March 3, 2015

The voices of fisherman headed to the lake blend with the cheery chirping of the colorful birds. Geese sing and a light trickle of raindrops hit the tin roof.

I wake to the daylight eagerly peaking through the gap between my nearly translucent curtains. The chatter coming from the Maasai under the mango tree reminds me I’m in Tanzania.

I take my anti-malarials persistently reminding me of their importance on my nightstand, and head to the dormitory style bathrooms in the guesthouse with my water bottle ready to brush my teeth. I was always particular and more so a martinet when it came to the quality of the water I consumed; I have also taken into consideration a water pitcher comparison for the immaculacy of water my refrigerator spewed. Once I’ve taken care of the necessities, I put on a vibrantly colored knee-length skirt made for me by Edwin, the local tailor. “Habari za asubuhi,” I am greeted by Mama Katherine and Fatuma. A delicious omelete is prepared and ready for me with freshly brewed coffee on the living room table. I converse briefly with the volunteers over breakfast and check in to make sure they are set for their daily projects.

I head to my office in the administrative building for a morning meeting with Chris, the Founder and CEO of JBFC. We go over emails for the day that I pre-load at my house through the 3G hotspot from my work phone. Then the international team meets to discuss the progress on all active projects on campus. Once everyone has their duties, I get started on my never-ending to-do list.

I negotiate prices and availability for flights on behalf of a high school group coming to volunteer through our local travel agent. Then I update the JBFC Google Calendar and ASANA (our project tracking system). I respond to email inquiries, and update the campus inventory list. I research upcoming projects on spotty internet: paper making, and trade schools/university options in East Africa for the JBFC Girls’ transition after graduating Form 4 from Joseph and Mary Secondary school.

Then I walk down the dirt road past the Maasai tree, and the local fisherman carrying their daily catch, I glance to the right and get a glimpse of the white sails gliding through the lake. As I approach the Joseph and Mary schools, I am greeted by smiles and “mambos” from the children in their proudly worn uniforms. I enter the Library and begin the session for the creative writing club I run after school on Tuesdays. Color poems are on the agenda this week, so I pass out a worksheet with an example and a template for writing one.  I run into some barriers teaching kids of varying ages metaphors and similes, but luckily some of the older girls step in and help explain to the younger students.  Salome a spunky 5th grader shouts for my attention so she can show off her poem about the color green that she concludes beautifully, “Green feels like I am at the moon dreaming.”

After clubs, I walk through the girls’ dorms to say hi. Some girls are washing their clothes by hand, while others help prepare dinner in the dining hall, many girls are already working diligently on their homework, and I chat for a while with the hair braiding crew sitting on the stoop. After getting my hair done, and singing Adele’s “Someone Like You” several times- I head back to the guesthouse for yoga. As I roll my mat out on the porch facing Lake Vitoria’s waves meeting the shoreline, I take a deep breath in and feel overcome by gratitude. Namaste.

I take a shower to rinse off the drops of dew that have accumulated on my clothes from a productive day under the Tanzanian sun. Then I head down for ugali and eggplant with the JBFC girls. The bell rings at 8, and we head back to the dining hall for prayer as the beautiful melody of appreciation and awareness are sung in Swahili. I end my day with goodnight hugs from 45 amazing girls, and my heart feels warm as I tuck in my mosquito net and lay down to go to sleep.

1 Comment

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About Author

Anna is an optimist with pessimistic tendencies who enjoys making a short story long, listening to soundtracks from musicals, and watching anything in the post-apocalyptic sci-fi genre. These days you can catch her in her natural habitats wandering with her partner and dogs through forest roads in a van, hiking to waterfalls or glacial lakes, and learning about off-grid living and gardening the hard way. You can also find her on YouTube at Anna and Ryan.

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