It is my second weekend in Tanzania and the end of an extremely tiring, exciting and busy first week orientation at Amani.
Life at Hostel Hoff is good and it is great to be looked after with breakfast, dinner and laundry included. The crowd here are all good fun and almost without exception very friendly. Everyone is working at a project of some sort, mostly orphanages and they are all amazed at my schedule of full days, generally they seem to work for four hours a day and have the afternoons free. There are some amazing tales told over dinner and I take my hat off to these youngsters for taking time and money to come here. We are a mixed bunch of nationalities, a lot of Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, some German, Australian, Canadian and one Irish girl. Living in a dormitory environment is fine as long as everyone shows some respect for each other which is certainly the case here. I sometimes feel a little frustrated at the end of a busy day when I cannot find any private space but overall life at Hostel Hoff is good.
Tanzania has a set twelve hours day and night all year round and the inherent body clock adaptation is weird. Going to bed at 9pm is not unusual! It is dark by seven with dusk arriving quickly at six thirty; similarly dawn arrives early and sees me rising with it. The weather here is extremely changeable and cooler than I had anticipated. The mornings are often cloudy and a little breezy but generally it is hot and sunny by lunch time, dusk brings a definite drop in temperature and I need a light blanket at night as I am finding it decidedly cool compared to Spain. The mosquitoes have been kind to me and so far and I have got away with just one bite (and this was last night!) I am diligent with the use of repellent and sleep with a mosquito net but the lack of bites has been a relief. The overriding description remains dry and dusty.
There is a great lizard within the hostel compound, probably ten inches to a foot long and a beautiful blue green colour with shades of yellow and red. Apart from this, I have as yet to spot any wildlife, there are no lions in this town! I have walked to and from Amani a few times now and it is a good 45 minute walk each way alongside the main road and as yet I have not been bothered by insects, snakes or anything more threatening than a friendly “shikamoo” in greeting! I have yet to brave the dala dala (local bus).
Moshi is a fair sized town and contains many residential neighbourhoods, one of which is Soweto where I will be living as of next Wednesday 25th September. It will be good to have my own space and be able to control my diet better. Meals are carbohydrate laden with lots of rice and lentils but all very tasty and good. I experienced uji this week, which is a much loved local porridge that the girls at the hostel had all warned me I would be expected to drink and should try to feign enjoyment! It was actually quite nice but heavy as a drink and very sweet. Definitely more of a winter breakfast for me! Usually at Amani we have chai (tea) mid-morning and this is served white, weak and very sweet. Again this is something I really quite enjoy and look forward to daily! Me the hardened coffee drinker!
Friday night is party night at the hostel and I found myself drinking several bottles of Kilimanjaro beer last Friday and so this week I prepared and ensured I had a very nice bottle of South African red to wash down my meal! As you can see life is not so hard!
The mighty Kilimanjaro has remained elusive to me hiding behind the clouds, although I am now learning where the best spots are to catch sight of her! To be honest I hadn’t really thought about it in my first week, there was so much happening for me however, on Wednesday I was leaving Amani when Kristi pointed her out in all her glory. This really was awesome. Suddenly there was this enormous mountain which seemed to just appear from nowhere. It really is hard to describe how imposing and beautiful it is. Plus it is just there on its own. There is no range of mountains that I could see just this one phenomenal structure which seemed to creep up on me unannounced!
My first week at Amani has crowded my head with impressions and I need some time and space to sort through them, so I have only mentioned Amani in passing so far. I am on a two week orientation programme which involves spending time with all the various staff and gaining an understanding of exactly how and what Amani is all about and how it runs as smoothly as it does. I can say that I now have a clearer picture of my role within the structure and can see that it is a fantastic opportunity and will be an enormous challenge.
This week was holiday in the school curriculum and so the staff were all able to spend time with me and I was able to interact with the kids as they played and relaxed. The entire week was a build-up to Graduation day, which was Friday and represented a party day with formal acknowledgement of fourteen of the kids having completed their grade 7 exams (prior to secondary school so the equivalent to the 11plus for the oldies like me!). Relatives and local dignitaries were present and the whole day was centred on the kids, it was great fun and I feel honoured to have been included in this auspicious occasion.
Clearly future posts will focus more on Amani but for today I will close this post with my view of what they are about in summary.
Breaking the cycle of poverty.
Five small words that encompass an enormous challenge and yet, after my first week, I am left with a strong conviction that this is exactly what I can be a part of here. The team at Amani are truly dedicated to and are achieving this mission. Graduation day is proof of this, every time another street kid gets to come forward and receive their graduation papers they are well on the way to breaking the cycle of poverty that they grew up in.
Baadae, hasta luego, catch you later. xxx