Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The one where Tim was taunted by 9-year-old girls

Family, friends and fans…
I write to you during the final days of our 5-6 week stay in Iringa, Tanzania.  It’s been wonderful/hard work/emotional/laughter-filled/exhausting all at the same time.  And we wouldn’t have had it any other way.  We’ve laughed until we’ve cried and been at the brink of tears but had to laugh in the face of frustration.  Instead of filling you in moment-by-moment of our time here, let me include some of those writing skills that I miss teaching 7 year olds; using sub-headings, bullet points and lists correctly divided up by commas J
Neema Crafts (http://www.neemacrafts.com/)
Neema Crafts is a café, shop, tailoring/weaving/paper making/beading/glass bead workshop, physio centre and now guesthouse.  Our initial work consisted of working on putting together the already opened guesthouse.  Thus our work included grouting tiles, laying tiles, pulling up tiles, re-grouting tiles, sealing said tiles, sawing wood, drilling holes in wood and walls, polyfila-ing, sanding, painting, and general using tools that we're unfamiliar with. 

A double room - everything in it was made at Neema -
bed frame, mozzie net, quilt, lamps, bedside tables and even printed sheets.
  I say WE but whilst Tim was doing all that in week 1, I was organising the most chaotic store room known to man and enjoyed being OCD for 3 days whilst I created a calming paradise.  It is now complete with a shadow board for tools and labels on shelves entitled 'liquidy things', 'electrical stuff' and 'lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of wires' etc very informative I think you'll agree.  The mouse which I discovered in the storeroom has reappeared in a number of places but its ok because a cat has also appeared.  Hopefully one will get the other :)

Mateso and I - behind me on the right are 'liquidy things' and behind Mateso on the left are the masking tape holders I made. Sadly, my ill developed sign language meant that I was unable to properly explain to Mateso the importance of keeping things in their rightful places...good luck little storeroom

Gorgeous workmanship
Ta daaaa grouted bathroom

Another room - you know you want to stay... :o)
Other work has included Tim building a room that he designed and put together all by himself. 
During building work...


With roofing - no idea what it is in English but it is mkeke in Swahili!
AND Tim became an electrician and wired in this light, tested with primary school-esq crocodile clips into the mains fusebox - because that's exactly what Tim's trained to do...
And my very un-african-yet-nevertheless-useful organisation and computing skills have been put to good use; I’ve helped create a guest pack, a volunteer pack and numerous signs and labels around all area of Neema which means that I am now omnipresent in the form of my labels. 

I also set up a cafe research survey and shop survey, and took photos of all the workers and made ID cards and I'm sure I did other things but can't remember what - they all blur into one! Oh and I HAD to do market research to make sure that the prices we were charging in the café were up to scratch so I went to other local eateries.  Market research is fun.  I think I’ll make a career in it.

William and Chiku
To describe William, think of a deaf Tanzanian Manuel from Faulty Towers.
Totally loveable. 

Amanda and Tim 'working'

Where the 'magic' happens
Katie's creative office (as organised by me!)

The sewing workshop

Gorgeous Owls being made
Fabulously antique Singers make all of the textiles


Dying the cotton

Beads made from strips of paper

The ramp from the workshop to the storeroom/ cafe/guesthouse/Tim's under-the-stairs project.
Tim has walked many a mile on this ramp

Mim and Lynsey at our 'leaving party' with the workers
Leave the water in the sun for 6 hours - badda-bing-badda-boom clean drinking water

Physio Beatrice with Haruna the shopkeeper - fact: the happiest person in the world ever.

  Oh and we helped put on a Jazz Evening with Timmy at the piano working his magic.  3 musical sisters happened to be staying at the guesthouse that evening and they were roped in too - one big happy family at Neema.  The evening rocked.
Ben and Katy (our Beach Mission friends as you will remember from the previous blog…) moved into a house that they are living in for 6 months whilst its owners are visiting the UK for that time and as hangers-oners of Ben and Katy, we get to enjoy the house too.  It is a gorgeous haven.  We have 2 'mamas' who prepare our water, do our washing up, wash our clothes and make bread for us daily (and things like banana bread and brownies if we ask nicely) - we HAD to keep them on as they would be out of a job if when we newbies moved in we wanted to be self sufficient.  So we are doing our bit for the community by providing them an income :)  Please don’t judge us on our return.  It is the life of an African missionary ;)

Elena, Katie, Ben, Mim and me
Week 2, Tim became poorly - his first sign of poorliness came when he found that he'd lost his hunger.  Whilst I crave this sensation, Tim knew something was up.  Some parasite was in his gut.  But after a 80p blood test (no malaria) and another *ahem* sample he was properly diagnosed, given a 5 day course of antibiotics and was right as rain soon after with his appetite returning with a vengeance!  
Amusing incidents
·         So whilst Tim’s illness was by no means ‘amusing’, his trip to the clinic to get his blood test was.  So he’s shimmied through the long line of Tanzanians also waiting to be tested for a range of things and was just another number really so had no idea of the technician’s level of English…upon his return for his results, he sat waiting in a chair opposite the technician who started pointing at his stomach.  Tim thinking that he was trying to explain that he might have been dying from something in his gut, the technician eventually stated ‘your flies are undone’. Ah. No near death charades then. Just plain and simple embarrassing moment topped off with a truly British expressions. Super.
·         So Tim also (why are these incidents always involving Tim…?!) was asked one workday Wednesday – ‘So can you be a German soldier in a Tanzanian history war film for a film festival in Zanzibar?’ ‘But of course’ was his reply.  Only two conditions – the beard needed to be trimmed and a finely manicured moustache was to be formed plus, the ability to ride a Tanzanian reared horse. Fine. Really?!! No really, here are the photos to prove it…
Morning of the shoot

He He Warriors

German Timmy!

Boys playing with their wooden toy guns

In battle



Less realistic Ben...
·         Finally Tim was persuaded to go belly first across a hippo infested low flowing river (dry season) on a zip line by 3 nine-year-old girls.  He’s bruised his chin and arms but at least has street cred amongst the 9 year olds. Ask Tim for further details.

Rosie (daughter of the Directors of Neema Crafts) tucking into jelly the only way one should! 

I saw a snake. No one else did so the others doubt the sighting but I did. It had black and white stripes and was about 30cm long (school ruler length methinks). No, it wasn’t a lizard.
Tim has seen a lizard, as pictured here. Pretty cool huh?!

A stray dog got hit by a car on our road and we’ve watched it decay over the last 2 weeks. Gross but weirdly interesting.
And last but not least, the cat in the home that we have been staying in has had a kitten that we have named Chui, which means leopard in Swahili but also because its furry like Chewi backa from Star Wars.  I love him/her (not sure yet) so much. He/she might be the reason we stay here.

Quaver and kitten Chui (apparently it should have a name relating to crisps so the kitten's full name is Chui Wotsit)
No set in stone ideas we’re afraid.  It seems to be just the way we roll.  We’d love to explore some of the work being done in Rwanda/Burundi/Uganda and more of northern Tanzania…but all will become apparent as we venture to such places and pin down our desires… but for now, all we can see is coming back to the UK for 6 days for a friend’s wedding…! Crazy but true.  Apologies to the many people we won’t be able to see – please understand that really I’ll be crying most of the time with tears of joy and happiness for my dearest Fizzy’s wedding, and panic and confusion as to what we’re doing in the UK and with our lives so really you don’t actually want to spend time with a basket-case like that.  For those that do get the pleasure of seeing this emotional wreck – please be prepared and develop your ma-husive questions from ‘How was Africa?’ to more specific ones like ‘Describe in 3 words your thoughts about Africa…’ and ‘So what trouble did Tim really get into out there?’…just some suggestions.
Right off to bed – a 9 hour bus journey ahead of us and Tim has booked us front row seats – terrifying – do I really want front row seats to watch our loaded bus overtake an 18-wheeler around a bend when a cow is in the middle of the road and a motorbike laden with a small family is coming in the opposite direction?  Well I’ll let you know next time…
Tic Toc xxx

Katie, Ben, Tim and locals walking to town from home.