I'm at home doped up on medicine and really loopy*. So, naturally, I figured it was a good time to do a blog post to catch up.
Things have been trucking right along here. We've been in our house a little over a week but it feels much longer. We spent the first week getting the basics together-water filter, curtains, mosquito net up, kitchen set up, etc. And this past week we've been able to do things that aren't maybe necessities, but sure do make it easier to live in a home-hang mirrors, buy a rug, etc. Maryknoll Lay Missioners gives us a small budget to buy big items, such as a couch and loveseat, stove and fridge, and kitchen counters. All the furniture was handmade so it took a while to get everything, which is another thing that slowed us down in moving. We wanted to be sure at least a good majority of our furniture was in place. By the time we got into the house we were only waiting on couch cushion covers and our kitchen counter.
Here are a just a few shots of our living room and kitchen.
And, now that we have a functional kitchen I've really been enjoying experimenting with the amazing, fresh ingredients here. The other day I made homemade enchiladas. By homemade I mean I made the tortillas, the enchilada sauce, an Africanized refried beans, and salsa. It was so good!
On a sad note, after this first time of using this silicone baking pan that I brought from home I burned it up in the oven (I won't tell you how) and it's useless. Dang!
Now that things are settling in at home I can start concentrating on my job. You know, the reason I'm actually here. Things have been very slow-going on that front. I won't really go into the details but let's just say I've not had much to do at the office and have been working less than 3 hours a day. In order to facilitate my language learning and to give me more work to do I've started to visit other organizations in the area to check out what kinds of work they are doing.
This past weekend I went up into the hills around Mwanza with a Maryknoll Brother, Mark, who does public health work in his parish. It was really neat to get out and see a new area of town (where we walked up and up and up a meandering, rocky footpath to the top of a hill and there are no roads). Members of Brother Mark's parish health committee organized a skit to teach the community about ways to overcome common marital problems. They decided that marriage and divorce were the biggest health issues in their community and they wanted to do something about it. This skit focused on a family whose father is an alcoholic and spent all of their money for food and schooling on alcohol. The mother doesn't know what to do, so she seeks advice from other family members and the community leadership. They all join together to confront the father about his problem. In Tanzanian culture (as well as my own) families often keep their issues private, which can cause a host of other issues to emerge. So, this skit was trying to encourage families to break the silence on a very common issue so that the marriage can be saved, the family can afford food, and the kids can attend school.
In this picture, the "mother" stands with her head held low because she is shammed they can't afford food and schooling. The "father" sits on a stool nearby.**
The "babu/grandfather" gives a lecture to the alcoholic father, while the rest of the family is gathered. "I want peace in the family," he says over and over again. You can also see that the attendees of the skit are gathered round intently watching the play unfold.
At the end of the skit, they distributed pamphlets on marriage and how to prevent violence in the home. The brochure emphasized equality, love, trust, and communication.
One of the things that really amazed me about the program was how many community members came to watch the presentation and how intently they listened. Some people laughed when the family problems got resolved so easily because they recognize that in real life it's not that simple. But I truly feel that just talking about these issues in a public forum is an important step.
And, in case you were concerned, while I was away from home that day at the community health forum, rest assured that our home was protected and safe by our ferocious guard dog.
"Let me know if you see anything suspicious at the gate," says Smokey.
*I'm still battling the rash I had 2 weeks ago and THE amoeba (as my mom calls it). I went back to the clinic yesterday and the Hungarian Doctor gave me 1 dose of 2 big horse pills to take for the amoeba. I've been zonked ever since. I've also got a cream for the rash and another 10 doses of meds for the itching. Sheesh.
**The man who played the father in the skit was missing a leg due to a snake bite!