Friday, August 31, 2012

That Kind of Day

Friday are supposed to be my days to work from home. But because we have an all-day meeting tomorrow, the girl that does our wash on Saturdays has come today to do it instead. We put up the clothesline outside knowing that the cement was still not completely set from when the workers installed the spikes at the top of our wall earlier this week. The clothesline is attached to the wall. But I was hoping it would stay. Of course, just as Jackie was putting the last piece of clothing up, the wall broke, the clothesline fell, and all the clothes fell into the dirt. So I helped her pick everything up, feeling sorry that I couldn't adequately express my sympathy as she re-rinsed everything. Then I fixed the clothesline inside the garage and told her to just put the stuff up in there. As she was 1/2 way through hanging the stuff, the line broke and 1/2 of what she had just rewashed and rehung fell to the dirty floor again! The garage floor is even more dirty than the dirty on the ground, so Jackie had to totally rewash those things that fell. I feel so sorry for her! And, I've not managed to get any work done so far. Let's see what the rest of the day brings.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Just Another Day in Mwanza

I went to the hairdresser today and got my first real haircut.

My first "real" haircut in TZ

Boy was it sorely needed! While I was at the hairdresser I also picked up some lettuce. Because, really, who doesn't buy lettuce while you're getting your hair done?*

In other news for the weekend, Chris and George finished putting up the privacy fencing around the yard. Check out how good it looks!

Chris and George's handiwork-reed mats around our fence, which will give us more privacy.

I hate to block out the outside world because I like looking outside my window and seeing Africa. But at the same time, people are always looking at us through the fence and either staring or asking for something, usually both. I just feel like we're always in the spotlight, so I really am excited to have this privacy and feel a little more comfort in our home and outside in our yard.

Smokey's not too happy about the new fence, though. Look at what happened to her "secret" escape route into the outside world full of trash and bones to eat.

The reason Smokey is so sulky today...

She's been sulking all day today. So to take out her frustrations she's helping Chris with some heavy yard work.

Smokey's idea of helping Chris in the backyard

Smokey's idea of helping Chris in the backyard

Thanks, Smokey. Our garden beds will be so much nicer because of your assistance today. 

*Lettuce is kind of hard to find (or at least found in out of the way places) so when the guy came into the saloon** selling veggies I took the opportunity! And it was cheap too--500 shillings for 2 heads (that's like 35 cents). They were small, but they usually run closer to 1000 shillings for 1, so I feel like I made out in the deal.

**Yes, I said saloon. The Tanzanians call salons saloons. Or at least, that's what they often write on the outside of their shop. Cracks me up every time.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Where's August?

I can't believe that August is almost 1/2 way over! It seems like life has just been picking up and I've got so much to do and little time to do anything. So, yes, this is an apology for not posting more this month.

Burglary update:
Looks like I'm not going to get my computer or Blackberry back. So, if people can please email me your phone numbers, physical addresses and birthdays (for you and your kids if you have any) because I lost all of that. Chris and I are slowly adjusting to being a one computer family. Life is tough, I know. But that has been a tougher adjustment than I think either of us would've thought! ;)

Smokey is doing great. Last week she gained her full apatite back and then-some. She's back to her super chipper, loving ways. We're hoping to increase our wolf pack by one more this week because we're on the lookout for a cat. We've not gotten one yet, but we have some feelers out so I think any day now... That will add to our mental well-being, I hope, because it'll give us a little fuzzy one to cuddle with and pet, which totally lowers stress levels.

Job update:
I've started working full time at Kivulini and it's been great so far. There's not much to report on that front yet. I've mostly been learning about the work they do and assessing where I can make a difference. I think I'm joining the organization at a good time because their Executive Director is transitioning out. The new ED is young and full of really good ideas. He seems very smart and on-point. I will most likely be a technical adviser to help get the organization a little more streamline in the way of programming, evaluating, monitoring, documenting, etc, which will help them get more funding and provide more valuable services in the region to prevent violence against women.

Fun stuff:
We've been busy having new Tanzanian friends over for dinner. One friend who lives in our neighborhood and also works with Chris came for a visit last week and brought her 2 kids over. We made chilli and a TON of french fries. The kids had a great time playing with some toys that were sent from the States.

Friends over for dinner
Chris wasn't happy that the boy had his nemesis printed on his shorts. SHARKS! Ha ha!

Chris and I went to Musoma this weekend to visit fellow missioner, Liz. It was great to get away from the stresses of the big city and our life here and relax for a few days. Liz always rolls out the red carpet for us and it was great seeing her. We also got a chance to help out with Lisa's Pride and see the kids who we met back when we were at language school. It was great to see them again! They're such a great group of kids.

Lisas Pride
Playing with sidewalk chalk sent from the States

A message from a child in Lisa's Pride
A message from the kids of Lisa's Pride

Lisa's Pride

Liz and a member of Lisa's Pride
Liz and one happy looking girl. She used to be really surly, but seems to be warming up to our group a lot! She's a cutie!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

New Beginnings

Over a week has passed since the burglary and I finally feel like our life is back to being about more than just going to the police station. We're still checking in with the investigator from time to time and on Monday we went in to claim some of our belongings that they found. I KNOW! Right? How crazy is that!? I've had plenty of things stolen from me over the years, but I don't recall ever getting much back. And we were able to take the stuff home with us that day. They just took a picture of the things, had Chris sign a statement saying he received them and that was that.

While we were at the station they brought in the burglar who, unbeknownst to us, they had in custody. The investigator simply left the room for a minute, came back with this kid and said "this is your thief." It was very strange to sit in the same room with the kid (well, he was probably around 21-ish), look him in the eyes and hear him tell how he came into our house and bedroom while we slept. He didn't even seem one bit remorseful about it. He had this cocky half smile on his face the whole time. Really creepy.

So, from here, they'll bring the guy to court. Who knows how long that'll take or how long of a sentence he'll get. I wonder if we'll still be living here by then. In the States it often takes years even for things to go to trial; not sure if it's like that here. The police think that by the end of this week or early next week they will have recovered the last of the big items that were taken. So I guess all there is to do is get back into the rhythm of life here.

Which brings me to the real point of this blog post--the fact that we still really don't have much of a rhythm to life here in Tanzania. It seems like we've constantly had stumbling blocks ranging from slow/non-existent ministries, illness, and burglary. It seems like every time we're all set to start actually "doing something," we get set back. Chris and I have talked multiple times recently about longing for the time when we had jam-packed schedules and too many activities to fit into one day. We feel like we're having good experiences, but that we're not really "doing" anything.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks that I've faced over the past few months is on the work-front. Several friends in the States have asked me over email recently what I was doing again work-wise and apologized for not remembering. My response has been that they probably don't remember because I've not really said what I'm doing. In fact, I don't think I've even written anything on my blog about my work all summer long. That's because slowly but surely the placement I was originally given (at Caritas) has fallen apart. I won't go into the details here (boring!) but the long-and-the-short of it is that there was no funding, no staff, no projects, and unfair and unachievable expectations of me, to name just a few things. So officially as of this week I am no longer working there. It all ended amicable (at least I think it did) and I am sure that no one there was surprised to see me go. I'd transitioned to part time status a few months ago and haven't even gone in over the last few weeks because there's been no work.

So, now I feel like I'm a little bit at a crossroads. I am hoping that tomorrow I can meet with the executive director of the organization I want to work full time with. I'm assuming that they'll happily take free labor, but I really, really hope that they can find a way to put my talents and skills to work appropriately. Sometimes I feel like it's always extremes here-either I'm expected to rescue an entire organization (which is just a little over my head), or I'm only seen as a good English speaker to write and edit documents. I feel like there's got to be something in between, something I can do here that makes me feel competent, yet also challenges me and keeps me interested and wanting to do more.

So, here's to yet another new beginning. I'm pretty ready to transition out of continual "new beginnings" and into "smooth sailing," so hopefully this is the start of that.