Thursday, May 30, 2013

I Swear I Will Post More Than Just Cat Pictures in the Coming Posts

I won't turn into a person who only posts cat pictures on her blog. But that guy is so cute and he's had a very active past few weeks.

Yesterday he experienced the trauma of being neutered, poor fellow. I thought it might be of interest to at least 1 or 2 people out there that they do the surgery (all vet care, actually) straight from the home. It's so great because we don't have to go anywhere! So the vets came over yesterday and straight up snipped that junk on the dining room table. Bros, we eat there! But it worked out, I guess.

Setting up the table. To think, we eat there!
They were very careful and meticulous.
Getting ready. The younger intern wore a McDonald's apron. So THAT'S the secret ingredient!

Wembley knows something's up! Run little guy!
Wembley knew something was up.

The surgery starts. Out of respect for the little guy and his manhood, I took no more shots.
 Doing the surgery.

The poor little guy was totally stoned all day and night yesterday. Today's he's been moving around and meowing again. I've been at the office all day so I've not been able to keep tabs on him, but Chris said that he's super cuddly and drooling. I think he'll make a full recovery.

And, we managed to eat dinner at that same table last night.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

Wembley sure is a party animal. He took Memorial Day by his little kitty feet and CRUSHED it!

What is this America of which you speak?

Crushing in progress.

Back feet of death!

Get it!

Are you watching me?

Playing with a flag umbrella

Hope you all had 1/2 as much fun this Memorial Day as Wembley did.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

10th Anniversay Weekend

Last weekend Chris and I managed to sneak away for 2 nights to a lodge outside the Serengeti to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, which went relatively uncelebrated a few weeks back. While it was not as nice as the places we stayed in the park, the lodge was nothing to complain about. We enjoyed resting, watching movies, playing games, and being a tourist for a few days.

Chris always wins at Mille Bornes. He claims it's because he's a good player, but I can't see how skill comes into a game of chance. He can be pretty obnoxious about it too.

The DW strikes again

We took a boat trip into Speke Bay to see some birds. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed just being in nature for a few hours, quite a contrast to our life in Mwanza!

On our boat trip we saw a boat of birds. They must've been sight-seeing too.
The lake was so calm and quiet.

We saw a lot of cormorant.

Fishermen. These guys put a net out into the lake, probably a mile or 2 out and then spend the rest of the day hauling it back in!
No wonder fishermen have such huge arms. These guys take a boat out a few miles into the lake and drop in a huge net. Then they return to shore and spend the rest of the day pulling it back in again. The whole operation can take up to 6-8 hours!

On a bird-watching trip into the lake.
The happy couple. We've changed a bit in 10 years!

The fishing village
The village was relatively quite because it was mid-morning. Most of the fish come in in the morning, so that's when it's really bumping.

Our tour of the lake was conducted by a young woman who volunteers for a community group that gives tours to tourists. This village community was discovering that their local residents were begging from the tourists who were passing through on their way to the Serengeti. They thought that wasn't the most appropriate way to go about things, so they organized this community group to give tours of the lake and the village. The proceeds go toward their new Montessori school, loans to business women living with HIV/AIDS, and to other helpful projects in the area. What a great way to use a resource to their benefit (the resources of both the tourists and the village's beautiful surroundings!).

Tanzania is such a beautiful place. The development in this area is happening so fast and there is so little planning or concept of preserving the environment. I hope that people can see the value of this precious place and that they will include it in their vision as we move forward.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Do You Support Missions?

Really great post over at Jamie the Very Worst Missionary. Whether you're a missionary or not, whether you're religious or not, I always think she's got great things to say in general about a lot of different topics. This time around she's encouraging people to take a critical eye to the missionaries they support.* Here here. I couldn't agree more. In fact, I think if you support any cause (non-profit organization, church, political party, etc.) you should be sure there is at least some transparency.

Anyways, she says it all.

*By the way, thanks again to all our supporters. Seriously, y'all are great and I'm constantly baffled by your unyielding faith in us. I hope we live up to your trust.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Where Does Change Start

Yesterday my executive director and I went to a meeting of local community groups* in a nearby area. We were invited by the groups to hear about their work and to request our assistance with mobilizing their community to prevent violence in the home. These group members are all part of our We Can Campaign, which registers and supports local changemakers in various communities who agree to take a public stand against domestic violence and to influence their social networks to do the same. It's a grass-roots program to create a social movement toward change.

The group was saying that they are having trouble getting the word about the We Can Campaign out into their community because they don't have funds to hold community gatherings. My organization's executive director asked them about the messages toward violence in their homes. Do their children, wives, husbands, friends, etc. know about violence? Can they recognize it in the community? Inevitably most of them said no. The ED encouraged the community members to start with their own homes. It takes no money to teach our children, talk with our spouses, engage our friends and coworkers. It's a simple, yet complex way to get the word out and to start shifting the social paradigm that allows violence to continue in our communities.

It made me think if I've had a discussion lately with my family and friends about violence? If I had a child who saw bullying in school or was hit by a teacher would he/she come home and tell me he/she saw violence in school? If a friend of mine was talking about hiding money from his/her spouse, would I talk with him/her about the use of economic influence over their partner? There are so many discussions that need to happen every day in order to change these intrenched behaviors.

* These kinds of community groups are really common in this part of the world. Communities exist to help and support one another. People in this area often form communal groups/coops based on their work (for example, a farming cooperative). That group may be a part of a larger group of groups that support each other and lends help in larger community issues. It's a systemic way to ensure that when someone or some community is in need, everyone will have the support they need. This is a very effective way of helping one another in a world where structured support such as government or charitable assistance, bank support, etc. are ineffective.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

More pictures of the new house

We're settling into the new house slowly, slowly. I'm reluctant to post too many pictures because it's constantly changing as we move and remove things around to find the perfect location. But for now, here are a few shots (that are already outdated because we've shifted some things).

Master Bedroom
Master bedroom

Master bedroom

Hallway as you enter the house. Master bedroom immediately on right. Living room/dinning room/kitchen in the middle of the hall on the left. Main bathroom across the hall from the living room. At the end of the hall on each side is an extra bedroom (one will be an office).

Living Room/Dinning Room
Living Room/Dinning Room

Dinning Room

Kitchen (though we've moved the counter to the other wall now)
(We've moved the counter to the other side of the wall and we hope to put up shelves or something to have a little more storage.)

Also, here's a better picture of our new puppy before she got all weird looking with the skin infection.


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

At Work

Yesterday I managed to download this YouTube video* from the interwebs and show it at work to some of my coworkers. They were really engaged and had some excellent thoughts/feedback. They were surprised that we have the same issues with violence in America than they do in Tanzania. Most people in TZ think that everything in America is perfect and that relationships exist without any issues of power and control. My coworkers know that I used to work in sexual violence prevention, but I guess it still hasn't hit home that I was working with real people in situations of real violence.

Building the capacity of staff at work

As an adviser in my office, I try to open the eyes of my coworkers to understand more about the issues of violence all around the world and to help build their capacity to prevent violence in our communities here in northern TZ.

*Thanks, Paula, for posting the video on Facebook and giving me the idea to share it with my colleagues.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Avocados and Rancid Together Again for the Very First Time, Just Like Nyeusi and Smokey

Me & C in the new house
In the new house.

We're still unpacking the boxes and trying to figure out where to put things in a house that has no cabinets, closets or shelves. Right now the food and spices are all stored in boxes on the floor. But despite that we love the house. It's quieter, cozier, the water and electricity work, we have a working hot shower and a whole lot less mosquitoes. And now, we have this little lady!

Nyeusi wasn't quite sure at first so she hid under the truck *

Her name is Nyeusi, which means black in Swahili, because she was at a MK sister's house for a few months and they had to distinguish her from the other puppy who was white. Smokey and Nyeusi liked each other from the start and now they're BFFs, rolling on the ground and playing with each other. I'm so happy for Smokey because she's got a friend now and I think she'll be much happier with the company.

Smokey has the biggest grin on her face. She's so happy to have a new friend!
Check out that smile on her face! She was so excited!

*Nyeusi is recovering from some sort of skin infection that she's had for the past few weeks. Poor baby was a bloody, scabby mess. She's a lot better now and her fur is slowly growing back, but she kinda looks like a wrinkly old lady. We love her anyway and thinks she's just the cutest.