Well over three weeks into my trip and I'm sure it will be a surprise to hear that I have taught for only one day!! Unfortunately a bout of a rare African illness has delayed the start of teaching, but as they say here polepole!!
So, just to give a quick update as to what I've been up to since my arrival. First of all though, apologies to Paul, I have realised that all the jokes I know, you told me!!
From arrival in Dar es Salaam on September 3rd I was picked up, by Matthias not Henry Bovertonians!! I then spent 5 nights at Kipepeo beach resort just south of Dar. It is a really tranquil place right on the beach, white sand, very blue sea. I had my own banda to stay in which is basically a small hut with a bed, simple yet effective!! I just used this time to relax and read a few books. The other volunteers arrived on the Sunday and I also met some outgoing volunteers on the Saturday night from JJ Fox. We stayed in Kipepeo until the Tuesday morning and it was a good chance to get to know the other volunteers. There are three other teaching volunteers and one building volunteer who we met up with later. We were also met by Fiona who works for Village Africa, which was actually a nice surprise, and she took us all up to Yamba and basically looks after us.
From Dar we travelled by bus to Tanga, this is north near to the Kenyan border on the coast. Now this bus was an interesting vehicle, it was the Scandanavian Bus Company, apparently the safest in Africa. To me at first glance it did look like a tin shell and most of the front drivers area did seem to be about to crack away from the rest of the bus. However as the journey progressed I became more confident in the tin shell, and particularly pleased by the napkin which was wedged in the door.
From Tanga we were picked up by the Village Africa 4x4, and made the very bumpy trip to Yamba, this took us another 3ish hours. The 4x4 is a massively vital tool for village africa, largely because no other vehicle would get anywhere near the village. Initially the road was quite bumpy, but it wasn't until we got to a village where Fiona informed us was the final bus stop, that it really duid get bumpy. Yet still when we got to the point where Fiona looked back and told us that this was the part of road that the villagers only built three years ago, that I truely understood what bumpy was!!
Our arrival in Yamba was incredible, by this point it was pretty dark, yet there was a big crowd of children waiting as soon as we stepped out the car they were singing and dancing. Whistles were blowing. Every child was asking our names, often saying 'What's my name?' which I thought was quite a tough guessing game after such a long journey until I realised they had confused their my and your!! We each had 2 large bags at least 20kgs each, these soon disappeared up the mountain along with our day bags. Although the road had got us to Yamba there was still a good hours walk to get us into the centre of the village, this was as far as the car would go. The whole time we were walking the children were there with us, singing their welcome song the whole way. Gradually some children would disappear as they must have drifted too far from home, but it seemed more arrived. If we got our cameras out to take photo's the kids would gather round to see the resulting picture with great amusement. When we eventually made it to the top where the Village Africa accommodation is we met Caroline the founder of the charity, and sat and had dinner. There was a lot of food!!
Two of the volunteers stayed in that main accommodation and myself and Jen were taken back down the hill a short way to a small house rented by Village Africa. We each had our own room and cupboard, again simple, but really nice. It had been a good first day!!
In the morning, we could really appreciate the village, largely because we could see it!! The view from our house was amazing!! The Usambara mountains stretch for miles, and I could never tire of seeing that view!!
The next couple of days were orientation, getting to know the village and the charity and what they do, and plan to do. As a bit of a plug, it is a very worthwhile charity, they really are making a big difference in Yamba and Milingano, but they also have great thought for the future and its sustainability. WE then did a 5 day TEFL training course which was led by Fiona. We had a Sunday rest in between. Sunday was church day. We all went to the local catholic church on what was a very hot day and sat in on the service. This involved a lot of singing, kneeling, sitting and standing. It also meant we had to stand at the front of the church and introduce ourselves to the congregation!! After each of us did this there was a lot of cheering and clapping, so it was a really nice welcome to Yamba.
Yamba is an amazing village, there is no electricity or running water, but there is mobile phone signal! Water is collected from the streams off the mountain and boiled before it's drunk. Washing is also done in these streams. Houses are mainly built from sticks and mud, but are kept very clean. There are some brick buildings in the village too. Toilets consist of a shed like building with a hole in the floor. The technique takes some practice. The shower is an empty room again shed like and each morning we are given a bucket of warm water, a bucket of cold water and a bowl.
The people of Yamba are so friendly, the children follow you, all wanting to help carry your things. All the adults seem so pleased to see us particularly when we use our recently learnt Kisambaa greetings. In the village the 1st language is Kisambaa but most will also speak kiswahili of which we are all trying to learn.