Thursday, 23 June 2011

Food, glorious food

'What is the food like?' Seems to be one of the first questions people have asked me since returning. So I thought you may be interested to hear a typical days food, it is no where near as bad as I was expecting.

Breakfast - normally at the Convent.
This would normally comprise of bread (this so called bread was really just white cardboard) and butter. The bread was so bad Rhea, Leo and I decided to spend £7 on a jar of Marmite to disguise the taste, £7 is a lot of a jar of Marmite but I think the girls would agree, it was well worth it. There was tea and coffee for the people who like that sort of thing, made with powered milk. Not one person mastered how to make a cuppa without the milk going lumpy! Sometimes, very exciting times, pancakes were served - hoooooray!!

Eating at the Convent with Rhea, Leo, Abby and Judith
 Chai (tea break at school)
At Chai there was chai and freshly made fruit juice to drink. There was always a hard boiled egg each and a mundarzi (? I have no idea how to spell this word so I've spelt it phonetically). Mundarzi is like doughnuts, the Vocational class used to make them for us and to sell to the other students. We ate them dipped in sugar- very healthy! The children received bread and chai, some bought food from outside of the school grounds, sometimes this was their first meal of the day.

Lunch normally was fruit salad, much to the hate of Rhea and Leo. One day, when I had taken my malaria tablet before I went to bed the night before, I felt really sick. So sick I had to leave the Nursery for fear of being ill over a small, innocent child. I mentioned this to Matilda, the Mama who looks after us, and she insisted on getting me chips. They did the trick- honestly chips are good for you! For a few days after we had chips everyday until we decided that if I ever wanted to fit into the bridesmaid dress eating chips was not the way forward so we returned to fruit.

Dinner (At the Convent)
Dinner always had rice, meat which varied and included the skinniest chicken in the world, something we think was beef but could have been goat, fish or liver. There was a vegetable, grown by the Nuns, we mainly had delicious minty peas or cabbage and a sauce. It was all really tasty and ample food. For pudding there was often fruit or, sometimes, pancakes. We learn that the African people tend not to separate their meals so would eat the fruit or pancakes the same time as their main course. They all thought we were mad eating pancakes on their own covered in sugar. We went to one of the teacher's house a couple of times for dinner that was very similar.
Typical food, including water melon with the meal. The chip looking things is fried banana.
 Sometimes we ate out in restaurants when we were craving certain food, very similar things available as over here, Chinese, Indian, Italian. Of course when we stayed with Alison and Neville we ate like Kings, Neville is an incredible cook and would cater to our ever need, a lovely lamb dinner after discussing who my Mum's lamb roast dinner is my favourite food and even baked beans on toast when I was homesick and wanted comfort food. This earned him the title of Chef.

The children's lunch and evening meal was the same everyday. They had rice/ ugarli and beans in a sauce. Ugarli (again not sure on the spelling) is difficult to describe, it's tasteless a bit like rice, looks like really white mashed potato but is stiffer so you can pick it up and scoop the beans. The children ate in the dining hall or outside and some had to share plates and cups. I actually enjoyed ugarli and beans but couldn't eat it everyday but, compared to some children, they are very lucky to be eating three times a day.

Eating ugarli and beans with the girls (I always sat with the girls, they loved asking me about Mary Hare- the deaf school in England) I was lucky to be able to sit at one of the six tables- the other children ate sat on the floor.
I had a go at making Ugarli which was very heavy going on the old arm muscles, this pot that I'm stirring would serve approx. 240 kids. The top (this also has a matching pair of shorts which I will put a picture on in the future).... nicknamed the gecko outfit,
was kindly made for me by one of the teachers.

The School Kitchen
Now there are two important meals that need special mention. First was my good bye meal with all the volunteers. Alison and Neville took me to one of the best restaurants I've ever been. The food was cooked at our table by the most entertaining chef. It was delicious, funny and just brilliant.
Our Chef!
The second meal is the leaving meal Leo and Rhea made me. Rhea decided to bake mashed potato pie, now called the famous mashed potato pie. What is a mashed potato pie I hear you ask, well it's mashed potato with raw onions, a ton of cheese, served slighly lumpy because we couldn't find a masher with baked beans and more cheese. All served on safari paper plates and me wearing a merry Christmas paper hat as they couldn't find any other party hats in the shop. To drink we had the strongest rum in the world and limited supplies of coke. It was great and we had such a laugh- the perfect end to my time in Africa- I will never forget it.

One of my leaving dinners
Overall the food was great and I don't know how I managed not to become the size of a house. Hope that answers a few questions. Sorry about the spelling/ sentences making sense, I'm not a fan of reading back over what I've written, reminds me of writing essays at Uni! Happy Birthday Martin, much love xxxx

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


Well, I'm home and what an adventure I have had. The first week being back on  English ground I can only describe as a 'reverse culture shock', I didn't really want to talk about my time in Tanzania and wouldn't look at the pictures. However, the ultimate Hen weekend soon snapped me back into Western way of life and I'm feeling a lot more settled now.

I've decided to continue to write my blog as there is still a lot I want to say and now I can hopefully add photographs to previous posts and futute ones, I have really enjoyed writing them and hopefully everyone enjoyed reading them. I managed to write a journal everyday I was out there, something I have never done before, so the plan is just to be able to read back and write great masterpieces on here!! I bought a USB so I could transfer my photos from my laptop to the computer, it ws 8GB, the amount of photographs I took amount to 24GB, I think I might something else!!

Today I skyped Judith who is still out there, she seems very well and it was very good to talk to her again, also she had an office full of children so I could see them and sign some hello's, good to see their smiling faces again! Also found out that, against all odds (no kit, thinking Kili was the height of a ski resort with helicopter access and electricity plugs, a worm in the leg) Rhea and Leo, also named Rio- the baby gappies, MADE IT UP MT KILI, I am so proud of them, well done ladies.

SO, am going to start writing the next proper blog soon...

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Part III- Finally

Episode Three.... Sorry for the delay, as with all good cliff-hangers they keep you guessing right until the very end.
First things first... HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!!!!! Thank you for all your support this trip and always, love you lots, one week until hug time!!!!

I got up far too early for a Sunday and went to the Church which is linked to the convent where I am staying. I had arranged with a couple of the children from school to meet them, to my surprise I was by about 40 Buguruni kids all dressed in their Sunday best. They were brilliant guides showing where to go as they all sit together in one section as there is an interpreter available for them during that service (better than most churches in England!). I think the thing that struck me most is how many people attend Church here, the fact there was 40 kids from Buguruni ranging from age 7-19 was staggering when I think about how many young people attend church services in England. On a Sunday morning alone they have three services, each one having over 1,000 people attend, there are so many people have to stand outside this massive building listening to the service over a loud speaker. Can you imagine over that one morning over 3,000 people attending Church- just amazing!
The children dressed in their best clothes waiting to go to Church

I was unable to understand most of the service as it was in Swahili even though I caught bits by watching the sign language interpreter, it was very similar to the British services I have attended, readings from the Bible, a collection, time for prey and singing.... well the singing is just wonderful, very beautiful and can sometimes be quite touching. There is a choir that you often hear rehearsing in the Church grounds during the week. When they sing everyone claps and you can’t help but sway along. The service lasts for about 2 hours!! And pews (is that how you spell that word? I don’t think I’ve ever written that before in my life) are very uncomfortable. It was sweet to see some of the children who have very little get up and make a donation to the collection; however most of them had to stay seated. After the service had finished we all walked through the village back to school where we got the skipping ropes out and did lots of skipping games. I then headed back to Alison’s and Neville’s for a delicious dinner.

'The Boys' all in their school uniform waiting for the service to begin

On another note... this week we have been asking the children’s what clothes and essentials they had as we had all noticed that some of the children’s clothes are very dirty or broken. We were mainly concentrating on school uniform, shoes, a set of ‘home clothes’ and bits like washing powder, soap, toothbrush etc. What we found was very distressing and I think we all found it very difficult to see the children with so little. Some had one pair of pants/knickers, others had one set of clothes all together, one girl had one school shirt that only had one button, they had to borrow each other’s shoes, and share plates at meal times. It was difficult to see the hardship the children face. The condition of the clothes was very poor, there was over 50 children who had no washing powder and 20 children who didn’t own a toothbrush. The most frustrating thing was that the Ayahs (Care Staff) had a big bag of washing powder. We have now given every child who needed it washing powder and a toothbrush and are having a meeting tomorrow with the Ayahs and Head Mistress to find out why and how it has got to this state. Judith and I are going to go on a giant trip to the market to buy pants, flip-flops, soap... when I get home I might do a pants appeal so if you are buying pants and it is buy one get one free think of the children at Buguruni... I think the ‘Pants Plea’ has a certain ring. I have found this week quite difficult because of this, all I want to do is scoop up the children- little and big, give them a giant hug, a pair of pants, a bar of soap and look after them they way they deserve. Hopefully this is the low point of this issue and now it has been highlighted the only way is up.

A week today I’ll be in England.... gosh, what a mixed bags of feelings that thought is producing! Sorry I don't think this is the best post in the world and I think the last bit about the children's clothes is probably very muddled but I'm just haven't got the flow tonight..... writers block!!  xxxx

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

A rather exciting weekend- Part II

If you haven't read A rather exciting weekend- Part I, go one post below.

Saturday = Village Museum and Mwananyamala

Playing on a bike at the Village Museum

Saturday morning woke up nice and early and off we all set to see the Village Museum. We now includes Judith who we are now calling General Juju, Leo, Rhea and Abby who arrived last week. The Village Museum is set up to show all the different types of housing that can be found across Tanzania. You can walk around the site wandering in and out of huts, mud shelters, cattle sheds and sacrifice huts. Each building had a board outside saying which region the house was from, the name of the tribe who dwelled in them and some other bits of information. Inside there were examples of cooking pots, beds, farming equipment, a wooden bike, flip-flops (again made from wood) and general household goods. It was interesting seeing how the lives must differ across the country, some living under a straw roof with no walls; other living in mud houses that including an upstairs! We all found it a bit of an insight to what homes and lives the Buguruni children could have come from.
Selling rice at Mwananyamala Market
Next stop Mwananyamala- this word is IMPOSSIBLE to say and I think the Tanzanian’s made it up just to laugh at us trying to say it. Tanzanear (the charity) tend to use one taxi driver to pick people up from the airport etc, he is great, his name is Alex he speaks very good English and does a hilarious impression of the American accent. Alex suggested we go to Mwananyamala which is his local market as it would give us a real taste of African life; he said it was very unusual to see any white people there at all. The atmosphere was amazing; buzzing with stall holders selling everything you could imagine, fruit, fish, clothes, household bits, rice- the rice is not in containers it is just piled high on the tables. Colours are bright, people are smiley and the food cooking smells delicious. We mainly went to buy Kangas, a very typical piece of women’s clothing in Tanzania. It consists of a piece of fabric, brightly coloured and patterned- they use it mainly as a wrap around skirt, imagine a sarong, but I have seen them used as baby carriers, head scarves, mats, umbrellas, table cloths, dresses... in fact we found a book called 101 things you can do with a kanga- my next purchase! What makes them really nice is that across the bottom there is a Swahili proverb, good job we had Alex however as some of them can be quite rude so the poor man had to stand and watch us shop saying –good or bad to the saying, any man’s worse nightmare! I loved it there and would happily suggest it to anyone.

Three of the boys having fun with chalk
Right, episode three tomorrow night.... Sunday, a day a Church! More exciting than it sounds, honestly. Sorry this is so brief, time goes quickly here, it is already 11pm- time for lala (sleep). xxxxxxxx

Monday, 16 May 2011

A rather exciting weekend

Technically the above statement is a lie as I am combining two weekends into one but the title ‘An exciting Friday, Saturday and Sunday but from different weekends’ does not have quite the same ring to it.
Friday = ZANZIBAR.

Zanzibar is a small island just off the coast of Dar that it famous for its beaches and history particularly the slave trade.  Due to time running out quicker than my emergency supply of Percy Pigs it was suggested by the wise Judith and Alison that I go on a day trip. So Friday morning I got up nice and early and went to Dar domestic flights airport- it is tiny. The plane, it turned out was also tiny. Only about 14 people could fit in, you couldn’t stand up straight and it was kept in the air by a propeller- I thought these type of planes were extinct. The plane journey was amazing, as it doesn’t fly very high you can see everything, I’ve never been in a plane like it. I was picked up at the airport and taken to a Spice farm; Zanzibar is also famous for its spices. I loved the tour, we walked around the farm smelly, tasting, trying different spices including the lipstick plant which you crack open the pod, crush the seeds on the inside then, bobs your uncle- lipstick! On the walk round I was made all sorts of accessories including a frog necklace, a bracelet, ring, a little cup to hold all the different spices, they were all made from leaves and twigs- really cool. Did you know that cinnamon is the bark of the same tree that roots are used in ‘nose unblockers’ such as vix and pineapples grow in the ground like a bush? At the end of the tour I was met by a man holding a handbag and crown, again made from leaves, this man then went on to climb a palm tree and bring down two fresh coconuts which were quickly eaten. To finish the tour I was invited to try all different fruits that we had seen around the tour. The man serving me was great- spoke little English but was still hilarious, as I was the only person in the tour group some of the locals joined us and the atmosphere was brilliant. They were typical Africans- warm, friendly and loved dancing. After pushing the car out of the mud my guide and I set off to Stone Town, I suppose the capital town of Zanzibar.

Meeting the locals on my Spice Tour
Stone town is a maze of narrow streets weaving in and out of tall buildings built by the Arabs and the Indians many moons ago. The streets have no name and seemingly no direction so if you get lost you would really get lost! The buildings were probably once very grand and beautiful but now they are old and crumbling which I find very appealing. After walking through a bustling market I was shown to the Slave Chambers. Slaves were bought over from Mainland Tanzania and sold in Stone Town, the chambers were appalling, probably the size of a medium bedroom, not high enough to stand up in and would flood twice a day with high tide. There were no toilets and three tiny air slots, in the two rooms were kept up to 75 women and children and 60 men in the second room. They were kept in the chambers for three days with no food or water, waiting for market. On market day they were walked out and tied to the whipping tree- this is exactly what it you would expect from the name. Each person, including the children, were whipped to see how strong they were therefore how much the buyers would pay. The Slave Trade was abolished by Dr Liverstone who built a Church were the market and tree used to be.  The church is still there today and inside is a circle on the floor marking where the tree once stood.

A reminder of the slave trade, the chains are the original ones that were worn

Our next stop was the Beit El-Ajaib also known as the House of Wonders. On the way we passed the house where Freddie Mercury was born- it was very disappointing, just a normal Stone Town House, I don’t know what I was expecting really. Well the House of Wonders is hilarious- it is so called because it was the tallest house in East Tanzania when it was built, had electricity and a lift- that worked for a mere two weeks! It is now a museum about Tanzanian life and culture; it also has some great views over the rooftops. As we walked to the final destination- to look back over the crystal blue sea towards the mainland we were stopped by a man saying he was the last Sultan of Zanzibar. He invited me to his house which I politely declined; we went to the beauty spot to only be found by him again. After 10 minutes of life stories in broken English he said that he would buy me an ice-cream, however he needed some money! Well at least I can say I have spoken to the last Sultan of Zanzibar who was a slightly mad, charming old man with an addiction to ice cream! It was time to return to the airport, I bought myself an ice cream as he had put the idea in my head. However, when I open it I discovered it had chocolate on the top (remember  I’m not eating chocolate) so I had to eat the thing upside down making a complete mess and throw the bottom (or top) half away, the small child sat opposite watched me with great fascination. Rather excitingly on the way back the pilot asked if anyone wanted to sit at the front of the plane with him- I was the only one who volunteered- this may not be true but everyone else was toooooo slow- muhahahaha! It was great seeing all the cockpit bits and looking out the front window during landing. What a perfect day!

Buguruni School from the sky! Can even see the boys playing football
This might have to be a To Be Continued... post as it has taken me a lot longer to write than I expected and I need to write up some stuff from last week’s English Club. I will continue with my weekend tomorrow... this is better than Eastenders!! Love xxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Good News

Just a quick one... I mentioned to Judith about the mossie nets and she bought it up with the Tanzanear committee and we are buying them this week!!! Brilliant! I will defo be doing a big fund raiser when I get back to the UK as there are often times when things appear that Tanzanear can't plan for and therefore budget. Kiri, your post made me cry about Finn offering his pocket money, honestly it is emotional enough without your help!!! Please read this to Finn - Hi Finn, thank you for your offer of your pocket money, all the children here will feel very special that they have such a kind friend in England, thank you, and say hello to Tilly for me!

Also apparently there were big problems with the website blogger last week so if your comments didn't post that is why. Hopefully it will be ok now, I'm thinking Mum will probably check!! I will write a proper update tomorrow, it's 10.15 here so past my bed time!! xxxx

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Last night I slept at school!! I was a little nervous all of yesterday, despite being used to sleeping at a boarding school with my old job this felt different. We normally leave around 6 after playing games with the children, yesterday we were doing the Tanzanian version of hopscotch which Mama Hamish was very good at! Once the rest of the ‘crew’ left I took my bag of clothes and pillow up to the room where I would be sleeping. The boarding facilities are split into four; there is a three storey building with the younger boys on the ground floor, younger girls in the middle and older girls at the top. The older boys sleep in a separate building next door. Each room has 20 bunk beds in so up to 40 children can sleep in their but not all the dorms are full. Each bed has a locker and at the end of the big bedroom is two separate rooms, firstly a storage room for all the children’s suitcases, secondly the bathroom which has three showers, three toilets and some sinks.

Eating dinner of rice and beans with the girls

I was sleeping on the top floor with the older girls, the Ayah (Care Staff) had kindly made up my bed and given me a new mossie net which I was pleased about as the nets over the windows are broken so there are a lot of mossie but felt bad that they were using it for me, hopefully they will now give it to one of the girls. The girls made me feel very welcome and took me under their wings in showing me their routine. At 6.45 we had dinner which is cooked outside over charcoal and is always rice/ugali and beans. It is served out of giant pits by a couple of the boys. I was welcomed onto the table I always sit at when I eat with the children and I am lucky to get a seat as there is only four tables in the room- another thing on the Tanzanear Wish List to buy. After dinner I was shown were to wash up which was outside using a tap, everyone swills their own bowl.
With dinner over I was shown where to have a shower, I showered in the Ayahs bathroom as the girl’s room is open showers and I’m sure none of them want the shock of my very white tummy!! As the pump is broken all the children have to carry buckets of water to their bathrooms and use them. I carried mine up the three flights of stairs-not balanced on my head as many of them can do- I don’t know how they do it! I showered with a bucket and old butter pot but it did the job. Just as I was getting dressed the power cut out and we had no electricity for the rest of the night!!

Showering finished a lot of the children were outside just talking a relaxing- bearing in mind it is pitch black!! They all thought my skin was amazing as it ‘glowed’ and it was easy to see me signing. At 9pm the children went into their room brushed their teeth and started climbing into bed. Their mossie nets were tucked in all using the phone light of the Ayah in charge of that dorm. Some of the nets are so holey I couldn’t believe they bothered, I suppose something is better than nothing- another thing to be added to the wish list! I had to hug all the girls good night then I was tucked in. As it had been raining the temperature was bearable without the fans (some of the dorms don’t even have fans). I had a disturbed sleep but I think it was mainly because I had a terrible headache and forgot to bring tablets.
Waiting to get water out of the well for a shower. Cold, raining and the kids are wearing very little

We were woken up at 4.45am, got up and made the beds, then the long queue for the water started again- ready for the morning showers. The tap that was supplying the water had broken so we had to use the well with one person using bucket and string to bring the water up. Just to paint the picture, it is still dark, there is about 60 children queuing for water and it starts to rain. I helped the little ones carry their buckets as they are almost as big as them. Once showers were done, teeth were brushed, chores started, sweeping the floor, washing the classrooms and dormitories floors, ironing their school uniform and work around the sight. Some of the older ones help the little ones get dressed. At 7am teachers and day students start to arrive ready for the start of school at 7.30am. I can believe how much they do before 7am, all so happily (apart from a few scraps from the little ones over that’s my bucket-no its not it is mine!) I very much enjoyed staying over despite having little sleep and felt I understand the workings of the school much better. You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned breakfast, that is because they didn’t have any. Normally they have a cup of chai (sugary tea) for breakfast – no food but today they had run out of charcoal. They didn’t have any food or a hot drink until 10am; I found some of things that I saw over night quite sad and have spoken to Judith about ways we could improve the care.

Right, so a huge THANK You for the offer of games, I am really keen to follow this up and am currently talking to Judith about the best way to do this, unfortunately there isn’t really a great postal service here, I think there is one central post office that you go to, no delivery so you have to know something is coming also a lot of stuff goes missing. I will get back to you all about the best ways to get stuff over here. Also Miss Kiri I can speak to the committee about your donation because we can specify where you would like it spent any requests? Thank you so much for raising that much. Sorry I haven’t been blogging, again my internet is broken- grrrrrrr!!!! 
Rod and Martin, lovely to hear from you two in Australia, I can just imagine you two sat around talking about old times, I'm glad that you are enjoying the blog. I hope Harry has enjoyed his work experience, sounds great, Rod, that is so good Dad is coming over in September, might have to do some nagging to see if I can fir in his suitcase. Tommy and Faye - the comedy stories keep coming!! Dad- glad the Easter egg is safe thanks for the update, Hello Mum, yeah I do mean jigsaws sorry! Hello Ruth and other Knights of Norwood, weather is hot and rainy at the moment. Hello Lau, Baby Erin must be getting big now. Loving all the comments today thanks, love you all and missing everyone this week. xxxxxxxxxxx ps on the salmon licence yes please Dad.