Wait... First go to your sink and pour a glass of fresh clean water to drink... then come back and watch this short video.
Wait... First go to your sink and pour a glass of fresh clean water to drink... then come back and watch this short video.

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.

You can make clean, accessible water and safe, healthy lighting a reality for the people of Mnang'ole by clicking below:
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IRS EIN # 27-1519070

Monday, May 23, 2011

Settling in...

The house was finally completed after a week or so.. and I learned that Siadi was going to stay in his own home and the new house was to be the property for African Empowerment Project! The furniture I ordered from a carpenter in the next village arrived little by little… first came the bed… so that I could move in and have a place to sleep… it arrived still sticky from recently applied polyurethane. But never the less it was here and I could move into my own place. Eventually another bed , a few small tables and some chairs arrived.. mostly carried by bicycle… till there was enough furniture to support my volunteers and myself.

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!


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  2. it is amazing to hear how you are doing and all of the lovely people you are meeting. in addition to how you are becoming such a part of their lives. <3