African Empowerment Project is committed to implementing and nurturing community run development projects focused on creating opportunities for income generation, achieving access to quality education, and improving health and wellbeing, in order to empower the people of Africa to build a sustainable life for themselves and future generations.
How YOU can help!
Please visit our website at www.africanempowermentproject.org to learn more about who we are and how we are empowering the people in the village of Mnang'ole, Tanzania to pull themselves out of poverty.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
-A form of jump rope that brings me back to the 60's .. But some of these kids have SKILLS!
-A form of hop scotch...
-Creations of art in the sand using small pieces of broken glasswear, rocks, and random materials are used to create temporary mosaics in a small section of sand
-Children mimicking a variety of adult chores such as mixing ugali(a staple food made of flour and water), or pounding skins off corn or millet with a long stick.
*Sitting on grass mats on the front of peoples yards enjoying their company, despite our inability to understand most of what each other says..
*Sharing a chair with the neighbor women... Holding their hands or leaning on each other ... A clear warm feeling of the understanding of each other and the friendship we share despite the language barrier...
*Many village friends stopping by to greet us.. Some with a 'hello how are you?' for those brave enough to practice the one English phrase they know...Others with a 'mambo' or a 'Habari za Leo' or a 'hujambo' or a salama, or all of the above!
*Learning and playing a new card game from our Tanzanian friends' last card'... A great card game! This game is coming back to America with me!
* Bringing medicine to my dear old friend Rashidi, the blind elder and his wife ..
* Walking around the village with a trail of children holding my hand... holding my skirt ... Escorting me to each and every destination !
* I had never experienced drumming and dancing in my village of Mnang'ole until one of the last nights of our stay. Kapingo, our friend and water and firewood porter arranged for some drummers to come in late afternoon to play for us... As it is here in Africa, 4pm really means 6 pm so I was not able to get good video.. .Though it was enjoyable...This day it was so short as there was an important 'football' (soccer) game in the village.... so they promised to return the next night! So as promised a group of 6 or 7 men arrived and lit a small fire beside them.. I'm assuming for light though I neglected to ask if the fire held any other significance, and then they began playing drums as well as pieces of metal. As soon as the sound reached the villagers ears... men, women, and children arrived at our front yard by the dozens! Soon there was singing and women and children circling the drummers dancing in a unison dance style while singing to the beat of the drums. Then an elderly woman began chanting something and the rest of the women would repeat her words... Though I recognized some of the words I was not sure what they were singing but assumed it was some traditional song they all knew... Gratefully, Mac came to me and informed me of what they were singing...The words went something like this... "Thank God for sending Beth as a blessing to our village.. You are welcome and thank you Beth"... I wished at that moment that I had my own song to sing back to them thanking them for their hospitality and for accepting us as their friends! Of course tears began to stream from my eyes as I was dancing outside the circle... Holding sleeping Zakia in my arms.... A moment of a lifetime...
* Watching the big football match between the married men in the village and the unmarried men, (both teams made a visit to the witch doctor in the village with the intention of obtaining some sort of power to win the game...) so if married men won... did it work???? or if the unmarried men won did it work??? Anyway...My favorite part of this football game was the celebration after a goal was scored... All of the women and children who were rooting for the scoring team would run into the middle of the playing field... Screaming and laughing and throwing grass in the air!!! The amount of energy and enthusiasm coming from these women and children could have lit up the whole village. Honestly I don't remember who won.. You can see that the game itself was the least of my concerns... The extraordinary moments of cultural exchange are always what captures my interest... But I think it was the married men who won...
So many more moments that come to mind... but I'll spare you today!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
With my own place came the dilemma… how will I get water and cook and clean and complete my projects.. this led the the realization that I would need a house girl… yes… I have a house girl. A sweet gentle young woman named Adijah. She is working for 10,000 T shillings a week… the equivalent of $7.50 a week… more than most people earn in this village. You can imagine the guilt I feel, allowing her to work for this low wage… I will need to reward her in other ways when I leave.
Stating to really feel a part of this community now. I believe that the villagers are now comfortable with me and trusting me. They seem to enjoy sharing their skills, their traditions, their, culture with me. A neighbor stopped by to inform me that she was about to pound the millet she had in a bowl to remove the skins before milling into flour.. she asked me to come watch her. Every day someone stops by to bring me corn, or cucumber, or even a papaya! Their way of showing gratefulness for the lanterns I’m sure. Each morning I hear the older children on their way to school and the younger ones waiting for me to emerge from my front door. I taught a few of the children the hand clapping pattern I learned as a child… the one that you sing Miss Mary Mack to… I was thrilled when, the day after I taught them this game I observed many children playing it in the village… It seems that within 24 hours they had taught it to their friends and neighbors…if I sit outside me home in a chair they gather around waiting for their turn one by one to play this game with me… while they wait to play with me they now play with each other. I think the reason it struck me so to see them playing this simple hand clapping game I taught them is because I know that this game will be played for years and generations to come…and that is an amazingly powerful feeling!!!!! It make me realize that each and every thing my team of volunteers and I are able to teach them …that they will benefit from… will have a lasting positive effect on this village. That is what I will call empowerment!
While I write this in my journal… I can hear the school children singing and marching through the village on their way to school, led by the accompaniment of drums, played by two children in the front of the parade…they are on their way to school. This is a ritual I have observed in a few other villages in Tanzania. Such a sweet pleasant sound to my ears each day.
I have a new little friend Fazira… a 22 month old little guy… so cuddly and sweet… he comes to me each day now… his family lives right next door. He is now a permanent attachment on my hip! Right now As I write he is jumping on my lap looking for a hug… hopping off.. playing a bit and returning within minutes for another hug… this has been going on for quite some time…he doesn’t realize that I am enjoying this game as much if not more than he is!!!
Today we have been asked by the district seceratary to come to the next village to talk to him about why we are here in Mnang’ole. Word travels fast between villages and the next village aught wind that the people of Mnang’ole are receiving lanterns and they want to know who’s supplying them and why they aren’t getting some. Apparently Saidi had not told him about the work that AEP is doing there and he would like to be informed of all the goings on in the villages that he presides over.
A woman came by today looking for me… she thinks she has malaria… they think I am able to cure all their ailment… apparently when I use hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin and bandages to help those with cuts…. They assume I am a medical expert… I had Salim tell them clearly during the lantern distribution that I am nto a doctor so if they need paoin medications or help for a minor cut I can help but otherwise they must go to the hospital.. but this information must have got lost in translation as… almost every day, someone comes to me for help with major infections, swollen body parts, breathing problems, eye sight problems, etc., and I have to rell them to go to the hospirtal and then walk away feeling rejected… some day they will have a hostpal here… for sure. Musi has a terrible infection on his leg and a very deep whole in his leg… it had been like this for weeks and it is very infected….. a very small baby next door has been crying for weeks and now his ear is visibley red from the outer ear… Im sure he has an ear infection… but they are not intending to bring him to the hospital… they wanted me to give him some medication to fix the problem… on to or the fact that the cost and distance for the hospital s an issue here…there is a big problem here with ignorance about medical care… anyway..we drove Musi and the baby to the nearest hospital about a 30 minute drive from the village.. the doctor gave the baby and antibiotic for an ear infection and Musi, an infection of an antibiotic and dressing for his leg and was told to come back for 5 days for more injections. I paid the $ 7 that it cost for both kids however the battery on the car died so I was not able to bring him so with the fee paid for for the intections they went to the hospital each day by bicycle.
In twpo days we will go to pick up mu American volunteers, Rachel and Jessica, in Dar Es Saalam… The road from lindi to Dar will be impassable by car now because of all of the rain.. so we will bring the car to Lindi… leave it there and take the bus to Dar… then come back on the bus to Lindi and hope that the rains stop before we must return to Dar at the end of the girls stay.
As I write today I am really enjoying the huge tree outside my home… it provides a cool place to sit and relax…. And greet the neighbors passing by… each and every one stopping to carry on the series of greetings common here in Tanzania… We say ‘hey how are you,?’ with a response o ‘fine’.. in America, and then we move on to other ipertainant information… here the greetings go like this… “Mambo?’ with a reponse of ‘Poa” then it goes something like this.. Habari?’ “Nzuri” then … Salama?’ “Salama” ….and so on sometimes with 5 different greetings virtually all meaning the same thing…
Feeling more and more at home each day.. Fazira just came running to me from his home... Bare butted.. With his shorts in hand.. Wanting me to dress him...my boy... I just observed the cutest Childs play I have seen .. Two toddlers with sticks as tall as themselves in hand.. Facing each other...Pounding them into a hole in the dirt pretending to be pounding the skins off the grain as their mamas do each day!!! This was surely video worthy ! Last night 17 year old Abdilahi and his friends came from secondary school for the weekend... There is no secondary school here in Mnang'ole so they must go to boarding school at the cost of 90,000 shillings ($125) a year... So they came to visit me early evening and a few began to speak in english.. We began teaching each other our native languages... This is the best way for me to learn ... From those who are desiring to learn english as well. We had so many laughs trying to annunciate what we were being taught and before I knew it it was 9 pm... Wish they were here full time so we could do this every day! My neighbor... Mama f
Fazira(Fazira's mama) has so many kids around and I knew her and Saidi only had 2 children..so was confused as to where they all came from. Turns out she has taken in her sisters kids after the death of both her sister and her brother-in-law. A 4 month boy..the one with the ear infection.. A 3 year old and a 14 year old, Rashidi... He speaks more English than any of the younger kids in the village...he is so smart and so sweet. Though the story of the loss of these 3 young Children's parents is so sad.. The way the family comes together to care for each other is beyond sad... Bibi ( grandma) lives there as well and each of the 8 people in this family shares in the caring of each other ... I'm envious of the tight family units of Tanzanian families.z
When I went to the next village yesterday Fazira was saying to his mama all day.. Yuko Wapi mama Beth? (where is mama Beth?)
Rain season means many days of rain and then... Joto sana(so hot)!
My house is simple and pleasant. Three bedrooms and a sitting room, a sufficient back yard for cooking and hanging clothes and a large toilet room... Simply tall grass walls a cement floor with a hole 2.5 inches in diameter .. Yes you must be a good aim to use my toilet! My favorite thing about this toilet room is showering under the stars at night!
Adijah is so amazing.. She arrives at 8 am... Fetches warm milk and chipati and serves us breakfast .. Then she sweeps the floor, goes to get water then washes our clothes, prepares lunch and dinner and sweeps the yard.. All for $7.50 a week... Shameful!
Tomorrow we leave for lindi ... We will leave the car there and take a bus to dar... The rain has made the roads impossible to travel with a car... Can't wait to see the girls!