"Singing don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing is going to be all right… don't worry about a thing cause every little is gonna be alight!"
In all honesty, I woke Sunday morning with melancholy consuming my mind, body and spirit.
All that I could feel.
Upon waking, my body drenched in sweat, my sheets as if they had just been washed.
A morning routine, bucket showering, getting dressed, pulling back my hair and adventuring out for the day.
I did this all as I usually do, but something was missing, something just didn't seem right.
Solo, I walked up to hill to Kilindoni from Harbor View Hotel where the Mafia Island teaching team stayed the entire weekend.
One half of the group was on a boat exploring the Indian Ocean for whale sharks, the largest fish in the sea.
While the remaining four did their own things.
Got to the top of the hill, opened my book.
The Road of Lost Innocence. Somaly Mam.
What a great honor to have met this woman several months back and documented her speaking event in Pasadena, California.
Her words are painful.
Her words are so vivid.
With each line, I feel her pain. I breathe her pain. I clenched my book a little tighter as each page describes
rape upon rape upon beating upon beating.
This was her life, her youth, her reality.
Oh, how I just want to hold her.
I sat outside the internet cafe intrigued by Somaly's story awaiting the doors to open.
It was then breakfast time, melancholy still filled my body and even more so,
my mind was stuck of the idea of rape.
This idea of her reality.
I got lost walking back to the hotel and found myself protected by the forest of Mafia Island.
A tiny creature amongst all the forest, all the greenery.
I walked a bit further as I knew I had made a wrong turn, but I was just too intrigued to go back.
Eventually, I turned around.
And went back to where I needed to be going.
Breakfast was had and back up to town it was.
Back to the internet cafe to handle some business.
The power of the internet.
I logged into Facebook and the first thing I saw was a photo of dear Kima Lou and myself back in the 6th grade.
The 6th grade.
Oh the years of memories. The happiness that filled my body and of course the tears that filled my eyes.
The melancholy had subsided and a sense of comfort filled my being.
How incredibly blessed I am to have the uniquely divine souls in my life!
There is nothing to worry about.
Nothing at all.
Every little thing will always be all right.
I spent this past weekend with my fellow international and local volunteers alongside the local teachers discussing the in's and out's of the six week intensive English course we are teaching in secondary schools throughout Mafia Island.
What works? What doesn't work? What needs improvement? Are we teaching what we're supposed to be teaching? How much longer should volunteers be here? What needs to continue for this program to successfully expand and impact the community? Who does this program ultimately belong to? And on and on.
These were some of the most effectively constructive conversations.
So many new ideas, way to solves situations in which aren't fully working.
Brainstorming on how to make this program that much better in the years to come.
The program is on its third year here on Mafia Island and on its first for the Kilwa district on mainland Tanzania.
The statistics are startling.
The effectiveness of this program is beyond belief.
The year prior to the launch of this program(2010), out of 135 Form I students,
only 9 students passed their English exams.
That is only 9 students out of 135 students.
Just a little over 6% of the students pass their exams. SIX PERCENT.
The year after this program was implemented, out of 145 From I students,
103 passed their English exams with only 42 students failing.
103 out of 145 students passed their exams after the implementation of this program.
The numbers jumped from 6% to just over 71%.
After six weeks of an intensive English course from native English speakers along with local Tanzanian teachers fluent in English, look at the results.
Look at the difference this program is making.
Our program sparks a newfound self confidence in these young minds.
In brings about a whole diversity in culture to these rural island communities.
Although we are only here for six weeks teaching the English course, studies have shown that once you get a language platform, that platform stays with you.
The English knowledge we teach, sticks with them, it may not always be used, but it does not disappear!
If those numbers aren't inspiration in itself, I don't know what is.
I walked away from the Friday evening and Saturday morning meetings with a whole new perspective, a whole new feel and understanding of this program.
Anne, known as MamaChole on the island has implemented something extremely drastic, something that is honestly changing the structure and effectiveness of the education system on Mafia Island.
It is the goal to have this program expand all throughout Tanzania.
And I know, one day in the very near future, it will be.
It will be in the hands of the schools themselves.
The possibilities are endless.
The inspiration at it's finest.
And hope beyond imaginable.
Thanks to the dedicated government officials, heads of school, local teachers, local volunteers, international volunteers, donors and so many people in-between, Mafia Island is witnessing something so new, a drastic shift in the education of their environment, in their country.
Again, the power of community and what they can accomplish when working tougher towards a common goal, towards improvement for their community.
Purely exhausted from my weekend discussing all topics just mentioned, after our Sunday lunch, Seif, Patrick and myself anxiously jumped into the government truck.
We pulled up to my school, I jumped out of the bed of the truck, put on my backpack and turned around.
As I turned around, I hear "Ashley, Ashley" with two of the neighborhood boys running towards me
with their arms open ready for a big hug.
I picked up one, squeeze him tightly.
Put him down and then did the same for the next.
Seif and I then walked to MamaDixon's house where everyone was cheering "Ashley, Ashley, Seif, Seif"
and they ran up giving us HUGE hugs again and again.
This is my new family.
This is my new home.
This is my new community.
I missed my "home" and "Tanzanian family" dearly this past weekend.
This is beyond amazing.
My family has grown.
My community has grown.
Oh, how my world has expanded.
Below are some of my favorite photos from this weekends adventures!
Photos are a combination of where I stayed this weekend -- the water tower outside my room.
Then photos from our Saturday meeting and all the other volunteers and local teachers.
As always please enjoy these images and receive all the love I am sending along with each and every one!
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.