Arusha Project

A Rainy Day at Nelito
August 21, 2007, 8:13 am
Filed under: Abroad Program, Uncategorized

It’s raining, it has been for a couple days. The roads are slippery mud, sometimes deep, sometimes a little more mellow. Yesterday, three volunteers, Tamara, Nicole and Ellen, walked a quick ten minutes from our house to their volunteer placement, Nelito primary school and were greeted by no more than 15 kids, a contrast to the usual 60 plus. No one seemed inclined to brave the rain or the walk in it. Granted the supply of rain gear here, especially to children that can’t afford to pay school fees, must be quite low, and apparently the world partially stops here when it rains, at least in the smaller communities. Teacher Rose even said she didn’t expect the volunteers to show up because of the rain. But they did, and they thought it was nice to spend a little more one on one time with the few kids that showed up.


When I got to the front door, around mid-morning, the children started singing some kids tunes that Rose has taught them.

“Mama, mama, mama
Mama is a chicken
Cooking chapatti
Chapatti yum yum
Chapatti yum yum…”

The few children shout out the songs, obviously enjoying themselves before they set down to the serious business of learning how to write letters. On blank workbooks, donated by some individuals at the Arusha Project, the children begin to write the letter ‘e’. Some are quite adept, but some aren’t so fortunate, and struggle with the every curve of the letter. One girl with would write a ‘Q’ for every different letter and number we asked her to attempt and then look up at you with her big beautiful eyes and a tentative smile, searching for approval and maybe a big star on her workbook. No matter how many times she was told, “Andika, hivi, hapa,” (write like this, here) it just didn’t go through. There were a few other kids like that, individuals that the volunteers and Rose would take individually and patiently help them trace out letters to understand the movement of a hand on paper.

Rose is a woman who, close to the time we arrived in country three months ago, came knocking on our gate pronouncing her qualifications as a teacher and asking for a job. With no position to offer her, Valerie mentioned a new school in the area, Nelito. Now she’s one of two women that teach the 60 children enrolled in the school. She’s a good teacher and a very kind individual.

The other day, Rose and the leaders of Nelito visited us at our house bringing armfuls of gifts for the Arusha Project staff just as a token of gratitude for our partnership with them (right now we have three volunteers working at the Nelito school and they also were the recipients of a loan with which they have expanded their income generating chicken project). Last week Cheryl and I also went to visit Rukia (the founder of Nelito) at her house, a short walk away. We arrived to humble house filled with her family and a table full of delicious food. “We are more than friends now,” Rukia kindly remarked. “We are family and it’s a gift for me that you to come to my home.”

The hospitality and generosity of the members of Nelito is incredible, especially coming from individuals that don’t have that much to give. It’s really a window into the culture here. Once you are family, you are treated as such, not in an obligatory fashion, but with a genuine sense of selfless sharing.



1 Comment so far
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heyz, i like nelito. its a very helpfull organisation for the kids from poor families and widows plus HIV+ people. rukia is working very hard to achieve nelito goals.
much love. keep it up,

Comment by fridah

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