Monday, May 21, 2012

Where have we been?

We know it has been WAY too long since our last update, so let's quickly play catch up. Since we last blogged we have:
1. Finished language school
After 3 months in the comfortable Makoko Language School nest, we were set free to fly on our own. Were we ready? Probably not, but after a quick graduation where we were required to give impromptu speeches in kiswahili, the teachers handed us our diplomas and wished us luck in our next three years of navigating Tanzanian culture and language.
2. Went on a trip of a lifetime
The day after language school we hopped on a plane to Arusha to meet up with Caitlin's family for an incredible safari in honor of her late Aunt Sue. As many of you know, Caitlin's aunt, who passed away last November, owned a travel company that specializes in safaris. Over many years she became very close friends with a Tanzanian man named Willy Chambulo who owns Kibo Safaris. In gratitude for Sue's friendship and mentorship Willy invited all of Sue's children and siblings to come to Tanzania and stay in several of his amazing camps and safari lodges, all expenses paid.
 We felt very blessed to be a part of this incredible trip. The highlights were driving into the middle the great wildebeast migration, sneaking up on 10 sleeping lions, spending the night in canvas tents in the middle of the Serengeti where lions and hyeanas could be heard right outside and getting the chance to show our family some of the reasons why we love this country (oh yeah and let's be honest, gin and tonics, swimming pools and the bathtub at Lake Masek Luxary Tented Camp). The most important and touching event of the trip was spreading Sue's ashes near a lake full of hippos. It was a very moving experience to watch her be returned to the land that she loved so much. We were honored to be a part of this trip are overwhelmed with gratitude for Willy and more than anything the legacy and memories of Sue.

3.  Started our jobs
As soon as we returned from our safari we jumped right into work. David immediately began testing his Swahili skills, getting to know the teachers and students at Huruma. Within days of starting he was already being asked to help write IEPs and figure out how to pay for the school bus. The bus situation has been a big challenge for the school because many of the parents cannot afford to pay their students share for the bus. This means that almost half of the students in the school have been staying home. David and the other teachers are wracking their brains for fundraising ideas to find a sustainable way for the school to pay for the bus. All in all the teachers are trying their hardest and many students face great challenges daily, yet it is a very happy place and David enjoys working there very much.
Caitlin has had a much slower start at the Butimba chekachea. She has spent the last few weeks observing in the two classrooms, struggling through tea time Swahili conversations with teachers who want to know everything about Europe and mzungu hair (they  haven't quite figured out that all white people don't live in Europe)and trying to sneak in some phonetic awareness songs and games when possible with the students. The kids are extremely eager to learn and Caitlin finds herself completely surrounded by them whenever she sits down to help a student. She will admit that she still gets completly giddy when she walks in the classroom and all of her students stop what they are doing, stand up and say "Good morning teacher Katie! How are you? We are fine, teacher Katie!"
In her weeks of observing Caitlin has noticed several areas where she feels the teachers can improve their use of class time, discipline techniques and engagment of the students in curriculum. She is bursting at the seams with ideas but is patiently waiting to share while she practices her Swahili, learns more about how schools in Tanzania work and builds relationships with her teachers and mkuu (head teacher).

4. We moved into our new house
We know that the suspense has been killing all of you waiting to hear which house we chose. (If any of you are remember our post from so long ago.) We chose...wait for it...the Mabatini house!
Caitlin cookin' up something 'licious
About three weeks ago we signed a year long contract and gave the owner a HUGE stack of Tanzanian shillings for the whole year's rent (the regular practice here) and a just a few short days later we moved in. We were a little hasty and probably moved in before we were ready but we were anxious to get out on our own and try our hand at Tanzanian life in the flesh.
Our first night was rough. The mosquito net was too small for our bed, we had to staple fabric over the window to serve as curtains and Caitlin came down with a crazy head cold. The biggest problem was that we didn't have enough gas in our stove to boil water so we had nothing to drink and more importantly we couldn't make tea for our new guard Julius as he took on his first overnight shift on our porch. To say that moving into a new home in Tanzania is a different experience than in the states is definitely  an understatement.
All in all we are much more settled now. At this point we have a bed, a stove, a refridgerator, a table, two couches and a whole lot of empty space.  Soon we will be ready to entertain guests with our many spacious rooms so get your tickets booked! 
That's some of the latest for life here- we'd love to hear from you if we haven't already. Shoot us an email if you'd like to know more or have an idea for how to get involved at Thanks for reading!

View from our front porch.

No comments:

Post a Comment