Friday, December 28, 2012

An End to the Holidays

The holidays are over and we're immediately back to reality.

Painting on the 27th

We hope to get the painting done today so we can clean and move the furniture back in. We have someone coming to stay with us for a week starting Sunday and are also having a New Year's party on Monday. So we've got a deadline! Then we can jump back into the rest of holiday spirit. To keep that momentum going, here's a video of our Christmas sleigh ride to Musoma last week:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chris's Birthday

We had a great day yesterday for Chris's birthday, celebrating in a very different way. We are in Musoma for a brief pre-holiday visit and managed to coincide it with the annual shopping spree with the kids from Lisa's Pride. Taking 25 children living with HIV/AIDS shopping in the market was certainly an experience! We had a great time.

They each had 25,000 shillings (about $15 US) to spend as they wished. I was in a group with 4 girls ages about 12 years. They each bought brand new dresses with little coverups and used shoes. After the shopping we shared a meal and because it was Chris's birthday we brought a cake and sang happy birthday. What a great day!

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot (?) Like Christmas

I haven't made my usual assortment of cookies this year, but I've managed to get a few done.

Have you heard the Christmas story where dogs pull the sleigh? Totally true.
My cookie cutters are dogs, seals, fish and (of course) lions. So ask me someday to tell you about the Christmas and Hanukah stories that involve these animal. Have you heard about how the seals originally had the idea to light the lamps at Hanukah? Or how lions help to keep the elves regulated and working at a quick pace? True.

Mango Cookie
I had to use some mangos so tried out these cookies. Meh...

Christmas Staple-Mudballs
Old tried-and-true.

Singing (Badly) Christmas Carols
The annual Fortes Christmas party lived up to the hype. Open bar. Great food. Total Christmas ambiance. Wish we could fast-forward to next year's already.

Pretty Sweet Shindig
Chris approved.

I'd much rather think of all these Christmasy things than what our house looks like right now.

Living Room

Dinning room

Wood paneling removed (and sitting for 3 days waiting for someone to come collect it!) and cement cleaned up a bit. Next is to paint, though I can't imagine how many coats it'll need to actually absorb and look semi-clean. Fa la la la la la la la la.

Friday, December 14, 2012

And So It Begins

With all the bugs and such I've not had too much time to tackle these mangos. But I've gotten a good start.

Cutting up Mangos
And so it begins.

Pureeing Mango
Making puree.

What does Chris think about all this mango? "It's alright," he says.

I forgot to take a picture of this because I was so mangoed-up and sticky, but I also made this. I had to doctor it up a bit African-style (used pepitas instead of cashews, a chinese-type cabbage similar to bok choy, and green pepper instead of red). It was really good though. I'll definitely it make again. Maybe even tonight.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Third World Problems... Again

I don't think that I've mentioned our recent bug problems on this space. Chris has talked about it on Facebook and he put up some pictures and a video, but I think I've been too busy being stressed about mangos. This is a reincarnation of the bugs that visited us back in October, which you might've heard about already. Long story-short, for a few days in October and then again this month, we've had termite-like bugs swarming out of our wood-paneled walls in the evenings. The bugs are relatively harmless (well, except that they eat through wood and have ruined the walls) but it's quite a nuisance and messy and destroying the house. In October the bugs came for 2 days and then that was it. So we didn't really do anything about it. This time it's going on 5 days and the number of bugs have been increasing each time. Last night we noticed that the bugs are flying out and then burrowing into the walls in another spot.

Here's what I'm talking about:

We've been trying to get the landlord to take care of the problem but as we saw the situation getting worse every night we decided to take action. Today we've had an exterminator spray the room and the perimeter of the house and this weekend we're having the paneling ripped out. Hopefully, hopefully, hopefully this will be the end of our shida ya wadudu (bug problem)!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

International Human Rights Day

December 10th is International Human Rights Day. It also marks the end of a two week campaign called 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), which started on November 25th, International Day Against Violence Against Women.  This 16-day period was started as an international campaign by the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue, strengthen local work on GBV around the globe, link local and international GBV work, and other key issues targeting local and international GBV work.

Before moving to Tanzania I worked as a community educator in the field of violence against women. Through this work I became very close to these issues and developed a passion for the field specific to human rights. Moving to Tanzania has enlightened me to the fact that the struggle toward social justice is the same all over the world. Our cultures may be vastly different, we may live drastically different lives and problems may be more dire in some locations, but ultimately the equality and social justice issues that people face are the same globally and a similar mindset that supports inequality in America is the same as in Tanzania. 

Everyday for the past five years I have been listening to people's stories about the atrocities they face: a woman who has been beaten all day by her husband and ran away leaving her 10-month-old child at home; a friend of a family who's child has been stolen and brought to another town to be sold across the border; a victim of violence who has been charged by the police in order to file a police report; a child who has been molested for decades by a trusted family member. All of these things are normal circumstances for people all over  the world. It breaks my heart every time and I still don't understand how we can live in a world where these things happen with such frequency. 

But what breaks my heart just as much are the apathy and doubt that the general public feels about such things. I can't tell you the number of times I've found myself in heated debates with people who think we are fighting for social justice by pushing down other people (i.e. that we are trying to take away rights from men) or who try to claim that someone deserved to be hurt because they were in that situation in the first place or who say that people need to be hit or humiliated so they know they are loved. It's these kind of false, hurtful claims that continue to allow violence to happen.

I don't have anything profound or thoughtful to say. I just didn't want the day to completely pass without calling attention to the issue of human rights and to challenge the few readers at this space to do their little part. It doesn't need to be anything big or profound that you do. If everyone corrected misstatements and misperceptions whenever they heard them, we would no longer live in a world that supports inequality. 

Doing something says something. But doing nothing also says something.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I Wasn't Lying!


These are actually from a friend. This doesn't include what's growing on our tree. Keep the (cooking) suggestions coming.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Taking Suggestions

Winter means ripe mangos in Tanzania and our mango tree is just about to explode. I picked 6 mangos today (to add to the 5 or 6 we already had) and there seems to be no limit to the amount to what is left on the tree.

So, I'm trying to think of what to make to use up all this delicious goodness and I'm open to suggestions. I've thought about jam. Or pie. But somehow I'm just not satisfied with those. Any suggestions? Leave it in the comments (feel free to give recipes too).

Setting a Mood

We are trying to get in the holiday spirit here, so maybe putting up the tree will help. We're lucky that we inherited this tree from past MKLMers. I don't think there's anything cuter in the world. It even came with the tiniest ornaments. I love it more than it's reasonable to!

Sorting the lights
Sorting lights.

The cutest little ornaments
The cutest little ornaments.

Needing a warm place to cuddle up to
Burr. It's cold out!

christmas cuteness
So quaint. 

Friday, December 07, 2012

3rd World Problems

I don't think I'll ever again forget how lucky I am to come from a place where access to clean water is a given.

By the way, this water incident was just after another incident with the bugs crawling out of the walls. Theeeeeeyyyyy'rrrrre baaaaaack.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

In Preparation for Christmas

Sparkly nails! It just seemed like the right thing to do.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Not Genetically Modified

I just counted 28 seeds in my little tangerine-type orange this morning. That's not counting the few I'm sure I swallowed, so let's round it up to an even 30.