Arusha Project


First Program of Summer ’08 gets started
July 4, 2008, 8:55 am
Filed under: Abroad Program

The end of the first week of program one is coming to an end, and what an eventful week it has been. The 17 volunteers started their placements on Monday with eight different partner organizations. On Monday night we were able to participate with one of our partner organizations, Hatuchoki, who preformed a spectacular fireside dance routine.

Members of Hatuchoki preforming a dance routine on Monday night

Members of Hatuchoki preforming a dance routine on Monday night

On Thursday we visited Hatuchoki, where we were given a tour of their classrooms and office.

Valerie and some of the Volunteers meeting the Children of Hatuchoki

Valerie and some of the Volunteers meeting the Children of Hatuchoki

We had a remembrance for founder Tom Kimoto who died in February, it was emotional for those of us that had known Tom and for those who had not but had heard stories of what a wonderful person he was. Hatuchoki has on its property a wonderful waterfall which we hiked down to, a few of the volunteers were even brave enough to take a dip in the less then warm water. We were then invited into a traditional hut were we were served several courses of traditional Meru tribal food including yams, corn and milk, and according to some volunteers the best coffee they have ever had.

Members of Hatuckoki and the Arusha Project enjoying the beautiful scenery

Members of Hatuckoki and the Arusha Project enjoying the beautiful scenery

Just as the volunteers think they are settling into a routine we throw something new and exciting into their paths. There is almost never a dull moment or an unfulfilling day.

Below you can read some of the volunteer’s blog entries from their first week at placement.

Janice is placed at St. Lucia. The organization has an orphanage that serves 20 HIV+ children and 2 hospice care patients. They also assist the community in home-bound care for the infected.

July 2nd – Today at St. Lucia the nurse took me and Minh for home care visits. The first home was a huge shock, as we approached this mud hut and crouched to enter the smell of the small house fire filled my nose. The four of us sat down on the bed, a chair and a wooden box. The nurse began to ask the mother of four children to tell us her story. She told us how her husband had disappeared while she was pregnant with her last child. Even with the language barrier the emotion behind her eyes was the most descriptive explanation I needed. The last home even smaller then the one we had just left and the mother told us how she could not make enough money to pay rent for the past three months, because some days she would be to sick to work. She told us of her abusive alcoholic husband and how her to oldest children had become street kids. She had broken into tears, there was so much pain embedded in her face but also so much strength. The tears also began to accumulate in my eyes. With all this emotion it was good to know that us just being there and listing to these women was a comfort to them.

Amanda is placed at Seventh Day Baptist Church which runs the Oasis of Hope for Orphans. The program cares for 64 children orphaned by HIV/AIDS or by abandonment and offers a comprehensive primary school with subjects of: math, English, art, science, and physical education.

July 4th – Wow! So people told me this was going to be a life changing experience, and I agreed with them, but never in a million years would I understand exactly what that meant until I actually experienced life here. Everyone is so beautiful and genuine. The country is so lush and green beyond what I expected. All the other volunteers are absolutely amazing. I made an instant group of friends, and you can tell that we all are here because we have a longing to help others.

When Melissa and I got settled at our placement, things with the children just began to happen naturally. It is so wonderful to be told by the teachers that the children look forward to seeing us every morning. They come running up to us yelling “Teacher, Teacher”, wanting us to play jump rope with them or to praise them for a job well done, and there are certain students who latch onto you from day one, wanting to hold your hand all the time and look up at you with a huge smile on their faces. They are all so amazing an unique, at the end of the day when we receive a hand shake from the pastor for a job well done, I know that we are making a difference in their lives.

The time with the other volunteers has been priceless. Riding in the Dala Dala, dancing around the fire with all the wonderful people from Hatuchoki, hiking to a waterfall and eating traditional Tanzanian food, the list of moments is endless.

This trip is more than I could have ever imagined and it has only been 5 days so far. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Crystal is placed at Hatuchoki. Hatuchoki believes that the arts are the embodiment of the soul of a culture. Its activities emphasize not only the creation and performance of art, but arts education for the children enrolled in the organization’s primary and secondary school. Hatuchoki also shares the belief that the physical and educational welfare of a community’s children is the responsibility and privilege of the entire community—that it takes a village.

June 2nd – To get to my placement Max and I take two Dala Dalas (the local bus system) to the Tenegeru market taking around 40min where we then walk/hike up to Singisi Village, this takes around 45 min. It is a difficult trek but it’s so beautiful. We pass by banana trees and coffee plants and pass over a stream. My first day I slipped and stumbled into the stream, I fill a little silly even though I have now been able to cross successfully because the village women cross with no problem carrying buckets and banana braches on their heads.

On my first day when I arrived at Hatuchoki I was extended a warm welcome by the staff. I was given a tour of the premises which consisted of 4 small rooms and an out house pit latrine. I taught preschool children numbers and counting, using body language to overcome the greater then expected language barrier. After lesions the other teachers and volunteers enjoyed a cup of home grown and brewed coffee, which is the best I have ever had. We helped with some cleaning then played with the children. They seem to have unlimited energy and know just how to tire you out. But I never get tired of their cheerful smiles and bashful laughter.

Some of the volunteers have created memories that will last forever.

June 3rd – Tanzania is incredibly. The people are so friendly, like no place I have been. No one gives saying “Hi” or asking how your day was a second thought. Everyone tries to engage in conversation even with the language barrier.

There are no words to explain the feelings that I get going on a run in the village and being surrounded by the local kids, running by my side trying to hold my hand.

Melissa K

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