John and Babs in Tanzania

Page 12


While we were in the hotel, the driver collected us in the College vehicle each day, for the 20 minute drive to Tengeru. This was generally at about 9am, but there were occasions when we were still waiting at 10.30am, and we hadn't been told about any change of plans - this is Africa!

Patandi College
General View

During our first two weeks, the Principal was out of College, on other business in Arusha. Although we met fleetingly on a couple of occasions, to exchange greetings, we were not able to discuss our placements in any detail. A regular feature, though, was Chai - morning break at which all those in the staff room drank chai, sometimes accompanied by dry sliced bread. Chai? Sweet milky tea, which we are gradually getting used to, but don't think we'll ever like. An ongoing topic of conversation at Chai concerned the tutors going out to assess their students on Teaching Practice. They are in all parts of Tanzania and long journeys are needed to get round them all; unfortunately, the funding for the tickets had not yet been arranged. Another problem concerned one of the exam papers that the second year Diploma students were doing; a part in braille was missing and the police were helping to sort it out.

On the Thursday of our first week, we were still waiting at the hotel at 11.15am. Eventually, the vehicle arrived with a couple of staff. The Deputy Principal seemed quite harassed. As well as the other problems, a student had died and was to be buried the following day, and many of the staff would be attending. We agreed that we would remain in Arusha, and resume our daily visits to the College on Monday. So, more days for orientation (or sightseeing!); we were very lucky.

One of the ongoing events in Arusha is the United Nations Tribunal investigating the genocide in Rwanda. It's at the Arusha Conference Centre which is a short walk from the hotel. Since it's open to the general public, we decided that this would be a good opportunity to visit it. However, when we arrived we were told that the Tribunal does not continue on some Fridays, including this one! Another day, perhaps.

Scaffolding . . . the Tanzanian Way!

Mount Meru Overlooking the City

Living in Arusha is very pleasant for us. It is about 1300m above sea level, the climate is much like that in Bukoba and there is the added bonus of the view of Mount Meru. Arusha is a thriving city and there is quite a lot of development. However, UK Health and Safety departments would have a field day here!

A local craft market, just down the road from our hotel, was our destination on the next day. It is a huge place, with some wonderful items, but many of the small cabins contained the same goods over and over again. Each stall holder insisted on us entering and looking at what they had to offer, even though we explained that we could buy anything, at least until we had a home to put it in. On the following day, Sunday, we decided to have a really lazy day and wrote letters, e-mails and read. It's a hard life.

Patandi College
Our House

The routine continued with our daily journeys to Patandi. On the Wednesday, we were told we would be moving into our new home the next day. Amazement, shock and trepidation just about summed up our feelings. We had seen our house and it was still a shell, although window glass had been replaced and electricity re-installed to each room.

Our Patandi House
The Yard

The front door opens into quite a spacious living room, with a room at each side intended as a bedroom. At the rear, a small, enclosed yard has four small, outhouses along the back, with doors opening into the yard. The first is the 'kitchen'; sadly, this was only the four walls with an electric plug on one of them. The second is the shower room, which was being gloss painted, straight onto stone walls! The third is the toilet; this was in the process of being tiled in a rather unusual design of random tiles. The final shed was empty and intended as a store room; openings to the outside make it of limited use. That's a brief description of our house, which we hope will soon become a comfortable home. If anyone has contacts with television programmes that do make-overs in Tanzania, we would be happy to co-operate!

The Kitchen - Before
(We hope there will an After!)

The Temporary Kitchen
It's like Camping!

We had realised that we were not going to be provided with a fully furnished luxury home, but we knew that we would have a bed, some comfortable chairs and a table and chairs. As it turns out, we were also given a coffee table, which, at present, is being used as a clothes store, and a two-burner gas cooker, which, with its gas bottle, is (temporarily, we hope) in the living room.

Thinking ahead, we knew that, although we were to move in, we had no crockery, cutlery, bedding, cleaning equipment, etc; nor did we have any food, having been in hotels since we arrived. With everything a rush now, we had to act quickly to buy some essentials until we found out exactly what our accommodation included. A mosquito net was one essential, and then the head waiter from the hotel very kindly insisted on accompanying us to the market to haggle over the prices of whatever else we needed.

On Thursday 28th February, after 12 days in the Arusha Resort Centre hotel, we moved into our new home, about 4pm. It was not possible to get in earlier because the paint was still not dry, and there were four workmen (six the previous day) very busy fixing locks, lights, the toilet, the bed, and even cutting grass! On our way to Patandi that morning, with the Deputy Principal, we collected the gas cooker and 32kg gas bottle, and our bed mattress. Once there, everything, including all our bags, was unloaded into the house and we started to sort out.

Our Bedroom
Before we had Sheets

Unfortunately, the mattress was about 20cm too short for the homemade bed! Not a problem: the carpenter was phoned and he returned to take the bed to bits, saw 20cm off the sides and reassemble it! It's a good job we are both quite short!

Our Living Room
Breakfast for Babs

Our Living Room
John enjoying Tanzanian Coffee

Needless to say, our first night was not very comfortable. Luckily, we had sheet sleeping bag liners and used towels for pillows. We had remembered to buy the wine, however, so it could have been much, much worse! Getting organised the following morning was a real challenge. Fortunately, the weather was warm and we were able to wash outside in the yard because the gloss paint in the shower room was still not dry. Later that morning, we returned to town to buy a few (in fact, a lot) more essentials for living such as sheets and pillows, bowls and buckets for washing us, clothes, dishes and the house, brushes - and food.

Tengeru Market
Midori and Mangoes

The Market

On Saturday, Ally, one of the students, and our neighbour, Midori, a Japanese volunteer soon to return home, took us over to the local market, directly opposite the College. It was wonderful! Excellent fruit and vegetables on dozens of stalls, and a very large household section, together with a huge selection of clothes and shoes; this was very different from at Hekima, where we were unable to shop locally. We stocked up and returned home. Then we were told that a visitor was expected sometime during the day in the computer room. This turned out to be Geoff, originally from Sunderland and now living in Morogoro, who was instrumental in developing the computer system at the College; it was a very useful meeting.

Bananas . . .
. . . Growing next to our House

Bananas . . .
. . . On the way to Market

We returned to the site of the market the next day, so that we could get our bearings; it had been very busy on the Saturday and we were concentrating on the shopping. In actual fact, quite a few stalls were still selling a variety of items and there were a few shops open, even on a Sunday; we don't think we will ever be hungry here! While in the market we heard, then saw, a large procession of people, singing loudly as they approached us carrying a large cross. We quickly moved to one side to make way for them. It then dawned on us that we were standing right in front of a table covered in a white cloth and festooned with white and blue toilet paper; yes, you've probably guessed - it was the altar! We scuttled away, red-faced, much to the amusement of the congregation.

During the week that followed, we continued to settle in to our new home, did more shopping and became more familiar with the College and the surroundings. We also started to give a lot of thought to what we would be able to do here and what, realistically, we could achieve. However, this has not been easy. Only those students who are on Teaching Practice locally are here and Tutors come and go as they fit in assessments when time and money permit. On the last occasion we saw the Principal, he told us he was just off to a meeting in Dar es Salaam, but would be back at the weekend.

Once again, therefore, we feel in limbo as we have not so far been able to finalise our roles in the College. Perhaps next week . . . . . . ? Watch this space!

More to come from John and Babs in Tanzania soon.