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