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.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Library

Before recently the library was an unopened room, covered in dust with the books piled high in unorganised columns. The four volunteers that were here before I arrived, under the guidance of Guy and Judi (the ‘geriatric’ gappies that were here for my first month, Guy is the ex-financial director of Mary Hare and Judi is his lovely wife and ex-CEO of the British Dyslexia Association) sorted out the library. They did an excellent job of cleaning, categorising the books, putting posters on the walls and making the library much more accessible.

They put into place a timetable so that every class has an allotted period of time to come and use the books and other resources available. It has been incredibly popular with the children who run to get there, the teachers trailing behind. At the moment there is always one of the volunteers in the library with them but ultimately we would like the teachers to remember to bring their class along, currently, with most of them we have to go and  remind them. Time in the library is a great opportunity to improve my sign language as the smaller children point at the pictures then show you the sign. Some of the older children enjoy practicing their speech by reading to you out loud, in both Swahili and English. I love being in there witnessing the children so keen to learn or just look at the books. When it first opened, apparently some of the children didn’t really know how to even handle a book, how to turn the pages without bending them or even which side was the front of the book.

Over the holidays, when there was no school, we would go in and the first thing the children would ask us was if we could open the library. I couldn’t believe it; you would never see children in England ASKING to go to the library! We also used the room as a base to do other activities including colouring and making puzzles, now the walls are covered in pictures the children have drawn or coloured. We have one puzzle, which has a few pieces missing but they will sit for ages trying to complete it, some of them didn’t even know what to do with the tiny pieces, they must not have seen a puzzle before. I love being in the library, I love watching one child sit and read a book for 20 minutes without looking up, I love hearing the children try to learn how to say new words and  I especially love how much they love being there!! Overall a lot of love!

Thank you all for the offer of Easter Eggs, I love the thought of Dad, Mum and Becky all hiding Easter eggs from each other. Alisa I’m glad you had such a lovely break and the weather stayed good for everyone, and thank you for your comment Marlene, I’m glad you and Sarah are enjoying reading it. A MASSIVE CONGRATULATIONS to Dave and Mel who are engaged, I am over the moon and can’t wait to see you both. xxxx

Monday, 25 April 2011

A Chocolateless Easter

Yes that’s right chocolate fans I have still not eaten any chocolate, that is 50 days without a single lick, only 33 days to go! I even asked Mum to get me an egg as that type of chocolate is extra delicious- of course she has already got me one, hooray for Mum. Dad and Becky I hope you are going to live up to Mum’s standard, anyhoo enough about that I could waffle about chocolate for hours...

So to celebrate Easter with the children we decided to have two days of ‘Eastery’ activities. As you may remember the school is 50/50 Muslim and Christian but all the children joined in regardless of faith. On the first day we had a crafty day as it was raining. We printed off colouring pictures, dot-to-dots and ‘hunt the egg’ pictures, the kids really love colouring and their fine motor skills are getting better and better. They will sit and do crafts for hours quite contently, including the older boys, I love seeing them all working together despite sex and age; it really is a family atmosphere. The second activity didn’t quite go to plan, the original thought was to get every single child to make a paper cone which was personalised with their drawings. We wanted to then take them away and fill them with sweets to then give out. However, the kids had another idea... in true Hadley style (I realise this is personal reference but it is a running joke in our family that Hadley’s have to put things on their heads, it seems to be an instinct we all have)... the children put the cones on their heads to make rather good hats. Despite the original plan being ruined it was very amusing to sea of multi-coloured pointy hats walking around the school on children aged between 4-20! Even the deputy head put one on.

Today we prepared a hunt. We had some tiny toy chicks and rabbits (you know the bright yellow things that come out at Easter and no-one really knows what to do with them.) Well, we stapled their feet to a piece of paper with a number written on. We then hid them all around the school; we then gave the children a piece of paper with the numbers listed on it. The kids then headed off hunting the rabbits/chicks out: some ran, some worked together, some had no idea what was going on, some were very secretive, some watched then followed the group before, some just seemed to like ticking the paper so overall a great success. I loved it and so did the children, they were hunting for probably about 2 hours in total and felt very proud when they finished. We then gave out a CUP full of sweets – as the cones were now locked away in the wardrobe of head gear, the sweets were kindly donated by Judith’s friend Maryann. We then quickly left leaving the staff with a group of hyperactive children who rarely get sugar!

Now you may be wondering who ‘we’ is. Well we have a bit of a crew out here, firstly there is Judith aka Mama G&T/Juju/Hamish, she is a Governor of Mary Hare, where I used to work, and is here for 5 months embedding the use of hearing aids amongst a million other jobs. Alison aka Mama Eddie/ Lola and Neville aka Chef, are ex-pats who live here and closely work with the school. They are the kind people who open their house to us whenever needed. Now there are two new arrivals, Leo and Rhea aka Rio, they are baby gappies who are here for three months volunteering on their gap year. They are comedy value and do anything I ask - so I love them –lots! In fact I love all the crew out here.

Thank you to Liz from the Willow Trust for her support. I hear from The Parents that a lot of the ‘Halmore’ friends are following the blog, I hope you all enjoy reading it and Jambo (Hello) to you all. Kate and Mary I cannot wait to meet Ruby, Becky said she is just adorable, also Vez and Mez congratulations on the wedding dates! Hope the other two of Chaysica had fun at Jessi and Tim’s hope you had a glass for me, well I mean a bottle. Much love xxxx

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Art Attack

We have just finished the school holidays, which, at Buguruni, is for two weeks. However, there are still around 50 children who stay at the school; this is for several reasons including the children having no home to go to as they are orphans, their homes are too far away, their families are too poor to have them home or they are not wanted at home.  I found this quite sad but what made it even worse is that some of the children who do go home don’t want to as they cannot communicate with their families and feel totally isolated. For them Buguruni is their home and their family.

Of course, you can’t stay sad about stuff for long around here as the children soon put a smile back on your face. On the Monday an artist came to the school to create a project with the children who were left here. (This was arranged by Mama Alison and was a great success!) Miguel, the artist, firstly asked the children to draw some pictures of things that reminded them of Dar es Salaam or the school. It was great we had pictures ranging from planes to giraffes, houses to fruit, fish to people. I was extra pleased with the children’s drawing as I had to act as the interpreter and I was very worried that my signing skills were so bad they would all end up drawing something totally random! He then picked the 12 best and the children took it in turns to paint the pictures on the big canvas. Whilst they were waiting they were able to draw more pictures which they seemed to be content with doing for hours. Maybe it shows how rarely they get to draw and colour.

The end product was brightly coloured, interesting and overall brilliant. The kids were really proud as was Miguel. We are hopefully going to hang it in the dining hall which at the moment has nothing on the walls at all. I gave out blue tac to the children who wanted to stick their pencil drawings by their beds. After tiding up two of the girls were desperate to show me their beds with the new addition of the pictures. Honestly, it is the first time I got teary eyed in front of the kids. I found it incredibly touching that they were so proud of a simple drawing. The children sleep in dorms of 40 in bunk beds, each bed has a locker next to it, inside the locker is ALL their belongings including clothes. All the beds are the same; all the lockers are the same. They don’t have little things by their beds like a toy, a photograph or a poster, nothing to show their individuality, their personality. Now they have a small picture that they drew stuck in their area, what a little thing that makes a big difference. Even the boys had stuck theirs up on the wall. It is a shame I can’t put pictures up to show what I am trying to explain in a very long winded way!!

Alisa, I am definitely going to ask my Dad to write his own blog, I think it would be awesome, we could get a whole family one going, Hadley’s what do you think? The tan is getting there, don’t worry fellow bridesmaids you won’t have to be wearing white t-shirts underneath, Jessi I didn’t ask the nuns about the whole topless bathing, they have got such funny senses of humours I reckon they would probably say yes! And no Bec I am not dressing as a Nun- do you know how hot it is here? Further sightings of the monkey, he seems to be quite a friendly chap. Love to you all, by the way I’m over half way through. xxxxxxx

Monday, 11 April 2011

International School of Tanzania (IST)

Every Monday IST kindly open their doors to 15 Buguruni children. The International School sends their school bus to pick us up so we arrive just in time for lunch. The children from the two different schools mix together learning sign language and debating which football team is the best- honestly football is the universal language of the world. After lunch all the children do a different activity, we have made frog cards, Russian dolls out of paper, played football and sports, read stories then made monkey masks based on the naughty monkey character.

A very proud young lady with her monkey mask
I very much enjoy watching the children mixing with hearing children but it makes me realise what little our children have or experience. Their fine motor skills are very poor which is evident in their ability to use scissors or fold along lines, I suppose it is because they do not have access to such facilities at Buguruni. Another thing I noticed is that they take great care in their colouring, they take pride in their work and I suppose it is linked to the opportunity to make things rather than sit and copy from of the board which is the main method of teaching. Anne, the teacher who runs the afternoon, is fabulous, very welcoming. This is the only time the kids have an opportunity to leave the school site, unless it is to go into the village just outside the gates. I suppose sometimes it is the little things that we take for granted that mean a lot to some of the children.

At IST school, a different world compared to Buguruni, Mama Hamish and Mama Eddie on cutting duty
On a totally different note but I found it very exciting, today on the balcony in the convent, just after eating my breakfast, there was a monkey –A MONKEY! (I had just finished eating my breakfast not the monkey). Very sweet, no I didn’t try and hug it, he was sitting for ages watching us, watching him, watching us. When he finally plunked up the courage to come look at us closer he got distracted at the half way point by a pot plant which was much more interesting so he sat contently eating it.

Mel and Dave, I forgot to write in my last post Congratulations on your new house, such wonderful news, can’t wait to see it and you two of course. Does this mean we are getting a kitten or a puppy? Is this argument still raging? Lee, glad the boys are loving the cinema room- pat on your back for that one. Alison, saw chef on Sunday after finishing the biggest ice cream! Hello (G’day) to all the Hadley’s in Oz, and I have awful tan lines, it looks like I am wearing a white t-shirt, any volunteers to help with some shoulder self-tanning before bridesmaid duties?! xxxx

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The journey to School

To get to and from school we have to walk through a village which I love, it always makes me smile no matter how early it is in the morning. I’m going to do my best to describe the bits of the walk without the help of pictures... (I also know that is a rubbish heading but I can't think of a better one)
We start by walking up a main-ish road, one thing I have noticed all round Africa is that they are very proud of their environment, I have never seen people brushing dirt before but they do. They clear it of leaves and rubbish so their roads and in front of their homes always looks reasonably tidy; they appear to do this as a community al taking ownership for the place they live, something I feel we don’t have in England. (For example, outside The Flat in Newbury there were two trolleys that some drunken had pushed from Sainsbury’s , they were there for about a week before Jo, Canada and I decided to push they back- then we looked liked the drunken).

The village is full of little shops that look like houses with no front just a big door. You can barely see what is in there as it is so dark and crammed full of stuff. Protecting the front is a metal grid and they have a little door which they pass stuff to you. I think you can buy almost anything at some point, from fresh fruit to flip flop, rice to sweets.  It took me quite a while to pluck up the courage and go and buy something but I needed crisps so craving for western food drove me to it. They were very helpful and I don’t know what I was worried about. On that note I TRIED CHAI! I would now rename is as sugar water; I swear it was just a cup of sugar with some warm water. However, I drank the whole thing and would drink it again if I didn’t care about my teeth.

Everyone tends to do everything outside, women cook and wash, children play, men chat or play chess, it is very much a community feeling. The children always greet us, normally practicing their English but saying ‘Good Morning’ in a very posh accent. I don’t have the heart to tell them it’s actually evening. The really little ones find us fascinating, they can spot us from a mile off and come running full pelt towards us yelling “Mzungu” at the top of their voices. Mzungu means white person or traveller, the children want to touch our skin or shake our hands, they are very sweet and funny. This one girl sounds like a fire alarm, another little boy can’t be any older than 1 or so, I don’t think he can even speak, but he still goes “MM-mmm-goo”- I definitely think it’s one of their first words. I can’t believe the colour of my skin can bring so much joy to these kids; sometimes they are ready for us because they know roughly what time we walk through.

There are one group of ladies who we always stop to talk to. They have two little boys with them; the youngest, Oman, must think we are aliens. When I first got here he wouldn’t even look at us, waddling away if we came near, now he is holding a finger. The ladies are very welcoming and know our names.  Thank you for your messages, it is a shame Faye didn’t share her embarrassing story with you all, it was hilarious! Missing vegetables Jules including lettuce but eating better then I thought.. food maybe could be my next blog, by the way I have given up chocolate for the three months. Good to hear from you all, sorry I can't write a personal comment to you all but I cannot stress how nice it is knowing you are all interested in hearing my ramblings xxxxx

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Buguruni school

I have given up with photos for this post I am afraid, it took half and hour to try and upload two and it still didn't work, so after resisting the urge to throw my dongle out the window I thought I would just write a little bit and hope for more luck next time.
Buguruni School for the deaf is the only free school in Tanzania for deaf children and teenagers. There are about 240 children (boys and girls), approx. 150 boarders, with their ages ranging from 5 to 20. As some children start school later in their lives which may be because their parents didn't know about the school or they had to work on the farm for example, some classes will have kids aged 8 mixed with kids aged 11 - it looks very strange as you can imagine. All the children are deaf and use sign language as their main method of communication, late last year the majority of children got fitted with hearing aids, Judith (Mama Hamish) who is on the committee for the charity Tanzanear, is here to embed the use of hearings aids for both the children and teachers. They are slowly getting used to them and most seem to be very happy with wearing them.
A typical day starts off with chores then assembly, the do some 'exercises' I say this lightly as I feel it is far too hot to do any type of movement and the children seem to agree. They then go into their classrooms and lessons begin. At 10 it is chai (tea) break, the children get a cup of chai, which looks like very milky tea, I have yet to be brave enough to try it as I don't drink tea at home but I will give it a taste before I leave. They also get a bread roll, which is for the boarders the first bit of food they have eaten that day. (This is something that concerns us and we are trying to see if this is common in Tanzania)
Back to lessons with the younger children finishing earlier. Lunch is at 2pm which is normally ugli (not sure on spelling) or rice with beans, another cup of chai. The older children go back to school and finish at four. They currently do nothing after school apart from a Tuesday when the boys always play a big football match. I am hoping to work with the staff to change this and start a routine that they will hopefully enjoy doing and continue once we have gone. I have spent this first month trying to get to know the care staff, learn the routine and see what sort of the things the children enjoy doing. Of course I have been playing with the children too, stuck in the mud was exhausting in the African sun. I have learnt that change is difficult here and it took me a while to stop feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead and start to feel excited, even if I achieve something as simple as the skipping ropes being bought out once a week I will be happy. They are currently in a box locked away as everyone seems to be nervous of using them just in case they get broken and they won't be able to afford new ones. Mission accepted.....

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Nights with Nuns

As many of you know my home for the three months is a convent (much to the relief of Dad I think!). The Sisters are lovely, they run a small B&B to keep money coming in but we also get evening dinner if we want. The grounds are very peaceful and I feel safe here. The nuns try to help me speak Swahili, including 'Lala Salama' Soph, which I was able to shock them with my previous knowledge, for the majority non-Swahili speakers lala salama means (I think) sleep well, I know lala is definitely sleep. I have quickly learnt that Swahili is not my hidden talent in life.. the search continues.

The door at the end is my bedroom door, I am on the first floor
The rooms are nice with an en-suite bathroom, the shower works and has the luxury of two temperature settings- cold and freezing cold; however, most of the time, a cold shower is just what the doctor ordered. Im my room there is two beds, one I use as a clothes holder, a wardrobe, desk, chair and a cushioned chair (I appreciate that a cushioned chair does not really describe anything for you but I honestly can't think of anything to call it.) Most importantly there is a fan, which I have called Fantastic (hahahaha what a pun) I have never loved a piece of electronic equipment so much and another time I will tell you the tale of The Day I Almost Broke Fantastic.(Alright, I know, simple things..)

My room including Fantastic on the right
 At night I sleep under a mossie net as the little beasties seem to love the taste of me, despite this my feet are still covered in bites. I quite like it as it feels like camping.

At the weekends I have been kindly welcomed into the home of Neville, Alison and their son Eddie, who I have not yet met as he is at boarding school. Judith, a volunteer here for five months, met Neville and Alison last year and they now both help out around Buguruni School. I don't go every weekend as I like to see what happens at the school and spend some time with the children, however it is a tiny peace of heaven in Dar es Salaam.There is air conditioning, home-made fun, outings, a swimming pool, kayaking opportunities, a washing machine (which I can wash my pants in! The nuns do your washing for you apart from smalls!) and most important great company. We sometimes go to the place below to go kayaking or to swim in the sea and I was intrigued to hear that the factory you can see on the hill inspired Willy Wonka's factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

The Chocolate Factory, which actually makes cement - how disappointing!
Alisa, I cannot tell you how much I laughed at your description of waiting to hear if I was alive or not, and Faye I would have guessed you would have been in the tears in the eyes camp! Thank you Mart for reading the posts to Rod, I hope you all find them interesting. Miss Kiri, the bits you sent over have bought much joy to the kids, they are a lot quieter then the deaf children I have met in England but when playing with the parachute there were squeals of joy and laughter. I will try and get a video, I am slowly taking stuff in to do with them as I'm here for a while so more photos will follow.

The children playing with the parachute Kiri-Lynn and the workers at Coles Diner donated.
That's all folks as I have already written this twice as my laptop ran out of battery. Thank you for keeping me up to date with all the news. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY Mum- love you lots. Post again soon xxxxx

Thursday, 31 March 2011

An Accidental Safari

On Monday we set off for Iringa, an 8 hour (not the planned 6 as first thought) journey through the amazing African scenery in a mini-mini bus. Our mission? To visit a different deaf school to gain some ideas of what other schools are like within Africa and to be, hopefully, inspired with ways we can improve the education at Buguruni School. However, we discover that the road we were travelling on just happened to go through a National Park, you can imagine my excitement when I saw this chap wandering along...

There were baboons playing on the side of the road, waiting for dropped food from passing cars, Impala running alongside the bus and then these two lovely ladies... (they may be boy giraffes but I think they look like two gossiping ladies, putting the world to right.) 

Becky and I! If you peer into the left corner you can see three other giraffes, glasses may be needed.

On the return journey we were lucky enough to stop in a safari lodge to eat our lunch. There were zebras chilling out, munching grass, monkeys playing in the trees and wilder-beasts galloping about.

If you look at the monkeys super closely you can see a baby monkey.
Half way through my lunch an elephant emerged out of the bushes very close to us, he (?) was followed by a young elephant, the waiter reckoned less then a year, then finally by the Mum elephant.

I will tell you more of the trip over the weekend. I didn't mean for my last post to bring tears to eyes (Maybe my job when I get back should be writing for soaps) the children's happiness is infection and I don't think I realise how sad some of their stories, and even futures are. (Julie and Jo you are big softies) 
Mart, unfortunately the kids won't be able to email Harry and friends, there is only one computer in the school which is used by the headmistress, and there is often no electricity. I could maybe get them to write a letter or draw some pictures that I can send to you when I get back, or any questions Harry has I can post the answers on here. 
Again thank you for the comments, I really love reading them. xxxxx 

Sunday, 27 March 2011

I have a dongle!

Cannot tell you the excitement of finally getting a dongle!! WOOOP! I have so much to write but have decided that I will do it gradually rather then post a load of stuff all at once, and to upload photos takes a long time.
Well, I got here with no problems and really enjoyed the flights, on the first one I had a row to myself so could lie down, felt as if I was in first class. Got to the convent and it is very peaceful amongst the bustle of the little 'village' it is in. The nuns were very welcoming and showed me to my room which is lovely- will put pics up in a future post.
View from my bedroom door into  the courtyard of the convent
I went into school after a really nice sleep and got introduced to the children, although it is a Primary School the kids range from 4 to 19 years old. In the morning they all stand in lines and sing/ sign the national anthem and the school song. I then had to stand up in front of them all and be introduced, it was all very overwhelming as I was still jet-lagged but they were incredibly welcoming and just a sea of smiles.

Some of the girls at the school, this was taken just after they spent forever playing with my hair
 The kids are great, very caring and patient. They are teaching me Swahili sign language which is a bit different to British sign language but having previous experience of sign definitely helps. They are amazing as their first language is sign, second Swahili, third English; they will spend 10 minutes trying to explain one word using a variety of methods- they sign it, then spell it, then act it, then write it on your arm, then write it in the sand and if you still can't get it they find someone else to interpret! For people who have nothing or very little their love and kindness is staggering, if I'm ever stood in the sun they move me to shade because of my white skin turning slowly pink!

I just love this photo, one of the kids took it, this really sums up how happy the kids are.
 I've been doing all sorts from helping in class, helping set up the library, checking and cleaning hearing aids, helping the teachers with their English, random jobs that seem to appear and of course playing.

Helping in the nursery class, a bibo is a fruit, the little girl is called Gloria.
Off to bed now, got an early start tomorrow as I'm going to visit another deaf school which is a 6 hour drive away. Hope you are all well xx

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Still no internet....

Sorry folks, still no dongle, hopefully I will be able to get one sorted this weekend. Still going well, can't wait to tell you all the news properly but once again borrowing someone else's internet so don't want to take the michael!! LOVED reading all your comments, can't wait to reply properly xxx

Saturday, 12 March 2011


Jambo translation - Hello

Just a quick one to say I have arrived safety and will hopefully be getting a dongle in the week. Thank you for all the comments so far. It has been great, a little scary and it is only just sinking in that I am staying here for three months. The kids at the school are great, so welcoming and smile all the time. As most know I have been staying in a convert and the nuns are great, looking after me. It is super hot, my hair hates me and I look like a lion most of the time.

I better go as I'm using someone elses internet but will do a proper blog very soon xxx

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Mary Hare

On Thursday I went back to Mary Hare School for the deaf, where I used to work as Care Staff. I caught up with Viv and Michelle who had just come back from the Buguruni School in Tanzania. They were really helpful, telling me top tips on things I may need to take, giving me some essentials and showing me their pictures. I was able to ask them questions so left feeling a lot more prepared.
I then enjoyed a great evening catching up with news, gossip and hugs! It was so good seeing the boys I worked with again- bet they can't believe I'm saying this but I do miss them!! It was good seeing all the staff too, I ended up leaving at 11.30pm instead of the forecasted 10pm, getting up for work the next day was a challenge. Well, getting up any morning is a challenge to be honest.

Footballs, skipping ropes and crafty bits from Lianne (aka Canada), a bag of goodies from Kiri and the Coles Diner Workers, Chelsea shirt from Lee and balloons from Amanda.
Over this week people have donated all sorts of bits and pieces for me to take over for the young people in Tanzania. I hope I can fit it all in!!

Becky and me out for dinner to celebrate the trip and birthdays!!
Off to pack some more, not long now.... xx

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Getting Organised

Over the past three weeks I have been gradually working through an ever lasting list of things I need to be doing, it actually is ever lasting as I keep adding things to the bottom of it.
Firstly I booked my flights and am flying with Emirates on Monday- (wooooo!!) and coming back on the 30th May. I am flying to Dubai, waiting there overnight then the following morning flying into Dar es Salaam. Other bits I have been doing include.... going to London to get my visa from the Tanzanian Embassy (well and catching up with some of the "crew") and sorting out insurance.
I have had to have 7 injections for the trip, 3 rabies, yellow fever, hep B, typhoid and meningitis, I also need to take malaria tablets every day that I am there- that is A LOT of tablets!!
My Malaria Tablets
Now, anyone who knows me knows how much I am a miserable shopper who normally walks through the shop to the shoes then back out again declaring that there is nothing in there for me! However I have been pretty good with getting bits and pieces, as the part of Africa I am visiting is 50% Muslim I have been advised to bring clothes that cover my shoulders, waist and the top of my legs. I have therefore been buying lots of t-shirts and longer shorts- it seems that green and white are the colour theme for this trip!!
I want to say a big thank you to our Halmore and area Family Friends who gave me a big surprise which I received over the weekend. It was incredibly heart warming and touching that people could be so kind and generous- thank you.

Anyhoo, will blog again soon, another shopping day tomorrow for the essentials like shampoo and body wash, better take those otherwise the kids won't want to come near the smelly English girl!
Charlie x

Friday, 25 February 2011

Testing, testing...

I am trying to work out how to use all the tiny buttons which I think do cool stuff... here goes!