They come from a planet of their own; whatever their colour, whatever their nationality – they are all the same – delighting in the little responsibility entrusted them. Is ignorance bliss? Do they realise that through their overzealous wielding of power, they define the limits of their careers, not to mention their social circles?
Sambasha Primary School is a 45 minute hike uphill from Emaoi, where we live, so we leave at 6.45am to arrive by 7.30am. The kids are already there, doing their various jobs. Some sweep the yards and paths with branches of soft leaves, others water the garden and others clean the classrooms. These get really dusty as there is no glass in the windows. At about 07.50 they’re called to inspection. Any who are dirtier than the rest, whose hair isn’t shaved shortly enough or who arrive late stand to one side and get caned after everyone’s sung the national anthem, then they head for class. Sometimes they don’t get caned but have to squat down and kind of goose step to class … ideas of discipline seem quite brutal here, but then life in general is incredibly tough and only those who work really hard have a chance of getting anywhere. ‘Survival of the fittest’ often has very real meaning here.
I joined Anthony and Aurelien on a visit to Haruma Orphanage where Mak and Sam, two Mondo volunteers, are based. Not far from Arusha, Haruma has about 20 orphans ranging in age from around 3 to 20. The kids are a far cry from the heartrending images sent around the Western world in a bid for donations. The y look well-fed and have a lot of love and affection for everyone. Although there’s undoubtedly sadness and tragedy behind those smiles, it’s yet another example of how the people I’ve met in Tanzania get on with the business of each day.
02 April 2004: I awoke to the sounds of Arusha, the noisy shops and people below, and to the music blaring from reception. The rain had almost stopped and, despite still no water, I felt just fine. I had a meeting with Oliver, a retired teacher who gave me a lot of information on the behaviour of the children, teachers and general workings of schools here in Tanzania. After this talk I no longer felt so nervous and actually started looking forward to this huge challenge:)
Aurelien and John then escorted me up to Emaoi, the village where I’ll be living for the next 3 months. It really is incredibly lush and green. I can’t begin to name the plants and trees, apart from banana, flame trees and hibiscus, however I will make an effort to become better informed. The mists were hanging over the foothills and Mt Meru was invisible. Everything was dripping from the rains, cool and muggy. The village is like something out of a naive painting – dirt roads (not too muddy), high hedges hiding all but the rooftops, some modern but many masai rondavels, cows, children and proud-walking women carrying everything on their heads … This is what I expected but I couldn’t quite imagine it being for real! No streetlights, no vehicles, no satellite dishes (although Mr Thomas has an aerial, having one of the only TVs in the village).
We met Tom, a volunteer who’s been running a very popular and successful afternoon English course for adults, which Rosie and I are supposed to take over, and Mr Elias, the headmaster of the Emaoi primary school. Rosie is the second volunteer living at Mr Thomas’ and teaching at Sambasha, where I’ll be teaching. It’s nice to have someone here who already knows the ropes a bit and can explain. I then came to Mr Thomas’ house, not far away, a modern brick building with electricity and a television. The house consists of a little entrance room, a living/dining room and bedrooms. The cooking is done in an outhouse in the yard, which is one of a small complex, the others containing chickens and cows. There’s a tap in the yard, the only source of water. The shower and loo are in a separate outhouse around the side of the main building. Water for the shower is heated on the stove and then you carry it into the shower room. You “shower” by scooping the water with a tin can which has dozens of holes in the bottom – simple but effective and it was just wonderful to have a hot shower again! The loo is a, hopefully, very deep pithole – thank goodness for headtorches, as balancing half-asleep in the dark is not easy;)
The Thomas’ are very very welcoming and their two little nieces, Gwinny and Manka, make for lots of play and cheer. Food’s great, vegetables, chips, rice, a tasty lentil dish and spinach with garlic, also homegrown bananas. The tea, chai, is absolutely delicious, served very hot with lots of milk and sometimes ginger. I think things are going to be just fine:)