A Bittersweet Goodbye

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Hello everybody, this is Marc writing the last blog post for the 2014 Tanzania trip from the Philadelphia airport.

The group had a series of action-packed days since our last post. After a relatively uneventful ferry ride from Bukoba, we made one last trip to Hotel Tilapia in Mwanza to take advantage of their free Wi-fi. In case we haven't described this place in earlier posts, Hotel Tilapia is this extremely fancy, touristy place in the city of Mwanza that sells food and drinks and has a great view of Lake Victoria and the city. You can tell it's a fancy place because 1. the bathrooms have actual toilets instead of holes in the ground and 2. they have soap (which is unfortunately a rare commodity in Tanzanian public restrooms). After a couple hours at the hotel, we were picked up in two safari cars by our safari tour guides, Richard and Victor, and headed to meet up with William at the ranger college we toured a month earlier. The college was holding their graduation that day, and since William was a member of some board associated with the college, we ended up spending a couple hours watching part of the ceremony. After that, we were off to the Serengeti!

We spent two days in the Serengeti National Park and one day in the Ngorongoro Crater on safari. We had a fantastic time seeing all the wildlife, which included giraffes, elephants, lions, monkeys, baboons, cape buffalo, thousands upon thousands of wildebeest, zebra, hyenas, and a cheetah (my favorite!). We took hundreds of pictures between the nine of us. If we weren't close enough already, it seemed to take a whole other level on the safari as we spent a lot of quality time in the cars, eating food, and camping together. We also spent the second day celebrating Megan's 21st birthday. That night an elephant came right up to where we were camping to get a drink of water. We got about 10 feet away!!! Talk about awesome (and a little scary).

After the safari on the third day we ended up in the city of Arusha. We spent this last night in Africa all hanging out in our hotel, listening to music, goofing around, and just having a great time! The next morning we went to the infamous Arusha market where we were met by lots and lots of vendors with tons of crazy souvenir items. Even though our bartering skills have improved a lot since the beginning of the trip, most of us ran out of money shopping at the market (myself included). It was probably a good thing we didn't have more money coming into the market! After the shopping, we packed up and headed to Kilimanjaro airport. Here we said goodbye to William and to Africa.

It was bittersweet leaving Africa. We all had such a great time and had become attached to the beautiful land of Tanzania. Most of us, however, were also longing for home. There were lots of confused emotions all around at the airport. One thing is for certain, however: this was a trip that none of us will soon forget. I am blessed to have gotten to travel to this land and build relationships with the locals and the other amazing students who joined me on this trip. To all the parents out there: you raised some awesome kids! Thank you all for reading this blog of our trip and for supporting us along the way.

Tutaonana!

P.S. One of the things we are most excited about for home is to take a shower. We all smell a bit like Africa!

Last Day in Bukoba

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It's safe to say that we are all feeling bitter sweet about today. We are ready go on safari and get back to the things we miss back home, but we have all come to love this place. It feels like now that everyone knows where everything is and is super comfortable walking around Bukoba, we have to leave. It was a similar feeling last time as well. We have spent the last few days here doing the things we love most. We taught at Bukoba Secondary School during the mornings on Wednesday and Thursday. It was a challenge to come up with lessons to do since the only thing we have to work with them is Microsoft Office. I think it would be very beneficial to come back to next year with some sort of typing program, because it was obvious that that is something they struggle with most. It would also nice to use the internet with the kids but that sounds like a harder task to accomplish.

Yesterday was an interesting day because we got to play a soccer game with the masai people. After the game, we followed them to the area that they live at and they did their jumping dance for us. They were eager to have us join in with them so a few of us (Chase, Adam, Susie and Anna I believe) got to dance with them! It was quite the site. And they were surprising not that good at soccer. Which is good considering none of us play soccer. We were happy to have Carly join us on our team since she was more into it then most of the girls.

We have also been visiting the Rose Cafe basically everyday. I think most of us are addicted to the chai tea there (at least I am) and they give us consistently really good food. We also love the owner of the place. He's also so welcoming and loves to see us come in. That is one place I will miss for sure.

We had a slow start to today. We were all glad to have the morning to sleep in and do whatever we want. We are also going to Izas one last time for lunch. That's the muslim orphanage that feeds us. It's fitting that we go there today because they give us the best food that we've had on this trip. Every meal is slightly different too which is also kinda rare here. They also feed give us more food than we know what to do with. So we always walk out feeling uncomfortably full. Today also consists of handing out our extra BWB t-shirts to our friends. That's always a fun thing to do and a good way to say goodbye our friends here.

So tonight we will board the ferry and arrive in Mwanza tomorrow morning. We may have a chance to connect to wifi briefly but we may not have any internet until after the safari on Monday. I'm so glad to have met every person on this trip. Everyone has been so open to embracing the culture here and learning swahili every chance they get. I'm so glad to have went on the trip with these amazing people.

-Megan

Celebrity status

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Hello everybody, this is Susie once again.

So i titled this entry "celebrity status" because honestly this whole trip in Bukoba, I have had a taste in what it would like to live like a celebrity. Everywhere we go, we are stared at, pointed at, greeted, laughed at, etc.. We have been getting so much attention it is ridiculous. Sometimes, people will even whip out their cell phones and take pictures of us. It's actually quite ridiculous and took a lot of time to get used to. At first lots of us found it extremely humorous but now some of us find ourselves annoyed and irritated. I now say that I am more of a celebrity because the children (especially the ones next to the house we are staying at) have memorized my name, Adam's name, sometimes Avery's name (when they can pronounce it), and Marc's name (except we told the kids to call him "Kevin"-- inside joke). But honestly whenever i walk past them on my way to town or way back home, children come flocking yelling "SUSIE" "HELLO" "HOW ARE YOU"!! they have even become comfortable enough to grab my hand and greet me with hugs and carry my groceries back to the house with me. Mom and Dad guess what? i'm a celebrity in Bukoba, Tanzania :)

Anyway, last night we went to the Prince hotel to watch some of the world cup. It's a rather nice hotel mostly for tourists that had cold beer!!! also spaghetti!! (I miss American food and food from home so much :'( )
It's amazing how everybody is OBSESSED with the world cup its so much fun to see! I, myself have even fallen in love with watching soccer! (or is it just the good looking soccer players...?) its a lot of fun to be sitting with the community and watching one screen because its awesome that this sport can bring everybody in Bukoba, and Tanzania, and actually the whole world together!
After the Germany, Portugal game, we found that it was rather late and extremely dark outside so we decided to take piki-piki's (motorcycle taxi's) back home and ran into a huge language barrier issue as they couldn't understand where we had wanted to go. It was actually pretty hilarious because they drove us to other motorcyclists who still couldn't understand us so we (chase, megan, me, marc, and anna) got so frustrated we got off the motorcycles and decided to just walk. Then motorcycles galore started flocking us trying to get us to hop on and the same ones from before were there too trying to understand where we were going, we caused a HUGE cluster in town. We were trying to walk away and escape the madness and motorcycles continued to cut us off trying to get our business it was a pretty funny situation. Finally, we found closer piki-piki's who understood where we were going and had a safe ride home :)


All these experiences we face are so awesome because there is something new to learn from it. Just experiencing language barrier issues and being the minority on your own gives you a lot of experience. I am not afraid to walk on my own in this city anymore and i don't think that is something i would have said when I first arrived here. I am enjoying each and every second of Africa!

Later this afternoon, me, Anna, Chase, and Megan are going to the hospital to hopefully do some shadowing. I really hope to see a mom-to be giving birth today. It would be an amazing thing to experience :)

Me, Chase, Megan, Anna are off to the Rose Cafe to sip on their DELICIOUS chai tea and I plan on reading.

Until next time!
-Susie (ps. thanks to whoever is actually reading this blog aka my friend Angelina <3)

Bats, Babies, Beaches, and Baboons

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Hey there everybody, Chase here. Yesterday was a pretty interesting day to say the least. We started out the morning as usual, getting up fairly early for the little tour we had planned out. After crawling down the hill to pack the 9 of us into a van not made for 9 people we found that we had an extra friend joining us today from South Africa. So it was us 9, George the South African, and William and we were off. Our first stop seemed like it was the middle of nowhere but after hiking down a trail we suddenly were led to a cave filled with bats. These were no regular Minnesota bats, these things were massive and zooming around everywhere. We scrambled through the cave, which was apparently used as a mission base in the war in the 70s between Tanzania and Uganda and popped out the other side, after taking some pictures of course.

Next, we continued down the trail until we could faintly hear the sound of rushing water which got louder and louder until a 25 foot waterfall appeared. It was straight out of a movie with jungle vines and mossy stumps everywhere. Took some more pictures and some of us even managed to cross the river below it and make our way up close enough to catch the spray. It was easily one of the more beautiful sites we have seen so far.

We crammed back into the sweltering car and made our way to Ntoma. Ntoma is a orphanage for babies from the day they are born until around 2 years of age where they ship them off to a new family or a relative of the deceased mother. They gave us a small tour of the facility, including a baby that was found in a bush weighing about 4 pounds. After two weeks at the facility she weighs almost 6, which is great news! They brought us out to the tiled play area and let us entertain the babies for a while. I'm pretty sure some of the girls contemplated stealing a few of the babies to bring back home.

We had lunch at one of the neighboring buildings and hopped back on the road which seemed to get rougher and rougher as the miles went on. Eventually we arrived at this huge grassy valley that butted up to Lake Victoria. The sandy beach was a welcome sight and we all relaxed for a bit. Some of us also decided to cool off in the lake, which was perfect for swimming. One of our group brought out a soccer ball and kids appeared from nowhere. It's still surprising to me how much everybody in Africa loves soccer, especially during the World Cup. A couple hours of relaxing and it was time to head back. As soon as we got to the first hill it was immediately apparent that our van with 11 people was not as good going up hills as it was going down. The only way the van could get up the rocky mess of a road was for us to get out and only the driver sit in the car. Sure enough, we make it to the top and continue down the road. After getting out for a hill the second time the van decided that it didn't want to shift out of 4 wheel drive or into 2 wheel, but rather that it wanted to stay in the middle. There was a good 15 minute period where we couldn't really move at all. Luckily, William called somebody who knew the trick to fixing the car and we were on the road again. Right as we were all getting in the car a group of monkeys ran across the road and one even stopped long enough for all of them to see, so I guess the car breaking down wasn't all bad. The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful but by the end we were all definitely ready for some rest.

Today, we don't have much planned and pretty much everything is closed on Sunday's here so we decided to go hang out at a closer beach. We met a couple friends from the UK about a week ago so they're coming to. A nice relaxing day before we jump back into the gardening tomorrow morning. A couple more days of work and we'll be on safari. I can't wait.

Happy Father's day!
-Chase

Ovarian Cysts

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hello everybody! This is Susie writing the blog for today!

I was really anxious to write the blog today because I had an amazing experience yesterday and today. This morning, all nine of us went to a secondary school and went into a classroom with the computers that were previously donated from the U and helped the students with the program Microsoft word. 2-3 students had to share a laptop because there weren't enough for each student to have one so all nine of us were able to spread out and help different groups of students on a laptop. I got to work with two boys, Geoffrey (13 years old) and Innocent (14 years old) and I have never had so much fun explaining and teaching before. I am not a very patient person but seeing these boys struggle to even use the mouse pad on the laptop really hit me hard that not everybody has the opportunity to use computers on a daily basis or even ever use them at all. We instructed the students to write a letter to us explaining describing their favorite food, music, animal, what they are studying, hobbies, what they wanted to be when they are older, and who they want to win the world cup! I was so impressed with my two boys because in their letters they said they loved to work hard, learn, and study. Also, Geoffrey loved physics and wanted to be a pilot and Innocent loved biology and wanted to be a doctor. It made me really happy knowing these boys had goals like these. After they wrote their letters (it took them a looonnnggg time to type out everything) I showed them simple things like how to change the font, color, size, of their letter and use clip art. Even though these things sound really simple, i was so proud at the end of our morning because they seemed so happy to have learned these simple techniques using Word. I asked them if they wanted me to show them more stuff or if they wanted to play computer games but they asked me if i could teach them more which made me so happy and excited! At the end they told me thank you and asked when i was coming back again which made me so happy. It was such an enjoyable experience teaching these boys simple computer skills and it really put me in an amazing mood. We are going back next Wednesday to teach more computer skills and I cannot wait. I never thought i would ever have such an enjoyable teaching experience and that i would actually be good at it :)

Yesterday was also super exciting. We went to a hospital about an hour away (by car) called Mugana which was so beautiful. It was a privately owned hospital (i think?) and therefore looked a lot nicer than the one we have been going to in Bukoba. there were beautiful flowers and bushes everywhere and it was a great thing to see. It's so interesting because there aren't hallways like there are in American hospitals because people just walk outside. So there were sidewalks leading to the differnet buildings that were lined with beautiful plants. At the hospital we were able to observe surgeries!!! we scrubbed up and literally stood next to the surgeon and other doctors and the patient during the surgery and it was AWESOME! We paired up to go observe the surgeries and me and Adam got to watch a goiter surgery. Later on, Me, Anna, Mark, and Ashley watched a surgery where a woman had ovarian cysts removed. It was so awesome to see these things first hand and it was a proud moment to realize that such a sight didn't make me queezy or sick! During the surgery where the woman had her ovarian cysts removed, we were quite surprised at how aggressively they ripped open the womans stomach! then I'm not goin to lie, i jumped when the intestines and uterus started popping out of the incision. Overall it was amazing, and a great learning experience for everybody.

This trip has been pretty long but it's crazy how fast its gone by... the whole time of the trip everybody has been saying how we have SO MUCH TIME to do anything that we want but before we even knew it, we only have one week left in Bukoba!! It's crazy how much fun i've had and how much i've fallen in love with Africa I don't even want to imagine saying good bye. Also how close and comfortable I've grown with people here is truly amazing. I'm done being sad and sappy about leaving so I won't think about it anymore :'(...

For the remaining time, I am going to enjoy everything to the fullest and embrace the fact that i am in Africa! also make more amazing memories with these awesome people and have the time of my life before I have to return to the "real world" where i have to pay rent and bills and be a student :(

Until next time!
-Susie

I smell what your stepping in

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Hello all, this is Marc! Another day, another field of dirt we cleaned up and converted to a garden in Bukoba. I didn't personally go to the garden project the first day, so I was excited to work in the field! Group members got really burned up from the first day of gardening (especially Kayla!) so we were all pleased with the cool weather and cloudy sky yesterday with the second garden. Eight of the nine group members went to the field yesterday as Adam was not feeling well. Also, Carly, the president of BWB 2013-2014 made it to Bukoba recently and helped with the gardening. Carly will be in Tanzania through the end of July working with the nutritional program at House of Grace. At the garden, we spent about four hours in the field clearing grass, planting cabbage, bell peppers, and tomatoes, and transferring a mountain of manure from a cow pen to the field. Needless to say, we were filthy by the end of the project. We each took long, and as always, cold showers when we returned to William's to scrub off the dirt and smell of cow dung. Some were more successful than others.

Today the group went to a secondary school in Bukoba and worked with students in the computer lab for two hours. We taught the kids how to use Powerpoint. We had a blast and are planning another trip and lesson for the kids this Friday. After our visit to the school we ran into two volunteers from the UK. They were very nice and wanted to meet up with us sometime.

Also, our excitement is growing as we prepare to watch a goiter surgery tomorrow at a nearby hospital. Stay tuned for the bloody details to follow!

Mzungu - my name is not Mzungu

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The chants of "Mzungu - how are you!" have been holding strong throughout our stay in Bukoba. The kids in town have been getting more brave and are learning some of our names now too - they mostly yell "SUSIE!" and hold up their Tootsie roll wrappers that Avery passed out.

Our visit to Mugaza last week was an experience. They ended up just taking our cleaning supplies in as a donation as well as the sunscreen and clothing. We taught the Albino children briefly how to use the sunscreen to protect their skin. We then had the chance to play with all the children there with the soccer balls we donated. A few of us played hand games, basketball, and let them play with our hair which was super fascinating for them.

This past weekend we made the trek to William's village. It was an exhilarating drive there to put it simply -- I don't think we'll ever get used to the crazy driving on African roads. Not to mention how cozy all 9 of us have to get in that van. William took us to a soccer game and we saw the long hike that some kids have to take to get to school every day. We didn't make the walk ourselves because we didn't want to miss the soccer game. We were also provided with the most delicious meal we've had so far after the game. A family invited us over and had more food than I can even recall for us. We all had twins for food babies that night. We were also able to hand out the rest of our clothing donations directly to some kids from an orphanage from his village. It was fun to see how excited they would get over a few of the items and how quick they were to put them on over the clothes they were wearing. We also passed out the dental supplies during that time.

Today we had the opportunity to work with the House of Grace again. We were able to build gardens in the neighborhoods where the families lived. On a pretty steep hill, we planted six long plots down the hill of cabbage and sweet peppers. We planted around 400 cabbage plants and 100 sweet peppers by hand with the help of some of the mothers and other volunteers. It was hard and dirty work, but it was fun. We also had the chance to try some fresh sugar cane after a bit of confusion about how to go about trying it. We were then thanked by one of the families with delicious lemon grass tea, cassava and sweet potatoes (not the orange ones from the US - they are a better variety in my opinion).

Spider update: we haven't found any more infestations, but the kindle is still under quarantine in a plastic bag. Don't worry though, Anna found another way to read Catching Fire and Mocking Jay.

We're off to the market for dinner supplies and to rest up for more gardening tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 3rd

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This is Anna, the honorary blogger for the day! It has been quite and eventful few days since Susie last posted. Last Friday we went to Mister Raza's house for the second time to eat and hang out with the children there. As it is prayer time and a Muslim custom, the boys must cover their body to their wrists and ankles and the the girls do the same and in addition, wear head-wraps! The group has embraced this and all of the girls have purchased fabric for the meal times (I even got two :D ). Over the weekend we ran errands to collect and purchase supplies for our second trip to Mugeza, the albino, blind and disabled children's school, as well as the nutritional program we are assisting House of Grace with. Yesterday was by far my favorite part of the trip thus far. A group of five went with The Reverend and his son from House of Grace to interview families enrolled in their nutritional program. We were able to meet and talk with 9 families from the Kemondo Village. Little did we know that this would entail about 4 hours of hiking through the hills and forests of the Bay area. The trip was not only gorgeous but eye-opening to the conditions of daily life here in Tanzania. One thing is for certain, I will never complain about the walk to and from campus at the U ever again. These people are absolutely amazing. They welcomed us into their homes, which for the majority were traditional huts, and explained their reason for enrollment in the program. It was truly an incredible experience for all of us. While the five of us completed interviews, the rest of the group finished collecting all the supplies we need for the rest of the week. Last night we again attended meal time at Mister Raza's and it was delicious as usual.

On a more personal note, we have had some fun while here as well! Over the weekend William's daughter, Queen, turned 2! We were invited to the party on the beach and it was a blast. Chase learned how to pop champagne for every one and there were dance competitions for the kids and Meow-ing/Laughing competitions for the adults... still not sure what to make of the cat meowing competition. The party was awesome and we spent a good part of Saturday and Sunday at the beach. When we aren't out having fun or working the group has enjoyed playing cards, watching movies and more often, reading. Many times I have looked up to find all nine of us reading. Currently I am in the middle of reading Catching Fire. Sadly, I don't know if I will ever be able to finish it since a hoard of spiders decided to make my kindle their nest a few days ago -___- I was reading out on the patio and all the sudden little baby spiders started crawling out of every crack... traumatizing to say the least. Hopefully I will be able to find some good reads at the bookstore here.

Today we will be going to Mugeza again.. our ride is picking us up soon so we have to start heading back. I hope everyone at home is having a great summer!!

Love Anna
P.S.
Mom I'm really sorry about the Kindle.. Jack happy almost graduation!! Dad, Love you tons!!

Friday, May 30

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This is Susie and I'm the lucky blogger of the day.

Its been a while since we last blogged because the internet cafe doesn't always allow us to log on to the u of m website. So I'm going to try and sum up what we've been doing.

Three days ago we went to a Muslim orphanage where us ladies got to wear hijabs. we got to observe them pray and also ate dinner with them. It was intereseting because we ate sittin on the floor and ate with our hands. We were served white rice with chicken and potatoes in a really yummy sauce. It was quite the experience for everybody eating with their hands but we all thought the food was delicious. The children in the Muslim orphanage are currently fasting from 6 am to 6 pm so that dinner was teh first meal they had all day. It was incredible how quickly they ate especially because the food was burning hot. Us Americans had to wait for it to cool off and still struggled even touching the hot food. The kids giggled at us for that. Also, girls and boys were segregated the whole time we were there so us 6 girls (Avery, Ashley, Megan, Kayla, Anna, and I) sat around one big plate of food. We felt as if we should finish all our food and we didn't want to leave anything over beausae we didn't want to seem wasteful but we were all very full before all the food was gone. We then kept trying to eat mroe and more and more but then eventually gave up and decided to hand our plate to a group of girls sitting behind us. They took the plate and immediatly ate as much as they could and we felt guilty that we had been trying to stuff ourselves with food even though we were full while the children were still hungry. That was an interesting experience. We are also going back later today and eating a late lunch with them after we watch them pray.

Another interesting thing we did was eat grasshoppers! Surpringly they aren't that bad. they taste ilke a mixture of peanut butter and fish. Kind of strange but I didn't mind. It's really fun to see huge bags full of grasshoppers for sale on the side of the street. They eat grasshoppers here like us Americans eat our french fries.

Yesterday, we also went to the albino orphange. Not only did albinos live there, but children with handicaps. All the children were so friendly and sweet and we got a tour of the orphanage and hung out with the children for only a little bit. We plan to go back there on Tuesday and clean the dormitories and play with the kids a lot more.

I'm having a blast here and loving the completely differnent culture and food. But even so I really want McDonalds or a pizza.... The rice and chicken aren't really hitting the spot anymore.. But I got told by Megan to stop takling about American food until the last week of the trip unless I want to be absolutely miserable so I am going to try my best. Everybody in the group is so great and smart it's really fun to be surrounded by such smart people and most of the conversations we have are fairly educational which has been really interesting. I'm enjoying each and everyday here and I'm really glad I am able to have this learning opportunity.

(Hi mom& dad I love u)
-Susie

Friday.

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