by Catherine Gauthier, Greenheart Travel Volunteer in Tanzania
Another busy week has gone by, and I have become more accustomed to my life and work here in Tanzania. I have also been exposed to more aspects of the peoples’ lifestyle and culture.
At the orphanage, the children learned my ways of teaching just as I have learned their ways of learning. Together, we established a compensation method by which they participate and behave in the lesson, and I grant then free time to play afterward. We have enjoyed games such as making paperclip necklaces, hopscotch, jump-roping, and coloring paper over leaves to see them appear. The children love to take photos; they hold up their drawings or stand on a big rock and say, “Madame! Take picture! Me too!” They argue over who will sit on my lap or hold my hand, and when I tuck them into bed at night, I say, “Kesho, ma copenda!” (This means “tomorrow, I love you!”)
During my time away from the orphanage, I have met with a few other volunteers in the area. We share the stories and experiences from our days at work. I have begun to recognize familiar faces on my daily walks, and one child who was playing by the side of the road even called out my name as I passed.
The chores of daily life in Tanzania are different and much more strenuous than those in America. I have washed my clothes outside in a series of buckets; I must clean my body and wash my hair with a bucket and pail in the shower-less bathroom; I cover my bed with a mosquito net every night; electricity is inconsistent throughout the days, and the stoves have to be lit with matches at every meal.
When some of the orphaned children were sick with feverish colds earlier this week, we took then to the local government hospital. It’s half-open walls and outdoor benches for waiting do not compare to the comfortable, air-conditioned rooms with sofa chairs and televisions and the clean beds and sanitary supplies that American hospitals offer.
Despite the poverty and limited resources, the people strive to maintain courage and benevolence. The women sell their mananas and avocados on the side of the road every day without fail, and the men carry heavy wheelbarrows of long dried grass with strength. Their hard work should serve as an example to those of us who complain about our slow commutes to work our the inconvenience of grocery shopping. I am walking in the shoes of the Tanzanian people. More than ever, I am appreciating the life that I have back home.