This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Pure joy. How many times can I say I have felt pure joy in my life? I think it happens on a rare occasion, but this week was one of those weeks where I could not stop smiling.
What is a better way to kill Monday-itis than to celebrate your own birthday? Once I got home from placement, my birthday afternoon began with one of the housemates presenting me with a pink birthday hat to wear all evening. My Twiga House friends took me out for dinner to a restaurant called George’s. The restaurant was fancier than a lot of the places I go to at home, with friendly staff, a picturesque setting and outdoor tables and sunshades. The bathrooms were also very fancy, with mini handtowels you could dispose of once you were finished. A good majority of the group got pizzas and I had a burger and fries which were delicious. The meals were so satisfying that we could all only eat half of them, and took the rest home as leftovers. As the night was coming to a close, the staff danced toward our table singing a song in Swahili and holding a mini chocolate cheesecake with candles. When they came to the table they started singing Happy Birthday in English, and even sang my name correctly (apparently Kelly spent a good five minutes explaining how to say my name)! Who could have asked for a more special birthday?
The rest of the week was made even better with a change in schedule at my placement. Andrew and I had been discussing how we did not really have a structure to our days at Miale School, and they heard our concerns and decided to give us a timetable. I got given class 3 Mathematics (ages 7, 8 & 9), class 4 Vocational (the arts) studies (ages 9 to 10), class 6 English (ages 12 & 13) and class 7 PDS (physical education in ages 14 & 15). This allows me to see a variety of ages and get to know how to teach different subjects. The children are all so willing to learn and put their hands up, and whenever they see me struggling they smile at me and help me if they can. On Tuesday I was thrown into class 6 English with no preparation and I attempted to teach them the Present Tense from a textbook. I honestly struggled and realised how difficult it is to teach aspects of my native language that I never formally learned. On Wednesday I planned an entire lesson on the Past Tense before I marked their homework from the day before. When I marked their work, I noticed that the children were as confused as I was. I scrapped my idea of teaching the Past Tense and planned a refreshed lesson on the Present Tense. I walked into the classroom and asked my class, “Did you understand yesterday’s lesson?” I got an audible “No!” from the class, and resumed to teach them a lesson on the Present Tense. It was the most rewarding feeling to see a large group of young minds click over and understand a subject that I had explained.
Andrew and I were given bad news on Wednesday night. Miale School had been closed down for the week on account of the government’s investigations. I do not exactly understand the reasoning behind the school closure, but the government has been going to different schools in the area and asking for money, which has caused a few establishments having to close down. This meant that on Thursday we had to go to someone else’s placement. I’m a bit disappointed to have to change after I had just started to get the flow of things, but it means that I get to see how another school works, which is really interesting. The new placement I am attending is an orphanage school with almost as many classes as Miale, and the children are fun and well behaved. Unfortunately I had just gotten a cold and could barely focus on anything because of my heavy head and blocked sinuses. I ended up having to take Friday off because of how sick I was.
Despite my cold, my second week has been amazing. Saturday was my favourite day. It did not take a lot to make me happy and I think that was the best part about it. I had a sleep in until 8:30am, relaxed for a couple hours and then set out to do my laundry. Washing machines do not exist in Tanzania and therefore everything is done by hand. I got two big tubs, washed in one and rinsed in the other. This calming process takes one hour and a half and is very satisfying to get a load of washing completed for the week. Once I was done, a group of us went to town to have lunch at a burger joint (with all-you-can-eat guacamole, might I add) and finished with gelato for dessert (I had a scoop of tiramisu and a scoop of chocolate chip). The rest of the afternoon was reserved for going to the markets. We went to the secondhand markets where I got to haggle for the first time (I was quite intimidated), stacked with clothes, shoes and accessories everywhere. The next markets we visited were the Maasai Markets, filled with beautiful handmade souvenirs of all sorts. Kelly took me to a seamstress who got me to choose a fabric, then measured me, took my name and will make me an African dress. I get to pick the dress up on Tuesday and I am so excited! The afternoon was spent walking past the stalls, having every store owner trying to convince us to see their products and learn how to haggle like a pro.By the time we came home, I was beaming from ear to ear. I don’t know why, but the day made me so happy. This place just makes me so passionate about life and excited about where I am.
Today was a peaceful end to a great week. Most of us slept in, relaxed and read all morning. We took time out to rejuvenate and have time to ourselves. In the afternoon we travelled to a place called Shanga where we had afternoon tea (I had a banana smoothie and a chocolate chip cookie). It was a peaceful and beautiful cafe to relax and hang out. I could not think of a better way to chill out before a week of volunteering.
I’m excited to see what the next week has in store for me, and I hope you’re enjoying hearing about my adventures too. I am so grateful that I get to be here, and this week has showed me what a great decision I made in coming here.
Thanks for reading, I’ll talk to you soon!
Until next time,