John and Babs in Tanzania

Page 14

March - April 2008

Google Earth
Patandi Teachers' College

The Google Earth image shows the area where we are, together with the co-ordinates.

Patandi Teachers' College
Mount Meru from near our Home

After our first couple of weeks here, we began to realise that if we wanted anything to happen - quickly or slowly - we would have to initiate it ourselves. So we did!

Patandi Primary School
80 Children in the Kindergarten

Our first visit was to the local Primary School, Patandi Mazoezi, which is attached to the College and used, when needed, for teaching practice for the College students. It also has a Special Needs unit; this is for students with hearing, visual or intellectual impairments, as well as some with autism. We were warmly welcomed by the Head teacher, who proudly showed us around, and we were very enthusiastically greeted by the Special Needs children. The next part of our next visit was to the Kindergarten where there were approximately 80 children in the class with 2 teachers. All the children were sitting 3 or 4 to a desk, with satchels on their backs containing their porridge cup. This confirmed Babs' decision as to where she would like to help!

Our Patandi Home
The View from our Front Door

Our Patandi Home
The "Office"

The Curtain

The Curtain
Half Way

The Curtain

Our house was very slowly becoming a home - we continued to buy essential items for the kitchen and bedroom as well as cleaning equipment and sundries. While at the local market, which is really excellent, we bought some material for Babs to make curtains, designed by John! Imagine high, horizontal narrow windows with wire grills on the inside. Babs stitched three sets of ties along the edge of the material to attach it, with bows, to the bottom of the grill. Loops sewn on the other edge of the material fit on 3 cup hooks that John had added to the top of the window frame. The curtains are then able to hang down from the ties during the day and are able to be hung up by the loops, covering the window, at night - perfect!

One of our problems at Patandi is the lack of water - we have no water coming into the house, and the College had had no running water for 5 months! So the daily chores soon included the walk of about 200 metres to the end of a long hosepipe to collect water, and then carrying it back to the house in buckets. Who needs to go to the gym when we have this exercise!

Lake Duluti
The Lake

Lake Duluti
Babs with a Cold Soda

Lake Duluti
John with a Cold Beer

During one of the first weeks here, we decided to explore the surroundings, on foot. After a short walk along the road outside the College, we took a left turn and continued for about 20 minutes - and arrived at Lake Duluti. It was beautiful and peaceful, and we could hardly believe that we were just off the busy main road. We found a place to have a soda and beer, while enjoying the lovely view and tranquil surroundings, before walking back home.

Patandi Pupils
Children Learning by Doing

Babs started visiting the Kindergarten on a regular basis, to work with the teachers and a young American volunteer called Jera. She was very enthusiastic, friendly and confident, and just the opposite of the two teachers who showed little interest in their jobs and are quite lazy. Babs and Jera work together to see if they could inspire the staff to make a more 'educational' and interesting environment for the children.

Patandi Pupils
Time for Porridge

Patandi Pupils
Yum, Yum!

Patandi College
The Computer Room

John continued to try and understand the 'Solaris' computer system, and the staff began to ask for his help, which was a step in the right direction.

At long last, six weeks after our arrival at Patandi, we had a business-like meeting with the Principal. John's position was discussed first and thankfully, in this placement, both seemed to be on the same wavelength. However, there was not time to discuss Babs' role - this would have to wait. Talk about discrimination!

The water situation continued to be a problem; the queuing, filling and carrying take quite a time. On one occasion we went to the usual hosepipe only to find it had disappeared; we were told that we would have to go down the hill and across the field to collect the water. We decided that, to do this, we would definitely need our walking boots, so we returned to the house and changed. It had been raining heavily overnight, and we made our way across a field that we can only surmise was like a paddy field; thankfully the boots kept us dry. The water tap was in the empty shell of a house with no windows or doors, apart from a substantial front door, just masses of mud that everyone had carried in while collecting their water. Obviously, downhill going meant uphill on the return, which, with two buckets of water each, was a real killer! We did this for three or four days and then decided to see the Principal to ask for another solution to the problem. He is still thinking. However, we became aware of standpipes in different places around the College over the next few days, intermittently supplying water. Unfortunately, water does not flow from the same pipe for two days running, so it's a case of trying each in turn. This can take quite a time!

The mid-term break for the College consisted of Good Friday and Easter Monday. All the students had been out on teaching practice until shortly before the break, and they gradually began to filter back. Unfortunately, on Easter Sunday, the daughter of the Deputy Principal died. She was about 19 years old and had had sickle cell anaemia. We were unaware of this at the time, and watched as lots of people descended on the family home, followed by singing and praying. We thought that this was part of the Easter celebrations, and had no idea of what had actually happened. Understandably, the College came to a standstill. We were invited to attend a Mass for her on the Tuesday, which we did, but declined the invitation to file past her open coffin. The family left in the early hours of the next morning to take her body to the family home near Bukoba, a very, very, long journey by road, taking nearly 2 days.

Patandi College
The Central Area

Patandi College
John's Office (2nd Door Along)

We thought that the College would then get back to work, and lectures would begin again. However, as 9 of the tutors are completing Degrees in Special Needs Education, they were all in the computer room typing up their research. No lessons yet, we were told, perhaps tomorrow! In the meantime, we were asked to proof read and correct the English for these tutors. This proved to be very time consuming, and difficult to know how critical we should be. Some would have been happy for us to take their reports away and rewrite it for them - we declined! Needless to say, many had not completed their dissertations by the handing-in date, and so were given an extension.

Our Patandi Home
Collecting Rainwater from the Roof

Then the long rains began, which made our water collection much easier as we could collect water off the roof. It's incredibly easy to collect 5 buckets of water!

While staying in the hotel when we arrived in Arusha, we became friendly with the receptionist called Candy, who was very pregnant. She said that she would like to invite us to her wedding. When the day arrived, we had a difficult search for the venue, but got there 15 minutes early for the ceremony that was due to take place at 2pm. It was in a rather run down Registry Office, with seats for 2 and standing room for about another 10. The place was deserted except for the registrar, who had another wedding at 3pm. At 2.20pm the groom arrived, followed, after 2.30pm, by the bride! John helped them with the words of their vows - a surprise that he could remember them after 36 years! The reception was not due until 5.30pm as the bride had to go home to rest and prepare for it. There was nothing for us to do but to go back to the hotel & wait.

The Wedding
Waiting Guests

We walked to the reception venue at about 5.45pm, since we didn't want to be the first to arrive. The restaurant was beautifully decorated with pink festoons of material and balloons - we were the third couple there! We sat and sat, and the room gradually filled up. Then the bride and groom arrived. It was 8pm! The bridal party consisted of the bride in full gown, with bridesmaids and pages, most of whom had not been at the official ceremony.

The Wedding
The Bridal Party Leaving

The Wedding
Cutting the Cake

The next hour was spent stroking champagne bottles to bring the couple luck, wiggling hips in conga style as we presented our gifts, and cheering loudly as the very brightly coloured cake was cut. A very nice meal followed, then dancing to a live band and, just after 10pm, the bride and groom left. Another Tanzanian experience! Incidentally, the baby arrived a couple of weeks later: a girl, called Angel.

More to come from John and Babs in Tanzania soon.