Saturday, July 22, 2017
We woke up to another beautiful day in Tanzania. We boarded the bus at around 10 AM and rode to the Cathedral of Moshi. We waited near a yellow building that serving as a busy meeting place for the day. Many people were standing outside the front of the building and speaking to each other. They also stared at us while we waited for Will, Elyse and Mr. McMorrow to be picked up. Will, Elyse and Mr. McMorrow rode from there with Father Reginald to Mikocheni village. It was a very bumpy ride that lacked seat belts. On our way there, we drove through 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) of sugar cane fields and industry run by TCP. We were shocked by the overall size of the fields. Each field was at a different stage of growth, and once the sugar cane is ripe, it is burned and harvested all by hand. Father Reginald told us a story about how the ash can actually rain down from the sky in Moshi if the wind is blowing the right way. The planation itself is the largest in Tanzania. It is practically its own city because it has its own post office, housing, church and more. We also saw little gray monkeys on the side of the road, apparently many more than were seen on previous trips. Once we arrived in Mikocheni village, we were greeted by the men’s group and invited into their newly built Catholic church. The church was built of cinder blocks and concrete and it had simple wooden pews along with a concrete alter. The men were a variety of ages, including their leader who was a young man named Zacharia. We spoke with them about their lives and their plans to improve the village. Mr. McMorrow spoke with them about how excited we were to be integrated into their culture for a few hours and to apologize for the Tanzanian Village Fund’s inability to provide a tractor for them. At the end, Elyse talked about how much the experience meant to the group of students and chaperones. We followed the group to their big project, two man-made fishing ponds. They used to fish in a large lake near their village, but it has started to dry up and is becoming overfished, so the government has banned fishing in that area. The man-made ponds were around 6-7 feet deep with rock bottoms and an equal depth throughout. They planned to fill the ponds with catfish and regulate overfishing by reporting fish caught to the supervisor. Many of us were concerned that the fish would all die from the heat and lack of vegetation in the water, but Mr. McMorrow informed us that this idea is being used in many other villages in Tanzania and has proven to be very successful. Next, we visited the local primary school. It was a bright orange building surrounded by trees. When we arrived, the children were welcoming us with songs while stomping and clapping to the rhythm. Mr. McMorrow complimented them on their singing and talked about how important education is and how happy he was that they were all in school. Will also thanked them all for welcoming us into their community. Then we received a tour of a few of the classrooms. They were fairly bare except for a chalkboard and desks. There were concrete floors that were very uneven, and this was the cause for many broken desks. Recently, the Tanzanian Village Fund has helped to restore the flooring in the school, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Each concrete floor costs 550,000 shillings or $225. After the tour, we joined hands with the children and went to go play soccer. The goals didn’t have nets and the field was all dirt and rocks. We had a shootout, America vs. Tanzania, and Tanzania won after the their keeper blocked a wonderful strike from Baba Dick himself. We were told that the Tanzanian keeper was the best in the Kilimanjaro Region. We continued on with a walk through the village and were surrounded by children. The children were covered in dirt and dust, and many of them lacked proper shoes and clothing. Many in the village live in one-room mud huts with thatched roofs and dirt floors. We felt sad for the children and everyone living in the village because they were some of the nicest people we had ever met and they deserved so much better than what they had been given. Each one of us was being touched by at least 6 kids at a time. We have never felt more included and special in our whole lives. We were shocked how they treated us like celebrities because we are just average teenagers from America. Their hospitality was the most incredible part. They continued to welcome us all throughout the day. As we walked we sang songs and danced up and down the streets of Mikocheni. After we finished our walk through town, we said our goodbyes. They were filled with fist bumps, high fives and hugs. As we were leaving, the children noticed we had bottles of water and many of them asked for the water. This was especially heartbreaking because they don’t have the same easy access to water. All they have is a pump, paid for by the Tanzanian Village Fund. We then hopped back on the bus and continued to wave until we got out of town. Some of us experienced a lot of emotions on this ride back. Leaving was very difficult because we left the village without doing anything about their current situation. They are great people with a lot to offer and they deserve a much better life than the one we witnessed today. We can’t believe how happy they are with how little they have. Once we arrived back at the lodge we had a meeting. Mr. McMorrow discussed with us the importance of having dreams, or ndoto in Swahili. He said we should dream big in order to keep our life on track so we don’t spiral through life. We journaled about our dreams for the future of the world and ourselves. After journaling we shared our hopes for the future and the chaperones shared how they are living their dreams. One of Whitney’s dreams is to donate bouncy balls and pens to the children there because while she was there the kids asked her if she would get these items for them. As we were leaving the children reminded her to not forget her promise to them. It just shows how much little things like that can make a big difference. We liked how it related to the trip we took today because the people there also have big dreams and are working to make them a reality. They are truly inspiring and we hope take everything we have learned today and throughout the trip with us forever.
Posted by Dick McMorrow at 10:35 AM
Friday, July 21, 2017
Today, Whitney, Joe, Allie, Sophia, Will, Nathan, Jeron, and Matthew went to the St. Louis Primary School, while the others went to Upendo orphanage. After arriving at the school, we met the Academic Master, Mr. Moshi who showed us every classroom. He had us introduce ourselves to each classroom after explaining who we were and where we were from. Mr. Moshi made a mistake and thought our chaperone Whitney was Mr. McMorrow’s daughter while introducing us in the first classroom. Whitney, being the nice woman she is, decided not to call out Mr. Moshi in front of the class. So now 700 students think Whitney is Mr. McMorrow’s daughter. Mr. Moshi also made the interesting choice of calling Matthew, “Matthew from the Bible,” when he met him. We were surprised when Mr. Moshi called a kid with glasses “four eyes” in front of the whole class, especially since Mr. Moshi also had glasses. After introductions, we went outside to play with the kids during their break. All of us interacted with the kids in different ways such as playing soccer, ping pong, jump rope, reading, and just talking. Many of the younger kids would walk up to you and just hold your hand. They were so happy to see us that you could not hold back a smile. The kids liked us so much they would push other children away so they could continue holding our hand. At times, there would be multiple kids holding on to you in places you can’t imagine. The girls seemed to be the most popular by having more than 6 kids touching them for most of the time, although Joe was up there too. After the whole school had a break, some kids stayed outside and spent time with Joe, Whitney, Nathan, Will, Allie, and Sophia while Matthew and Jeron went to help in the technology lab by answering questions the kids had about their new tablets. Outside, we played soccer and jumped rope with the kids until the rest of the school came out to play again. Near the end of our morning Will was getting beaten badly by a teacher in ping pong and everyone else was worn out from all the kids… we left shortly after, but promised to come back. While walking back to the lodge exhausted we discussed how much fun we had.
Posted by Dick McMorrow at 12:40 PM