He’s a bright one, he’s the right one
Today we said farewell to one of our team. Martin Bocutt, more affectionately known to us as Martini, headed for home today, so we did the team photo thing first thing (Martini’s the altitudonally enhanced one in the middle).
Martin came over to install the twenty or so laptops donated by Rowledge Primary School, and into instruct the locals in their use. With this successfully achieved, along with a wireless internet connection using mobile phone technology, he climbed on a plane this afternoon to head back to Dar-es-Salaam and a ten hour wait for his connection home.
Godspeed Martini, and thanks.
Tanzania Survival guide part the next
Bring a cushion. I cannot stress this strongly enough. Once you have spent several hours interviewing children with nothing but a hard wooden bench beneath your gluteus maximus, you’ll realise you should have listened to this piece of advice.
Also good waterproofs are recommended for when the monsoons arrive.
Today we split into two teams again, with one group heading for Pambogo and the other for Mwanjelwa. At Mwanjelwa the interviews were held in the primary school using some of the school’s benches. The work ran along at a steady pace, with a light rain rattling the roof part way through the morning.
We finished at around two o’clock and headed for our second venue at Airport nursing sore bums (at least some of us were. The experienced members of the team seemed to be aware of the need for additional upholstery).
Life through a lens – Emma’s bit.
Day 4 of interviewing and day 4 of facing the mammoth task of photographing every child coming through the scheme, yesterday it was 670 photos I took – today’s images are still busy downloading so we’ll just have to wait and see…
Back to today though. Based in the school playground of Mwanjelwa, Jan and I had the fun but exhausting task of doing the photography in the heat of the playground between two adjoining primary schools. To say it was manic is a little understated, but I did learn some more Swahili “Simama Mbali” (stand back)…
But aside from the enjoyment of the task, today was a real eye opener of school life in Tanzania. Greeting us throughout the day, were calls of ‘Good Morning’ from children leaning through windows with no glass, waving with huge grins and dusty hands. It’s amazing the windows were still in place despite the big chunks of mortar missing from under them. But when you peaked through, allowing for time for your eyes to adjust to the dim light due to the lack of electricity; it was heart breaking. 3 or 4 children squeezed onto each bench, trying to work in the dark, with between 60 to 100 children in a class. My final challenge was when break times finishing and I had to bite my tongue as teachers shout aggressively swiping at the kids with short sticks to get them inside or off the windows… It’s no wonder when we interview them, the worst thing they say about school is the beatings…
Despite all this the children want to be at school, willing to cope with the conditions, wanting to learn, somewhat different from life back at home. Tanzanian children cope with life more challenging than I’ll ever know. Yet everyday they run to see us, grabbing our hands, smiling, waving or making a game out of rubbish they’ve found. People wave, and point, with shouts of “Jambo, Habari” – ‘Hello, how are you.’ Never again will I grumble or think life is tough – if I do, I shall think back to the smiley Tanzanians and give thanks God for all I have.
Meanwhile Team Pambogo started off in a cloud of dust. One of the groups’ trousers started off blue, but within less than an hour they had turned completely brown (with the dust I’ve been asked to point out).
As the team drove into Pambogo, children came running across the fields form all directions. The interviews started with children leaning in every available window, calling out, ‘Hello, how are you’ and similar greetings, maintaining a noise level that made interviewing impossible, until the teachers pushed the children back enough for the work to start.
Then around one thirty, the rain arrived, thundering on the roof so loud that the interpreters had to lean across to ask the questions of the children. It cooled the surroundings enough that most of the team either reached for sweaters or wished they’d brought them.
Back in Airport, Team Mwanjelwa started on the second half of their day, with yet another massive crowd of children to interview. The rain held off until about four o’clock, but when it arrived, the entire crowd waiting outside the church tried to push their way in, at which point, not only did the rain on the rood sound like a troop of boy scouts going to work with sledgehammers, but the crowd filling half the church added to the general hubbub by continuing their conversations at max volume.
Work continued uninterrupted until Team Pambogo arrived around five thirty, then the teams were rotated, giving short, but much needed breaks with the now familiar rice, veg and fruit meal in the centre. The interviews kept on, with everyone chipping in, until about seven thirty, the last few being done under low power dinge bulbs.
Back at Karibuni, the eternal chicken, chips and pizza ended a long day with tired, but contented, team members chatting the rest of the evening away, or working to compile the data collected today.
Throughout the week so far, a great many of us have encountered children sponsored by people we know, which has been a pleasant bonus. Today was no exception with quite a few of us sitting down with kids sponsored by close friends and members of our families.
The final tally for today’s work was 200 in Pambogo, 123 in Mwanjela, and 134 in Airport. 1800 photographs taken (around four per child).
A massive acknowledgement needs to be made to the Tanzanian translators who work with us every day, and especially today. For us wazungu, the interview process is relatively straightforward; asking the same questions from a form can almost be done on autopilot, although some care has to be taken to ensure that bits of the data make sense. In most cases though, the Tanzanians have a considerably larger task, often having to explain questions more than once, or coax answers from the young and the shy.
Lie in tomorrow. Yay.