Oh the Places We Can GO

“Congratulations, today is your day. You’re off to Great Places, you’re off and away!”

Two years and two months ago this Dr. Suess quote rang loud and clear as Luke and I left our home, family and friends. We were congratulated and supported and we began on our way…we were off to A Great Place, a place far and away.

But no matter how far we went YOU stayed near. You read our blog, left encouraging comments and sent mind-blowing packages. And each time we read, saw or received one of these gifts we were encouraged to take another step, survive another day and to just BE in our country of service; Tanzania.

There were many times when the “streets were not marked. Some windows were lighted, but mostly were darked. A place we could sprain both elbow and chin!” and we thought “do we dare stay out? Do we dare go in? How much can we lose? How much can we win?”

But luckily our “host country nationals” (what we called Tanzanians before they became our family, our friends and our neighbors) were there to support us. They were our teachers and our parents; they taught us to speak, cook, start a fire, use a “jembe” (hoe), carry water and kill snakes. We dared to go in and they opened the door.

“Oh the places we went! There was fun to be done and points to be won. We were famous as famous could be, with the whole village watching us with glee.”

While there, in Tanzania, we did some great things: built wells, supported education and connected resources. But the biggest points to be scored were the relationships built and the lessons learned. These which I do not want to forget—

  1. Control— a thing worth having but not worth fighting for; when you stop trying to get it you can finally relax and work on more important issues
  2. Judgment— whether a good judgment or bad, you are usually wrong; give each being a moment to show themselves before a verdict is set
  3. Relationships— are the foundation of living; good or bad, they are what each life revolves around and in every corner of the world; they connect us; we are all the same that way
  4. Community— try to make yours better, a lot of people don’t but a few make all the difference
  5. Purpose— is what starts every day out right; without it you could spend all day confused
  6. Simplicity— when there is only one food to eat, one drink to drink and one shirt to wear your brain has more capacity for much cooler things to think
  7. Gratitude— and when you finally get a different food to eat, have that different drink to drink and put on your fancy pants it is simply…AMAZING!

It is with a heavy heart that we say “good-bye” to our friends of Tanzania and “hello again” to our dear home.

But then again…We are off to Great Places, today is our day, our mountain is waiting and we best get on our Way!


Upon arrival at the Denver airport with our pup and all!


Auzi, our Tanzanian pup, made the long journey with us. And now he is very cold :)

Photo Update

Pulled some oldies off the camera and kama kawaida (like usual) a couple untold stories fell out too, along with Callie and Beth’s trip! Enjoy!

#1. Mystical Mbinga

A year ago I promised a village friend, Mama Beni, that I would accompany her to her home village in a near-by district (she moved to my village when her husband got a government job there). In May we finally did it.

This is the home we visited for three nights. Mbinga is a lush area known for coffee bean production. This house and every household grows coffee, most of the trees surrounding each house are actually coffee trees

This is the home we visited for three nights. Mbinga is a lush area known for coffee bean production. This house and every household grow coffee, most of the trees surrounding each house are actually coffee trees

This is Mama Beni. She took me on a hike in order to get the best view of the valley. Notice the mist rolling in from the left-- at one point we were in the cloud, on top of the cloud...did I mention she is 8  months pregnant on top of this   cliff with me?

This is Mama Beni. She took me on a hike in order to get the best view of the valley. Notice the mist rolling in from the left– at one point we were in the cloud, on top of the cloud…did I mention she is 8 months pregnant on top of this cliff with me?


Posing in front of her coffee trees


Surrounded by coffee trees

Hanging out on a rock. Mbinga has lots of rocks!

Hanging out on a rock. Mbinga has lots of rocks!


Her niece watching cassava dry

We have a friend, Ben, who lives in the region so I visited his house for an afternoon.

We have a friend, Ben, who lives in the region so I visited his house for an afternoon.

He made pork tacos and tortillas from scratch. Good food Ben!

He made pork tacos and tortillas from scratch. Good food Ben!

And here is the bed I shared with Mama Beni...yup

And here is the bed I shared with Mama Beni…yup

#2: Electrical School Update

Head teacher giving Callie and Beth the 411

Head teacher giving Callie and Beth the 4-1-1

Students in hard hats!

Students in hard hats!

Successful circuits

Successful circuits

#3: Callie and Beth (Luke’s mom and sister) Spend Some Time Exploring the Village

*Most of these photos are courtesy of Callie. Thanks for exploring the village with us, Callie and Beth, and for capturing the little moments that we overlook most days. We had so much fun re-exploring our village through your eyes!

Everyone lending a hand in laundry services. Ester on the right is my right-hand everything. She would not let us do laundry without her, somehow the site of three wazungu (westerners) doing laundry without help was too much for Ms. Ester and she had to jump in.

Everyone lending a hand in laundry services. Ester on the right is my right-hand everything. She would not let us do laundry without her, somehow the site of three wazungu (westerners) doing laundry without help was too much and she had to jump in.

Beth and Ester having a laundry kinda moment

Beth and Ester having a laundry kind-of-moment

Dog chores

Dog chores


Cooking dinner

Ester bringing water

Ester bringing water

Row of Papaya tress at the convent up the road from our vill.

Row of Papaya tress at the convent up the road from our vill.

Brick maken time of year. No rain please.

Brick maken time of year. No rain please.

Callie learning about how we filter water. Two buckets and two ceramic candles/filters=safe water

Callie learning about how we filter water. Two buckets and two ceramic candles/filters=tasty, safe water!

We burn trash. This is how we burn trash. Try it sometime...you will make less trash.

We burn trash. This is how we burn trash. Try it sometime…you will make less trash.

Ester wippin up some mad hot sauce. This girl can cook me out of the kitchen.

Ester wippin up some mad hot sauce. This girl can cook me out of the kitchen.

Trying out the new water pump. Two thumbs up for clean water.

Trying out the new water pump. Two thumbs up for clean water.

Everyone following bibi karanga (peanut grandma) to her garden to harvest some greens for dinner.

Everyone following bibi karanga (peanut grandma) to her garden to harvest some greens for dinner.

Bibi karanga telling us how to harvest properly

Bibi karanga telling us how to harvest properly

Beautiful gardens

Beautiful gardens 

It is hard to imagine a more colorful life than the one we live now. Here is to hoping we can keep the color, the purpose and the energy once we leave. These memories will help :)


A Sili Story

Many may know that I am currently stateside in Kansas visiting my beautifully pregnant sister and hoping to catch a glimpse of the new family member before I jet-set back to Tanzania, at the end of the week, to wrap up life and work. Luke is hunkered down at home/the village making sure our life, work and most importantly the dog continue to thrive (thank you Luke!).

With ample electricity, never ending wifi and the quietness of American life (zero neighbors knocking on my door to “visit”) there is no better time to reflect, work and well…tell y’all more stories.

Today: The Story of Sili

I am sure I have mentioned Sili (short for Silvanusi) once or twice in my blogs before. If not, here is a summary: Sili is the kid next door; the kid that brought us our first banana tree; the kid that lends a hand; the kid that got a dog, convinced us to get a dog, and cares for our dog when we are out of town; the kid that farms all morning then comes to my house for morning oatmeal and chai; the kid that is, well…partly our kid for now and probably forever.

With our help and Sili’s dedication to life improvement, he started car mechanic school in April. Two months before that, he sat with me twice a day to read 4th-grade level Swahili books to improve his reading and writing. I guess it is important to mention that Sili is 16, finished the equivalent of 5th grade but actually has the reading and writing skills of a 3rd grader.

In April he packed up his possessions (I think a t-shirt and pants), gave his mom a hug and got on a bus with me to head to town for school (an hour and a half from the village). His brother who lives in town took him in and promised to feed and shelter Sili as we would pay for school fees, supplies and small incidentals.

While we knew going to school in the city was what Sili wanted and we had all worked hard to get him there, it was hard. Hard to take a kid from the only home he ever knew and leave him in a strange place. I had fears, he had fears.

In the months between April and now, Sili has learned a lot. He reads and writes better than I could imagine, he speaks enthusiastically about car parts and break systems. He asks me to google pictures of car parts when I am in town so he can explain them to me (he knows what google is now). But it has also been hard.

The worst incident occurred in July when Sili fell ill. First, a bad tooth. He had it pulled but with no pain meds or anything!? He was traumatized. No one was there to help…

A week later, Malaria. Malaria is totally common and not a deadly disease when treated early, but Sili is a 16 year old boy remember. On the day it got the worst and Sili had little energy to move he calls and asks for my advice. “Well, Sili, you need to get your butt to the clinic and get some medicine.” A friend of mine in town took him to the clinic, got him all set up with proper meds and some lunch, Sili went home to sleep.

An hour later I started receiving the strangest texts from Sili…they all had something to do with death. “Sam, I am so hot but so cold, I can’t stop trembling. I think death is better. How can I die?” I thought he was just being a little over dramatic, so I called. On his end all I heard was the ghost of a human, someone so exhausted that life truly seamed to have left. I was terrified.

I really had no idea what type of pain malaria causes till I heard the absence of his words and spirit. Then a couple weeks ago, I came across a passage in a memoir written in Africa. The passage below helped me feel the pain which I could not imagine and his texts finally made sense.

“The attack arrives quickly, sometimes quite abruptly, with few preliminaries. It is a sudden, violent onset of cold. A polar, arctic cold. Someone has taken you, naked, toasted in the hellish heat of the Sahel and the Sahara, and thrown you straight into the icy highlands of Greenland or Spitsbergen, amid the snows, winds and blizzards…You begin to tremble, to quake, to thrash about.

The malaria attack in not merely painful, but like every pain also a mystical experience. We enter a realm about which a moment ago we knew nothing, though it now turns out that it had existed alongside us all the while, finally capturing and incorporating us: we discover within ourselves icy crevasses, chasms, and abysses, whose presence fills us with the suffering and fear. But this moment of discovery, too, passes, the spirits desert us, depart, and disappear, and that which remains, under the mountain of the most bizarre coverings, is truly pitiful.

A man right after a strong attack of malaria is a human rag. He lies in a puddle of sweat, he is still feverish, and he can move neither hand nor foot. Everything hurts; he is dizzy and nauseous. He is exhausted, weak, limp. Carried by someone else, he gives the impression of having no bones or muscles.”

Did Sili survive? Absolutely! How, I don’t really know–it seemed he had taken the medicine too late. But he did, and two hours after the worst of it, he called with spirit and strength in his voice to tell me he wanted food. Typical boy :)

This story is just a snapshot into our relationship with Sili. Sometimes are stressful but generally he trucks along nicely. Right now he is “interning” at a car garage learning the ropes first hand. He calls every morning to assure me that he is on his way to work and when he gets there and then at lunch…he feels good having a purpose and it feels good helping him find that purpose.

Not sure how we will get along without each other, the three of us, after we leave. But I know we will. And who knows maybe Sili has a little America in his future…?


Electrical School: Off to a Great Start!

As many of you know we recently opened a brand new trade school for the village, an electrical trade school to be exact, which was made possible from the charitable donations from all our friends and family. You know who you are, we know who you are (Peace Corps gave us the list :) ) and thanks to you, 11 eager and extremely capable young people now have the opportunity for a career path and a future out of poverty. We enrolled 11 students to begin with (planned on 10 but had MANY applications, so we took 11). The students range in age from 16-26, we have 5 girls, three are mothers, 4 or 5 have completed the equivalent of high school and the rest have only an elementary education…and we are blessed to have them all! Our school is open for everyone, from all income levels to all education levels, mothers and older learners if they have the time.

We have been able to set tuition and fees at a reasonable price (1/4 of the cost of comparable schools in the area) because we have one awesome teacher/electrician who is volunteering his time to run this school and mentor these students 5 days out of the week, and for why….? Because he is amazing! He has a big heart and he has been given the opportunity to realize his own dream: open a school, be his own employer and help the youth in our village. The students mostly contribute raw food materials (beans and corn) for their meals and the rest of the fees are for recurring costs like chalk and paper, the salary of one cook and also a small portion that the teacher receives for his time. In the future we know that our teacher will be able to increase his own salary through enrolling more students (when he feels able) and from payments of electrical jobs that he and the students will take on as practical experience for the students and income for the school.

We have been open for about one month now and everything is progressing beautifully; I don’t even want to write how happy I am for fear that I will jinx our success…nothing has been this stress free and successful in our village yet…but “shhh” I didn’t just say that :)

Ok, now some updates with pictures

1) Here is a picture from the first day of official classes. Two students are missing from this photo, they arrived later.

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2) Here are the students being blessed by the village father on the first day of classes (I guess this is normal)

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3) Here is a list of their daily attendance. I forgot to mention that the building being used for our school is an old Trade School run by the village primary school. It has not been occupied for years because the school lacks appropriate funding and students can’t afford the high fees. They were thrilled to learn about our private school and are offering the space for free until our head teacher has the resources to build his own school (his near future goal). The district education officer recently visited the secondary school and was beyond impressed with what we had started at the old trade school. This made us feel pretty special, in particular our teacher because this is really his project…we just helped him get there.

DSC_0166 - Copy4) Below is a picture of the students building the “kitchen” for the school’s cook before classes officially commenced.

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5) Here is Luke and our teacher Mr. Mgaya with a selection of some of the supplies bought for the school. My favorite part…the old calenders on the walls which he hung as decoration (seen in background). **Note to self, buy him a new calender!

DSC_0201 - Copy6) Lastly, a photo taken after buying all the school supplies. Crazy how some simple supplies (well not so simple electrical supplies, but you get it) and the time of one man, can make one idea a big force for change in the village.P1020019 - CopyI will leave it here, with more updates to come. I am teaching English twice a week at the school and can’t wait to bring you more stories of the first 11: Petronia, Maria, Maria, Augusta, Stanley, Ambrose, Gisbert, Franki, Johni, Jeffry and Adrianne.

I Minute to Remember the Chickens

Well I have gotten a little ahead of myself with this blog; too much time in the village working and not enough time in town to write about it all. So I would like to take a quick step back to highlight a successful chicken project which concluded in February/March before the new electrical school project came into swing.

February proved to be a bit of a struggle, in part because Luke had to hop on the quickest flight to the USA for a home emergency just as we were embarking on a new chicken initiative to purchase, vaccinate and distribute 300 village-bred chickens . But as usual we came through stronger, better and well, it worked out.

So why the 300 chickens? It was a continuation of the rural chicken rearing training we held in August. In short, 30 households showed impressive change in the way they were approaching chicken husbandry after the training so we wrote a Feed the Future grant through USAID and secured funding to help these households continue their progress.

The logistics of finding 300 village-bred chickens was a lot more of a headache than one could imagine (or maybe just more than I could imagine). Naturally you can’t just buy these chickens in mass quantity from a breeder…no…these are village-bred, meaning you have to find them one-by-one, house-by-house and to top it off we were only buying a certain age.

So this process took several weeks. We had our two local livestock officers and a helpful teacher leading this effort and everyday for two weeks they set out of their motorcycles, in the rain, to find us chickens. Another headache was where to put the chickens once collected. Someone thought it was a good idea to keep them at our house because we have a random chicken coop, so that is where they ended, and with Luke out of the country at this time it was me and the chickens.

I won’t bore you with all the logistics but just a couple key struggles:

1-Destruction by dog- dog destroying chicken coop on first day while I was at the neighbors.
2-Death by dog-coming home to the first 10-15 chickens hiding all over my courtyard and one dead, thanks Auzi!
3-Fast and furious chickens-catching those 10-15 chickens by hand…for three hours.
4-Excuses-counterparts complaining that they can’t find chickens and constantly need more money.
5-Chatty chickens-chickens screeching all day until miraculously at 6:45pm as the sun dips below the horizon they all shutup.
6-Loneliness and chickens-being under house arrest till chickens leave for fear my dog will begin another hunt.

Some pictures, ENJOY!


Chickens in a bucket


So happy to get chickens


Oh, wait, let us vaccinate those chickens


So many chickens in basket

The chicken killer himself. He has some great new beauty shots because Luke has a new hobby: dog photography.



Fundraising Goal Reached!

We are happy to provide such a quick update to our efforts to build an electrical school in our village. After only a week we have already met (and exceeded) our fundraising goal of $1,050 and actually raised $1,400!! Please do not try to donate more through the link in the previous blog entry, it will not be contributed to our project anymore.

This was made possible by the thoughtful donations of our friends and family and YOU! On behalf of the 12 students already selected as the first to enroll, THANK YOU!

We have not received the grant funds in-hand yet (it will take another week) but that has not stopped the team from moving full speed ahead. Below are pictures of myself, Luke and Mr. Mgaya (head teacher) painting a new blackboard for the classroom.



Returning the Favor: It Is Time to Give!

The theme, or conclusion of almost every post on this blog has been the overwhelming generosity of our Tanzanian community members and friends. Now we have a great chance to give them a gift in return as a part of a large project to commence an Electrical Technology Institute for the youth of our village.

Please follow this link provided by Peace Corps to learn more about the project and help us raise the funds needed to purchase the start-up supplies for this great new Institute. Keep reading below to learn about the wonderful person and planning behind this project.

So where did this project come from? It came from this man pictured below with Luke, Mr. Mgaya. He is our villages only trained electrician and he just so happens to have a heart of gold and mind determined to help his community.



One day, early in our relationship with Mgaya-before we knew him well, he began explaining to us his dreams for the future, which included starting an apprenticeship program to teach youth his trade, the electricians trade. In particular he wanted to train young girls and boys who have left traditional education paths early because of economic hardships, thus giving them a path for the future and a self-sustaining career beyond farming.

Luke and I immediately took interest in his idea and saw the benefits for the community. The biggest benefit being to the young men and women but additionally to the community as a whole. Electricity is expected to arrive in our village by this year’s end and with it the demand for trained electricians. Mgaya’s plan would create a path to supply the needed electricians (or at this point his apprentices) and the opportunity in the future for villagers to hire their own sons and daughters for these services instead of sourcing from far away cities and keeping profits local.

And so it was with his idea, his passion and the upcoming arrival of electricity that we sat down to make a plan. His original plan has morphed into a private institute led by him and a board of community members which will commence once funding for the needed materials (such as a generator, switches, cables, electrical tool, etc.) is collected. And this is where Luke and I came in to link our friends and family to this project. Luke and I will be with Mgaya every step-of-the-way to document his progress and help in anyway we can. After the project’s commencement we will be so eager to share the pictures and successes of Mgaya and his students. It really feels good to help a dream come true…so please help us make it happen. To do so click on the link mentioned above and think about offering a donation, all donations will help. Thank you!

When in Africa…travel!

Our blog as been a little MIA lately, and for that we apologize. But until now I have had little inspiration to write. However, we just finished an amazing 4 week vacation around the country and neighboring Zambia and an update is past due.

Service and life is going just fine. We have a lot of projects coming up this year and are very excited, however I will refrain from discussing them in fear that that they will not pan out exactly as planned. Updates will come as benchmarks are met and actions are actually implemented. For now we can discuss our amazing travels as of late.

2014 started off with a bang when Luke and I flew from our little city in the middle-of-no-where to Dar for the beginning of our vacation, an escape from village life for a while. First stop was Zanzibar; a beautiful island off the coast known for its ancient ruins, fields of worldly spices and long beaches. We stayed for 5 nights and did very little. We enjoyed the beaches, the down-time, and most of all we enjoyed blending in. Zanzibar is very touristy and we were just 2 of thousands of other white travelers-a nice retreat from the fish bowl that is normally our lives.

Here are some highlights from Zanzibar:

Flight! wow, first plane all year (2013) for me. What an amazing experience to fly over this beautiful country.

Sunrise on the beach.


Hanging out with my best friend!


Famous spice tour. Did you know vicks is made from the root of a cinnamon tree? Just one of the cool things we learned on this very educational tour. And they dressed us up in silly gifts made from the tree leaves.

P1010692 P1010688Second stop on the trip was Mafia Island, a.k.a “true paradise”. Mafia is a much smaller island south of Zanzibar. It is less economical for the thrifty traveler but it was our gift to each other for making it this far. The island is still very rural, made up mostly of small villages and a handful of very expensive hideaway lodges. It is a marine conservation park and perfect for travelers who want to scuba dive, snorkel and view marine wildlife in a laid back, non-touristy environment. We fell in love with the island because of its local feel and lack of tourists. One day after snorkeling we asked our guide to take us to the village for traditional food (which we had been missing from our village) and we indulged in rice and beans with the locals while chatting up old farmers (in swahili of course).

Another reason many make the long and off-the-beaten path trek to Mafia this time of year is to swim with whale sharks. They only emerge this time of year, and yes you really do get to swim with them. They are the largest fish in the world (so I was told). We only swam with the babies and they were around 15 meters long! Unfortunately I have no photos to share because, well… we were too busy swimming!

Other highlights were snorkeling, visiting a smaller bay island for its ruins and eating and drinking things we have only dreamed about over this past year.

Some pictures from Mafia:

View from our front porch.


Ruins on Chole Island.


Beach view from the bar.


Drinks every night with this handsome guy.


And lastly…my first margarita all year!!!!


The third stop on the trip was back to Dar for a Peace Corps Mid-Service Conference. It was a week of sharing our experiences and struggles with other volunteers and trying to get pumped-up for our next and last year.

From there, Luke and I and some fellow volunteers decided to hop a train to Zambia for one last adventure while we still could. We were bound for the “Great Smoke that Thunders”: Victoria Falls.

Unfortunately for me, the journey took three nights on a train that looked like it was built in the 50’s. It was slow and dirty. Our bathroom was literally a whole in the floor that went to the tracks. I had several break-downs, as did the train, and many times I threatened to get off at the “next stop” before actually leaving TZ. But we eventually made it and the end was worth it…I guess :)

So here is what we saw once we finally reached our summit: Victoria Falls, Livingstone Zambia.

P1010786 P1010783 P1010782Victoria Falls is the largest Falls in the world, when measured in length and height combined. Here is a diagram of the small portion we actually saw with our eyes (it is the little circle on the picture)!

P1010776After viewing the falls from the top we journeyed down the hill to view the “boiling pot” a portion of the river where the water swirls from the force of the falls.

P1010763Luke sitting on a rock viewing the boiling pot.


Our group of traveling companions.

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Our friend Alex, literally standing on the edge of the falls!


And lastly the train…


I wish I could conclude this blog with a little more reflection and words but the travelling crew is hassling me to stop blogging so we can go eat crocodile (we are still in Zambia). In conclusion I just want to say that we have had a once-in-a-lifetime journey this past month, not including the year before (2013). 2014 started with a new journey and what a journey it was. But I could not be happier to be returning to our village to live the rest of 2014 with purpose and simplicity. I miss our simple home, our dog and most of all the satisfaction that comes from being a part of our village community. They still need us and I definitely still need them. Here is to 2014 and to growing with the people of the southern highlands, Tanzania. We miss you!

Part II: Girls Empowerment Conference

After two weeks of vacation with Mom and June, we got back to work with a Girls Empowerment Conference that was planned with 4 other volunteers and their villages. The conference was a week long with approximately 30, 13-15 year old girls. The girls were a blast and in between all of our games and balloon fights, I think they learned a little bit :)

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Balloon toss! No real purpose other than to have fun :)

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This was a session on “Goal Setting and Career Planning.” Facilitated by an amazing young Tanzanian man who is an outstanding professional and our friend. In this pictures, Godfrey the facilitator, stands by while one of our young girls reads aloud her plan to accomplish her dreams and future career.

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Some of the girls getting career planning advice from Godfrey during the one-on-one questionnaire portion of the career panel.

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Girls getting advice from another local professional and outstanding role model for the girls.

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Class room chalk board after a session on “role models”

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A picture of yours truly, featured on the left, drawn by one of my girls during the role models session. The purple hair, glasses and outstanding style really look good on me right?

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Me with a teacher from our village’s high school demonstrating an exercise for the girls on building self-esteem. We each took turns writing positive comments about one-another on our backs.


Girls working on the same exercise

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Me with one of my girls Maria. I can always count on her to lead a session or get the girls pumped. She is a natural leader and was the super star of the training.


“Wasichana Wanaweza” Girls, Yes they Can!

Best part of the conference for me was watching young girls be girls. Much like American girls: giggly, gossipy, and happy to just kick it in their rooms while painting nails and dancing to the latest hit songs. Some funny and noticeable difference however were their fascination with electricity and running water, which many have never had. During some of the breaks I would be unable to find girls and then discover that they were all just playing in the shower because running water is so exciting. Some mornings I would wake the girls up and find that their lights had been on all night because they didn’t know you could turn electricity off and my favorite was watching the girls brush their teach every morning outside, because that is what they do at home, not realizing that that is what a sink is for :)

A good week all around for Peace Corps volunteers and the young girls we got to spend it with.

Part I: Suzy and June take on Tanzania

Well, well. It has been an incredibly long time since the last post and the longer I wait to blog the harder the blogging becomes. Not quite sure if we have been busier, hence the no blogging, or just tired after our one year anniversary in country! I hope it is not the latter. Any case the only way I can try to sum up the last two months (visit from mom and week long girls conference) is through pictures: enjoy!

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Suzy and June are in the house! They came mid September and stayed for two weeks. This is them on their first safari, get ready for the ride mom and June!!

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In Iringa with our visitors getting traditional fabric cloth sown so they can prance around TZ in true style. Miss you guys so much already.

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First view of the Iringa Ruaha National Game Park. This little spot had a dense collection of hippos, crocks and elephants. We could have stood there all day if our driver would have let us.

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After a beautiful, several hour, drive through the park we finally made it to our destination…this wonderful slice of heaven (for anyone, but for a Peace Corps volunteer especially, oh man we just about died!) Mwagusi Game Lodge, check it out!

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Our banda at the lodge. This is the view from the front of the “tent” looking out onto our patio and then the dry river. Elephants and even lions would pass through the lodge frequently. Lions at night and elephants at all times of the day trying to stomp around the river looking for water. Pretty amazing…and a little scary :)


The glorious, clean bed I never wanted to leave…game drive, no thanks, I would rather lay here with my coffee and cookies and pretend this is my life!

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Well when in TZ I guess a few game drives are necessary. Check out these napping lions…they were not terribly friendly and one even lunged at our OPEN car. DRIVER GO!!!

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Leopards in trees

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Picture Perfect

Having Mom and June here was absolutely wonderful, a little slice of home in the middle of this crazy adventure. And their visit was a much needed break from the 24/7 job of being Peace Corps volunteers, as you can tell from the pictures. But what made it wonderful, is precisely what also made it difficult at times. Here we are, a year into our service, we have this place, the people, the language, the food, pretty much everything figured out and making “some sense” in our American minds. Then, AMERICANS come and we are faced with the reality (which we thought we were over) that this place is crazy, upside down, loud, smelly, uncomfortable and at times downright terrifying (careening buses). For the sake of our guests we sympathize, we translate and we try to explain the un-explainable  and make the uncomfortable more comfortable; which is, not necessarily easy or maybe even possible. But they were truly troopers and took each new adventure (and bus) with open eyes and open hearts. I hope TZ did not let them down, but I think they would be the first to say this was not a “vacation” but a full-blown adventure, which if you know Suzy or June is NOT a bad thing. Two weeks in Tanzania might not turn you into a lover of this country (well one guesti manager did, thanks Tito!) but it will most definitely make you think about your own world in a new light and make you appreciative of the things you once thought didn’t need appreciation. Mom and June, thank you for your enthusiasm to take TZ on in a way most tourists would not and thanks for giving us the opportunity to see new pieces of TZ along the way. Miss you guys and can’t wait for some of June’s pictures (yes, hopefully more pictures to come when the actual photographer of the trip has time to share :)


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