Happy Thanksgiving!

In response to a concerned reader complaining that I have not posted in some time, I figured I’d try and make it a priority this week to update people on what’s been going on in my rural Tanzanian life.

I have officially had my first holiday in Tanzania which was somewhat of an odd one to experience here. Being in a culture that takes very seriously the idea of witches wizards and witch doctor magic it was truly a test of my creative thinking skills coming up with a way to explain Halloween to members of my community without making them think I have some sort of secret satanic worship. This backfired significant when I decided to carve  a pumpkin… I went to town picked out a great little guy who I thought would be just perfect in my home. Brought the pumpkin back to my house, carved it with a butter knife, and enjoyed its smiley company for about 3 days before it completely molded inside and I had to throw it out. Unfortunately before the 3 days were up a fell ill (just a small cough and runny nose) but because I live at the clinic I felt it was smarter to stay locked in my house then interact with other sick people further exposing myself and them sickness. During my day at home I relaxed watched movies and pretty much did nothin. Right around evening time I heard a knock on my back gate; it was soft so I thought maybe I could ignore it but they were persistent. Finally I threw a dress on and headed to the gate to answer it. This is the point where I went wrong, upon exiting my home I left the back door open like I always do to get airflow inside; this entrance give you direct sight into the kitchen area of my home and that has not been a problem now that I have a fence.  As I opened the gate thinking I could block the entrance with my body the little girl on the other side embraced me in a hug, did sort of a spin move, and somehow ended up inside my fence with direct visual access to my kitchen where my pumpkin sat proudly. Being sick I did not have the energy to try and explain the significance of the pumpkin or why it was carve the way it was so she just sat there and started wordlessly at what I can only imagine she thought was some questionable decoration or something worse. Imagine knowing nothing about Halloween and seeing a normal everyday food with a slightly creepy face carved into it at a visitors home, you’d  probably be a little freaked too! Needless to say she left quickly telling me she had to go home and I spend the rest of the night worrying she was going to run home and tell her family I was doing some sort of witch craft at my home and i would be exiled from the village forever…it was a rough day. We got through it and the little girl still talks to me but I’m always gunna wonder if she now thinks I’m some kinda crazy person carving faces into pumpkins frequently….guess we’ll never know haha.

We have started to receive some rain, not a lot like what has been expected as normal this time of year but it is coming and was enough for me to start working on a garden. I stress the word start because I got not even an inch down and I hit rock and hard packed sand so until more rain comes and the ground can loosen up I am at a stand still. Recently a mama came to my house and asked me if I would be farming this year and when I said yes she laughed and asked where as if she was expecting a different answer. I told her to come and I showed her the small work I had started to do behind my home and the blood blisters that have formed on my hands as a result. At this she began to laugh but in more of an endearing way and then proceeded to tell me I had the hands of a new born child and if it was hurting me to stop for a couple days and then resume work. The mama brought me to her home showing me her callused hands and explaining that she no longer gets blisters but it took a lot of years of work, then she gave me fertilizer to help get me started in my farming journey. Although she laughed I didn’t get upset because I felt she still believed in me and by giving me the fertilized she was showing that she supports me if this is something I am serious about.

I also recently had my very first teaching experience. The day was full of a range of emotions but in the end it was great. I don’t know when I began feeling so unconfident in myself but it has gotten to the point where I am almost overcome by fear to do anything. The morning of the lesson I was obviously never nervous and the nurse who was helping me came to my house with a load of questions: did we have this, how were we going to do that, can I explain this more, or make the lesson faster, so many things that we could have talked about the day before (which we had spent together). Essentially I was overwhelmed and already on my last leg so I broke out in tears, I couldn’t stop them they just kept coming and I didn’t know what to do. I told her I would not be doing the lesson that day we were obviously unprepared and because I had started to cry my eyes were welling up and turning red. All of the sudden she had a solution for every questions and concern she had and told me we were doing the lesson and she would come get me when they were ready. So I found an old bottle of concealer in my things from home (50 shades to light now that I have been in the sun so much I might add) slapped it on my red eyes and nose, gathered my things, and headed over to teach. The lesson was tailored and given to HIV positive patients, it consisted of a short discussion on why hand washing and clean water are important for optimal health, a small nutrition lesson, and was wrapped up with a cooking demonstration. The patients were receptive to the questions and discussion and they loved the food. It was liberating to teach these people and I hope that this little boost of confidence will be enough to help me feel ready to start teaching more consistently.

Finally, we have finished both of our soccer clubs and we held a graduation for all the students and their parents this last weekend. I made 7 small cakes in 3 hours the day before in preparation, I’m a pro baker on a charcoal stove now a-days. Saturday morning I arrived early spent time with the kids before and when my counterpart finally arrived we began the festivities. Some kids taught short lessons we had taught them, others did skits to show various scenarios concerning HIV/AIDS, and others gave short messages of thanks. We ate cake, passed out certificates, and took pictures; everyone seemed to enjoy the day and I left feeling happy I had started and finished a project aside from all the trials I encountered during the process.

As of now, besides possibly beginning to teach more at the clinic, I don’t really have a lot of prospects for new projects, as school gets out next week for a sort of Christmas break during the whole month of December. I am however excited to stay that I have been accepted and am going to a training in early December so hopefully after that I will have more of an idea of what is next and I can begin my 2019 of on the right foot!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone hope you eat lots of food and enjoy you’re friends and family! This weekend I will be heading off to have a friendsgiving with the volunteers in the Shinyanga region, I’m my next post I’ll be sure to update you on what we ate because as of now we have no idea!

-Peace Out

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