Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Picture Update

Magnus and Barracka on their way to Barrack's house. These two have become an inseparable pair, with Barracka searching for Magnus whenever he's scared or upset.

Our students eating lunch yesterday. Lunch, which sometimes isn't served, was ugali (mashed cassava) and shredded fish. The kids typically scarf down their meals and beg each other for any left over scaps.

While sorting through clothing at the other project, Megan and I attempted to make light of the situation. This is not the project we paid to participate in, but appears to be where the orphanage director wants us to spend the next 4 weeks.

Our hiking group. From left to right: Michelle, Mitch, Jake, Luke, and Jeff. We LOVED hiking with these boys and felt a great sense of camaraderie with them as we were all in friendship pairs. Check out the mud on our legs. At one point, Jeff and I were crawling on all fours up a steep, muddy slope. The chant from the others was, "Who will make it up first?!"

Megan and I at the twin waterfalls in Kilimanjaro National Park. We got close enough to feel their spray and to dip or hands into the cool water.

Megan and I at the first waterfall in Kilimanjaro National Park.

Another day, more annoyances. Things continue to be awkward at the orphanage. The orphanage director is very cold towards Megan, Magnus, Morgan, and I, while being very chummy and friendly with the three new volunteers. While playing with the kids today, a new volunteer asked Megan if she thought the orphanage director was trying to befriend the new volunteers because they're naive to the realities of the financial situation at the orphanage. Megan couldn't have agreed more. We've been put into a really bad place at the orphanage and are obviously not welcome by the orphanage director.

Morgan and Magnus met Pastor in the Village this morning to purchase the windows, cement blocks, and bags of cement for his new house. A big thank you goes out to everyone who donated me money. So far, I have spent $500 assisting Pastor pay to rebuild his house. I will have exact totals tomorrow for what was purchased. Today I spent another $370 of my own money to help pay for the windows. I'm hoping my uncle will come through and have his company (Central State Windows) donate the money for the cost of the windows. While in the Village, Pastor informed Morgan and Margnus that he would no longer be working at the orphanage. He feels frustrated by the situation there and doesn't want to spend the rest of his life fighting her over how to run the orphanage. He was unclear, however, on when he would stop working there.

While preparing for class to start, our teacher (the wonderful teacher Megan and I work with... who was the only teacher that showed up to school today) pulled Megan aside to tell her that she was very sad. She quickly left and Morgan walked into the room with the news that Pastor was leaving and that he thought our teacher might be leaving as well. After our teacher pulled both Megan and I aside later in the day to say we needed to have an important talk tomorrow, we can only assume that she's in support of Pastor and will also be leaving the orphanage.

Knowing that the two people we trusted and fully supported at the orphanage are potentially leaving the organization is really frustrating and disappointing. With 4 more weeks left at the orphanage, Megan and I are in a precarious situation. On the one hand, we don't want to support a corrupt program and continue to work in a situation where we aren't wanted or appreciated. On the other hand, we want to continue teaching our students as we've completely fallen for them and they're starting to show some improvement. We have a meeting on Friday to attend regarding our "positions at the other project." We do not want to be spending the rest of our time at the other project, but both the orphanage director and our VPGC seem to believe this is the best use of our time. We continue to be frustrated with the utter lack of support we're receiving here in Arusha and the fact that we always seem to be in trouble.
In good news, Megan and I taught today! :) Our students continue to enjoy writing in their "All About Me" books. Today they wrote about who their friends were and what they liked to do. It broke my heart when none of them cold think of something they liked to do with their friends, even when it was explained to them in Kiswahili. These kids are missing out on the pleasures of childhood. While we taught, Morgan and Magnus were able to take Onesmus, a 4 year old child, to the hospital to get a sever skin infection examined. Without their help, he never would've seen a doctor as he's a double orphan who lives with 7 siblings, including his pregnant 19 year-old sister, and the orphanage director felt medical attention wasn't necessary. He was put on two antibiotic pills and a cream. We had his head shaved and have all been using gloves when we're around him. Megan, Magnus, and I also got to do our first home visit. We stopped by Barracka's (6 years old) house to meet his mother. Barracka is the only known HIV+ child at Jane's and lives with his 22 year-old HIV+ mother. The father has never been in the picture and Mama Barracka struggles to make ends meet. She dreams of owning a salon someday, but doesn't have the means to buy all of the supplies and pay to rent a facility. Magnus brought a bag of apples, a jump rope, a box of matchbox cars, and 20,000 shillings for Mama Barracka. Both Barracka and his mother were very appreciative. Megan and I are planning on visiting Mama Barracka in a few weeks to have her braid our hair. We plan on paying her 15,000 shillings each, more than she makes in a month.


The Commins Family said...

Ok, at the risk of sounding like your mother (hi Michelle's mother!), be careful. It is clear that you've been put in an awful situation but don't lose sight of how profitable this "come help the orphans" opportunity has been for Mama Jane. I worry about your safety if she senses that you and Megan intend to file complaints that would jeopardize her future business of tricking more wonderfully intentioned people (like yourselves) to pay for similar "experiences." Mama Jane aint playing with a full deck - she hardly seems like a level headed, rational person - and I don't want her to sense that she has any reason to want to quiet you and Megan. I know you're so frustrated that you're about to explode but try to hide half of that frustration from her...if you can. I know, I worry, it just sounds like a potentially dangerous situation. You and Megan are in my thoughts and my prayers. You ARE making this world a better place - even by sorting through donations.