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A Heartfelt Welcome

Today was our first day of ‘work’ at the high school our team will be working alongside this week.  I say ‘work’ very loosely because you can hardly call being entertained by 120 talented students in song and dance,  a tea and mandazi(Tanzanian donut) break, 2 hours of sports, and then a delicious tanzanian lunch (rice, meat, unknown tasty red sauce, mboga, and crest soda) a day of work. 

     Going in we were told to expect a welcome that might include some singing.  Our team, apart from Beth and Michael who have already experienced this sort of hospitality, could not have expected such a warm and beautiful welcome.  The sound of the drums and children singing and dancing could never be given justice by anything I could say right now.  I can only write about the karibu (welcome) that they did show to us.   

       When it was our team’s turn to entertain, our presentation was a little less put together, to say the least.  We tried to pull off running and singing the SJU fight song (When the Hawk Comes Flying In) for our grand entrance to gym period.   Perhaps we could have have benefited from taking the same time practicing our one song Thursday through Monday mornings like the students had done to prepare for the 10 or so songs and skits the students had mastered for our visit.  Once we recovered from our pitiful entrance, we started out gym class with some stretches and then we were all off to the field.  We had three stations set up with football (American soccer), kickball, and capture the bandera (flag).  The students had the football down, as to be expected.  But it was a challenge trying to explain the other two games that the students had never played in a language they are still trying to learn.  It was frustrating at first, and we definitely got a workout, but it was worth it in the end.  We all learned from each other and I’m really looking forward to “working” with the students throughout the week.  Tomorrow we are going to get down to business and split up into 3 groups of Form One students –  the equivalent of our freshman high school students – and practice English.  We will be sure to let you know how it goes.

Thanks again for all of your continued support and prayers.  It is great to know that so many family, friends, and larger SJU community are able to share in this experience with us.

Amani, Cassie

Note:Computers and Internet are temperamental things, especially here, so my apologies for any grammar mistakes that might be present in this blog as now I’m too tired to re-edit.  I had proofed it a few times and then it got lost somewhere in cyberspace when the internet quit on me, so I’m not sure which changes saved!



Yesterday, we went on a Safari. All ten of us entered the park and mounted the elephants waiting to take us around  for the day. Unfortunately, only nine elephants were standing there, so Matt willingly jumped on a friendly, aged warthog and off we went to see some Tanzanian wildlife.

Actually, our source of transportation wasn’t as stylish nor as sturdy. We picked up a man named Simon. He was dressed in what looked like Safari gear, so we presumed he knew what was going on. However, once he took us passed the “No Trespassing” sign (true), we got a little weary. As it turns out, he was a well-respected, paid employee who has worked at the park for fifteen years. Simon could spot anything. He tried to convince us of a herd of zebras way off in the distance, naked to the untrained, normal person’s eye.

We were able to get out of the Dala Dala, made in circa 1953 – no really, it was really old, but we’ll get into that more later. Our adventure really started with a nice, mild-mannered giraffe standing a mere few feet from the road. 

Let me just interupt our entry right now to say that Matt just inadvertedly turned off the computer.  Luckily, this thing has autosave.  And fortunately Matt had a good story to make us feel better.  Just so you know, dear reader, the button on top of the tower of this 20-year-old computer controls the power.

So back to our day. Next we saw a herd of zebras waiting for their closeups, a bird that only Simon could spot, and a few smug baboons crossing our path.  Simon allowed us to stop at a manmade hippo pool. Rumor has it that hippos are one of the most dangerous animals on earth, but he still encouraged us to get as close as possible.  We also spotted a crocodile just chilling directly across from us, sneakily blending into his surroundings.

Then there were the elephants. Giant, monsterous beasts gathered by the side of the road.  Who knew they would so eagerly get so close to our car. At first there was only one on our right, then there were three more to our left, including a cute “little” baby elephant.  As we looked behind us, we could see the first elephant crossing the road to join the others.  And so we were left to ask ourselves, why did the elephant cross the road? We leave that answer up to you, reader.

The Dala Dala (with its driver and his sidekick) had seen a lot that day. It drove us from the place where we are staying to the park, over an hour each way.  Not to mention the earth it plowed through – and over and under and around.  The Dala had a rough day to say the least.  So it wasn’t a surprise that after we drove right through a gas station after lunch, the Dala came to a complete stop about 16 miles outside of Morogoro.  As it turns out, the Dalas need gas to run, and we probably should have encouraged them to fill the tank completely.

So there we were on the side of the road (the left side, mind you).  Some of us had to pee, some of us were tired, but all of us could have used to break from the Dala seats that caused more pain than comfort.  The sidekick was a good sport though and jumped onto the first bus going into town.  Ironically, as we passed time of the side of the road telling stories, sleeping, or climbing trees (Matt and Michael), not one but three petroleum trucks passed us. Only an hour later though the sidekick returned, this time on a truck, with a nice container holding a couple liters of gas.  This, however, only got us a few miles, where a nice man hopped off the back of a bike and was waiting for us with another container of gas.  All this, and we returned in time for dinner.  (Which was good news because we went out for some fancy eats with the pleasant company of the Salvatorians who are allowing us to stay here.)

Alena and Jenn


Hello all,

Here in Tanzania we have had the fortunate opportunity to use buckets in several of the ways the locals use them. We tried balancing them on our heads…but failed. So we decided to do our laundry with them instead. 

Since most of you have never washed an entire load of laundry by hand we decided to provide you with the steps if you wanted to try it at home.

Step 1: Fill a large bucket with hot water.

Step 2: Dump in 3-4 dirty articles of clothing.

Step 3: Dump in one handful of “foma.”

Step 4: Let sit for 15-20 minutes.

Step 5: Select a piece of an article of clothing (e.g. sleeve) and rub bar soap on it.

Step 6: Rub two sides of the sleeve together with great force.

Step 7: Dip in the water.

Step 8: Again, rub two sides of the sleeve together with great force.

Step 9: Repeat steps 6-8 approx 5-6 times then move on to the next part of the article of clothing (e.g. pit of the shirt) and repeat until entire piece is clean.

Step 10: Take recently soaped shirt and place into bucket of cold water to sit.

Step 11: After 10 minutes or so, rub pieces of the shirt together to remove the soap.

Step 12: Dip in water and continue rubbing until all soap is removed.

Step 13: Ring out shirt and place in dry bucket.

Step 14: Bring clothes to the clothesline. Hang clothes for a day to dry (except jeans which need about two days).

Step 15: Repeat for all other articles of clothing in your laundry load.

Those are the 15 easy steps to cleaning one’s clothes with a bucket. It only takes about four hours to wash (a small load) and about 30 hours to dry!

We have come to appreciate the invention of the conventional washer and dryer.

For those who are curious one can also use a bucket to take a shower, which we all got to do while in Dar es Salaam.



A Better Picture

Here is a little eye candy for our dedicated readers since we are feeling exhausted from our 6 hour hike up the Uluguru mountain and would not be able to write the quality blog entry you have come to enjoy.  After a rough start getting the necessary passes and such, Martin, our fearless guide, led us up the Morning Side trail.  It was absolutely breathtaking, both physically and aesthetically.  We had a perfect end to our day in nature with a spirituality discussion. But more to come about the hike and tomorrow’s Safari…Goodnight, dear readers. Or, perhaps, good day.

Rapid Fire


Today we visited the Mgolo sistes’ development again after being picked up by our dala dala around 9. Once we arrived, we split into 2 goups of 5; one group went to work with the elderly and the other with orphans, from infants up to about 4 years or 5 years old. The children I was blessed to spend time with today were incredible. We got to meet some of them yesterday during their lunch time. One boy, whose name I learned today was Ananiya immediatly called me “babu” or grandfather. Today, as soon as I reached the top of the stairs across the courtyard from the children, Ananiya began calling out “Babu! Babu!” After settling down our bags, we went across to the children who greeted us with huge smiles. Ananiya ran straight toward me, wrapping his arms around my leg. From then on he and O were practically inseperable. He held onto my thumbs and climed up me, we chased each other around the courtyard, we spun around together, I tickled him until he dropped to the floor, and he used my legs as a slide. When the children were called in to class, Michael and I sat in the courtyard for a couple minutes. He told me that one of the children had asked Ananiya in Swahili if it was okay to go over by me to which Ananiya replied ” He is our grandfather”.

In class, we got to do puzzles with the children, draw on small chalkboards, practice numbers and build with legos. Right after class we helped the children with lunch. I sat next to Ananiya, who had returned from the kitchen with a bowl of food. I tried to get him to start eating, but he just made faces at me. Once everyone had their bowls, I realized why. Maria, a little girl, of no more than 5 years, placed her bown on the table and walked to the head of the table where she recided a prayer one line at a time, allowing all the others to repeat after her. After the closing sign of the cross, Maria returned to her seat and lunch began. Three bowlfuls later, Ananiya was the last ti finish lunch and join the others for their nap, which was our time to say goodbye. Although I immensly miss being “uncle” to my niece and nephews back home, it was great to be “babu” for a day. 


Pasada revisited

…Continued from Friday, July 6

Sorry we left you hanging before! We weren’t able to finish our reflection from our visit to PASADA (the comprehensive AIDS center in Dar es Salaam). We split up into three groups to accompany the Home Based Care nurses and volunteers on their visits to wagonjwa (those who are sick). Many people we visited were suffering HIV/AIDS, TB, and resulting opportunistic infections. Here are some of our stories…

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O Brother, Why Art Thou Here?

ayubu.jpgThe question “Why are we here?” was a simple one posed today by a 70-year-old religious Brother (Donald) born and raised in Brooklyn, NY who has lived in Tanzania for the past 49 years. Still emblazoning his Brooklyn bravado as if he had just moved away last month, he made me, and the others in our band of Hawks, think about the deeper meanings behind the inquisition.

The answers vary immensely from person to person and, for the most part, are a virtual work in progress. One of the most honest answers from one of the students was “I really don’t know why I’m here!” It’s not that we haven’t thought about this trip every day for the past 10 months (and as some will say, for theire entire lives), it’s just that we are all trying to keep a very open mind as to what we are experiencing out here in East Africa and I truly believe that we may not necessarily “figure it out” during our 3 weeks’ time here.

Continue reading ‘O Brother, Why Art Thou Here?’