Upon arriving on Mafia Island, tears filled my eyes more than usual as an overwhelming sense of joy consumed my emotions. WIthin a half hour of being on the island, the WorldTeach volunteers shook hands with government officials and heads of the Mafia Island education system.
At this moment, I realized how humbly appreciated and accepted we, the WorldTeach volunteers are to be here in these communities teaching the local children necessary English skills to advance through the Tanzanian education system and into the professional working society.
I have been in my new home for about two weeks now where my space consists of a quaint concrete walled room in a lovely local families home. I live with the second head master (like a vice-principal) Beta and his wife MamaRay and their son Raymond whom is 3 ½ years old and Sarah (MamaRay's younger sister). Raymond fills my days with so much light and joy and we engage in multiple bonding moments consisting of very little words due to the language barrier and numerous laughs as I tickle and swing him around until he's dizzy and cannot laugh any longer. Most evenings after my run, Raymond awaits my return on the front porch, runs up to me for some swinging time and then says "picha!" I come inside, grab my camera and Raymond and I take a walk around the neighborhood taking pictures and videos, many of which include Raymond's adorable face.
My weeks are filled with teaching English lessons Monday through Friday with a stream of 50 Form I students ranging from 12 to 18 years old. The large age range of students is due to the societal expectations of young boys and girls as they have roles of bringing in money for the family and doing household chores all the while being a kid and needing an education. As of now, there are two streams and each week we rotate them. This past week I had stream I and Seif had stream II and this coming week I will have steam II and Seif will have stream I. This gives the students an opportunity to get multiple accents and teaching styles while learning English. Throughout the day, many moments are absolutely salama (peaceful) and a smile doesn't leave my face, while other moments are a bit frustrating and exhausting as the language barrier makes it hard to say all that I want to these young minds to tell them how much I truly care and want to help them learn in the best way possible.
At the end of the teaching day, I remind myself, that words are not always needed…
it is my actions, my energy, my nonverbal communication, me being here and sending out the caring vibes that truly matters!
My school is a less than a two minute walk from my doorstep as the teachers live next to the schools. I walk along the dirt path to MamaDixon's house for morning chai and lessons preparations for the day.
After school, Seif and I walk to MamaDixon's house where we eat a deliciously cooked meal by our local chief, Milka (MamaDixon's younger sister). Lunch usually consists of wali (rice), mboga mboga (vegetables), maharage (beans) and some kind of fruit. Every afternoon, we prepare our menu for the following days meals as one day I choose the meals and the following day Seif selects the meals. Chai ya asubuhi (breakfast) is my favorite meal here as its made of either andazi (a glazed biscuit) or chapati (a tortilla like bread), mayai (eggs), peanut butter, chai (tea), kahawa ya rangi (black coffee), embe (mango) and ndizi (banana).
Every evening around sunset, I take a run around my neighborhood and school enabling me to reflect on the events of the day all the while physically and mentally regenerating and preparing for that which is. Runs are followed by bucket showers, yes, it is literally a bucket of cold water with a cup to pour the water over you.
Each bucket shower becomes more and more mediative.
After these events throughout the day, the evening consists of some downtime, hanging out with Raymond, the family, my neighbors, reading, writing, playing games, listening to music, talking or just sitting in the dark of the porch taking in the beautiful night sky and melodies of the environment.
Throughout these past couple weeks, the words "community" and "neighbors" have taken on whole new meanings. I've been invited into so many people homes, just to sit in their living room saying all but a few words to each other then just enjoying being in the company of one another. The community truly works together, helping each family, getting supplies for one another, looking after the neighborhood kids, etc.
There is a hamna shida (no problem) way of life here, where people seem to be accepted for who they truly are and not by what they do or what possessions they own.
The pace of life is very slow and people spend all day just being in the company of others,
smiling, sharing laughs and stories.
Planning ahead of time is pretty much a foreign concept, people just go with the moment, focusing on what is happening in front of them and being completely satisfied.
Below are some photos of the above described events that occur throughout my days.
Thanks so much for all the love and support.
My days are filled with so much joy when I read your comments about my adventures.
Sending lots of love.
Above, my house with MamaRaymond and Raymond sitting on the front porch.
Above, my bedroom. The drawings where there before I moved in.
Jambo from Tanzania:
Living & Teaching abroad in Mafia Island, Tanzania
In June of 2012.... a dream came true.
I was accepted into a WorldTeach program to teach English in Tanzania on Mafia Island. In late December of 2012, I embarked on a 3 month journey to the motherland! Enjoy this blog as it was designed to share my photographs and adventures while living and teaching
on Mafia Island, Tanzania.