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Entries in Mission (5)


Tanzania Mission, Day 6: Praying to the gods of cell coverage

These posts are coming courtesy of a sliver of cell service that magically appears each evening. But...tonight's it's been slower than usual (busy Friday, perhaps). So this will be brief, but at least I'll get a few photos up.

The highglights of the day were getting lost on the Italian side of Pommern. Yes, there's an Italian side where everyone speaks Hehe, Swahili, and a bit of Italian, so we know we're lost when the children shout "ciao" as we walk by. I also got to play medical practice dummy for Leesha who tested my blood for Malaria, which was negative. I'm also not pregnant, which is a relief.

Meeting with Edward at the Mission House, which has solar lights and a generator in the evening.

BUSTED! Eating protein bars when they didn't want to eat fish.

Madi has made a ton of new friends here in Pommern


Tanzania Mission, Day zzz...

It's been a week and we’re all so tired. Happy, but tired.

I worked in the CDC clinic today with Leesha, Madi, Haley, and Kassie. We pulled client records, refilled them, logged records, and measured, counted, and dispensed meds which we tucked into folded pieces of notebook paper in lieu of pill bottles. Lots of patients (100+) and then shelved and recorded all the meds we brought.

We also went with Edward to pay a visit to the widow of the young woman who died this week. It’s customary for everyone in the village to visit over many days, bringing small gifts of money, food, or firewood.

As far as work, everyone has his or her class assignments, plus Taylor is teaching music, Leesha is teaching the local med staff on the new med equipment we brought, and Madi was invited and visited the homes of four of the little girls she’s been playing with, which is a bit of an honor.

To end the day we met Edward at a “pub”…a cozy place in the heart of the village that serves beer, soda, and home brew, which we’ve been told to avoid. There are actually two pubs: the Quiet Pub for the old folks and the Noisy Pub for everyone else. A few of the kids tried light beer (called women’s beer) and watched DVDs of Muslim “coastal dance music” and Rhianna. On the way back Justin Bieber was playing on a battery-operated radio here in the heart of bush Tanzania proving that THERE IS NO ESCAPE!


Tanzania Mission, Day 3: It’s full of stars

Busy day.

Met with the Secretary General of the mission, who talked about his visits to the US and how everyone has everything and is so terribly unhappy. Reminded me of a Lewis CK bit. Too true.

We shopped in the Iringa market (where we ran into the Lutheran Bishop of the mission, as well as Mama Toni who runs the mission house).

We visited an Anglican mission from the UK that employees locals with physical handicaps to create arts and crafts, weave, make prints, clothing, and enjoy a life of opportunity instead of begging. The Anglican mission also ran a lovely espresso bar where the everyone (including a few expats) hang out on the veranda checking email.

Then it was a 55km, two-hour journey to Pommern. We made it just in time for a pick-up football game with some seven-year-old boys who are better at soccer than I’ll ever be, and caught our first Pommern sunset. We also wandered over to the mother/baby clinic and another clinic where the residents were happy but were shy to talk. We later realized that was the AIDs clinic.

Dinner. Meetings. Bed. Then Lucas woke up, throwing up at 3 AM. Bedroom shuffle, clean up, disinfect, pass out probiotics, and then I caught the sub-Saharan night sky, 500 miles away from the nearest light pollution. The sky was so bright I thought it was a full moon, but that was just the glow from the “milk” in the Milky Way. Even saw three shooting stars.

Now warming up next to the fire. As soon as I’m warm enough, back to sleep.



Tanzania Mission, Day 2: Things I learned today

Spider-man is alive and well on the road to Iringa.

Leaving the towns behind, today we head for the bush and Pommern.

1) When driving ten hours in a van with eleven people, no AC, and 500 lbs of medical supplies strapped to the roof, Bob Marley on cassette makes it a pleasure cruise.

2) While taking photos you should avoid men in uniform: police, military, traffic cops, etc. We crossed a hill and I was so enchanted by the view that I completely missed the police station on my left. (Special thanks to Mohammed for gently, but firmly, lowering my camera from view).

3) I could walk around naked, playing the bagpipes and not stand out any more than I already do. We drove for hours without seeing another European-looking face and then glimpsed two white women as we entered Iringa-town and my first thought was, “Holy cow, do we stand out THAT much?” Why yes. Yes we do. Even more so because once we left Dar es Salaam, we’ve been traveling through villages and towns where tourists don’t tend to go (unless they’re really lost). I did see two Chinese men, oddly enough, but they looked like transplanted workers of some kind.

4) Speaking of work, we passed a school for Tanzanian children donated and run by the Cuban government. There are several that were built in the 70s and still operate today as strange specters of geo-politics past.

5) Don’t steal. Yikes. We passed a hillside with 100+ people who had tied up a local thief and were waiting for the police to arrive.

6) But, I can understand why: poverty. We saw so much today that it’s hard to quantify, especially when mixed with foreign marketing. Think tiny thatch-roofed mud huts with newly minted Coke signs. Crass commercialism boggles the mind.

7) People without Starbucks still smile a lot.

(P.S. I'll have limited net access from here on out, but I'll catch up soon).