN. These trials have been taking place for the past 6 years and are held here in Arusha. Many of the court proceedings are open to the public for free. Anyone with a valid passport can come to the AICC building in Arusha and sit in a room with headphones and listen to the court case as it takes place. The trials take place in multiple languages (French, English, Swahili, etc) thus the need for headphones with translation. Today we heard the testimony of a female witness who appeared to have information about a group of Hutus who murdered 6 Tutsis and a Tutsi pastor in 1994. We only saw the cross examination of this woman as her earlier testimony was held in a closed session. For 3 hours we listened as this woman tried to defend the Hutus she knew as a professor at a college in Rwanda. From the looks of the judges and lawyers faces, as well as the tone of their voices, this woman didn't seem to be very compliant. From what we could gather, she held a great deal of information about these Hutu men, but wasn't being cooperative in sharing this incriminating information.

Moment of the day:
* On Thursday Megan and I had our students decorate paper masks. After each child had decorated their mask, they placed them over their face and played "Heads up 7 Up." They picked up on the game surprisingly well and quickly began to cheat, which is very typical of American students. The grins on their faces during the game were priceless!