John and Babs in Tanzania

Page 16

May 2008

Preparing for Graduation
The Parade

When he met us at the Airport, the Principal told us that the following day was to be the Graduation Day for the Certificate students. In Tanzania, graduation is really a leaving ceremony and takes place before the examinations, which we found quite strange. As seen on the pictures, it was a memorable day for students, family and friends.

The Queue
Waiting to be Presented

Hearing Impairment Department
Part of the Class of 2008

Life started to return to normal - or, at least, what we assumed was normal! The following week, our Dutch visitors arrived. We were given the honour of showing them around the College and Mazoezi (Practice School) and we had a lovely day together. Before they left, they kindly, and unexpectedly, presented a cheque to the Principal for a donation that was to be shared between the two institutions. They also asked us to negotiate how the money would be spent - no pressure there then! They understood that, in Africa, it is unwise to give large sums of money to local individuals whom you do not know and are therefore unsure whether it will be used for the purpose intended.

The 'Walk for Development' Group
A Well Earned Rest on our Porch

Mieke Presenting the Cheque ...
... Eagerly Received by Mr Magoha

We continued to hear news on a regular basis from the Priest family, who were coping well. However, the tiredness was beginning to overtake their lives - we remember it well.

The Buckets are in the Queue
The Students Wait for the Water

The electricity supply at Patandi was reduced to being on during the day only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and after about 7pm every evening. This certainly made sure that work needed planning carefully! The lack, or shortage, of water was also now giving cause for concern. Queuing for what water there was took ages, and, to make matters worse, it was becoming much colder as the rainy season approached. The only positive outcome was that, when it did rain, we could collect water from the roof which we then sieved and filtered! The situation must have been very difficult for the Certificate student whose examinations were rapidly approaching. Immediately after their exams, they had to leave because there were no funds left to feed them.

Babs had now started to re-organise the College library, and with fewer students the task was much easier. Books were shelved randomly, or sometimes by size, and the room itself was very uninviting to say the least. The problems of water and electricity continued to hinder our work, but we started to think about our next trip home. This would be to see Eve, Mark, Helen, Mike and Matthew, and then to return with Babs’ sister, Sas, who was planning her holiday with us.

At short notice, the end-of-College-year exams for the first year Diploma students were brought forward to mid May; they were not at all pleased! By 24th May, all the students had left. We asked ourselves - why are we here? No students, no staff! Babs continued her work in the Kindergarten, which has somewhat different term dates, and in the library, where it was very quiet, and John started mending computers!

Our Neighbour, Kiwi Sue
Waiting for Water

On 27th May, we were surprised to find that we had a new neighbour - Sue is also a volunteer and is from a New Zealand organisation called VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad). We invited her for dinner – well, rice and beans - and there started a new friendship. We could laugh, moan and compare notes on our Tanzanian experiences - and there were quite a few!

The Kitchen in the Office
Or the Office in the Kitchen?

During all this time we were still cooking in the spare room cum office. The Principal had promised to renovate the outside kitchen but time was getting very short before Sas would be needing the room as a bedroom. Eventually, he had 2 shelves erected so that we could move in the gas hob and bottle. We knew if we wanted it decorating we would have to do it ourselves, and so we did. The paint was a lovely shade of pale blue - very cool and clean looking. Babs did a quick makeover, and we were able to move the kitchen out of the bedroom.

The New Kitchen - Before
Babs - DIY in Tanzania

The New Kitchen - After
Cool Blue

News from Helen and Mike was that by the beginning of June Matthew was finding his voice and gurgling – however, his sleeping, especially overnight, was still very erratic.

The rain continued, as did the water shortage, but the electricity situation improved slightly in the length of time it was on.

There were some brief discussions – not as much as there could have been - about the money from the Dutch donation. It was decided that the total should be shared equally between the College and the Mazoezi. The College decided to use its half for Special Needs books and other reference material. These were not readily available in Tanzania, so the few remaining staff were more than happy for us both to take some time off to return to the UK, arrange the buying of the resources and bring them back with us.

Our plans developed and we co-ordinated them with Sas to return with us. We didn’t tell her, but we were worried about where she was going to sleep since there was still no bed in the bedroom. However, a few days before we left, Msafiri, the carpenter, arrived with the excellent hand-made bed; the Principal promised the mattress would be here by the time we returned. We could only cross our fingers and hope that it would be provided – and that it would fit! On the evening we returned from our UK trip, it was, and it did!

More to come from John and Babs in Tanzania soon.