Sunday, June 29, 2014

Lulu Graduation Festivities

This past week has been a busy one for Lulu Mwanza. Four of our girls groups finished their cycle of classes. It usually takes about 9 months to get through all of the lessons. Once they have finished the lessons, girls can continue but it's a big accomplishment to stick through it and the participants really go through a transformation in the process. So, we like to celebrate the occasion and give them a well-deserved party. Well, actually 3 days of partying.

Monday's Netball Match

Since there are too many girls for everyone to attend the actual graduation, we invited all the girls in all 8 of the Lulu groups to a netball match at the beginning of the week.

 Corine explaining how the matches would be organized.

One of the pillars of the program is cooperation and this a great opportunity for the girls to get to know each other, root for other teams, and have some healthy competition. And, boy did they compete!

Eliza gets taken out but the game continues.

During a break in the matches, the girls from Bwiru sing a victory song while others make plans for the rest of the game or are resting till it's their turn to play.

It was really fun to watch, though, and as one team got knocked out of competition, they'd immediately start rooting for another team. In the end one of our newest groups were the victors.

Mecco celebrating their big win.

Cooking and Prep for Gradation

On Tuesday a select number of graduating girls and facilitators gathered to bake the cakes, cooking and sambusas for graduation. It's another added "gift" to the girls who have had good attendance and have showed initiative throughout the year for them to learn how to bake cakes and cookies. Cakes are a hot commodity here in Mwanza and they are very expensive, even for a simple sheet cake. So learning to bake is a skill they could use to start a business in their communities.

Did you know you can bake cakes and cookies are charcoal grills? There are a number of ways you can do it, but here's how we did it.

First you have to fill a tray with sand. We just dug it up in the yard.

That tray will be placed on a charcoal grill until it is very hot.

Then, once you've put greased newspaper in the bottom of a pan and filled it with your batter, place that on the hot sand.

Cover the lid with hot coals and a stone and leave it to cook until done.

I'd heard about this method before but hadn't had the chance to try it out. I have to say it was a whole lot easier than I had expected and the cakes turned out really well. The girls did all the work and were so proud of their accomplishments!

Wednesday Graduation

First of all, about graduation I have to say that the girls take all the credit for it being a success. They planned, organized, and put together everything with guidance and technical advice from Corine. But all the work and planning was done by them. They researched and reserved the hall rental; planned, bought and put up all the decorations; wrote out the schedule of ceremonies; MCed the event; planned and put on skits, songs and dances. All of it was so great and the best part was just the self confidence they showed. You could just see the pride on their faces. This is a far step away from the normal behavior of Tanzanian young women, who often hide their faces if asked a question and are discouraged from making direct eye contact with people.

Teddy icing the cakes, which we'd made the day before.

Easter hanging balloons.

Finishing touches on the head table.

The ceremony going on.

The girls from Ilamela group danced.

Eliza, Teddy, and Anisisa sing a song of thanks for the Lulu program.

It was an action-packed week and my body is paying the price for it this weekend (I'm sick in bed as I write this) but what a great week and what a wonderful tribute to some special girls.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Corpus Christi 2014

In Catholic news, today is the feast of Corpus Christi. In the US we don't usually do much to commemorate this feast day, but in much of the rest of the world parades and processions are usually held. In our own church in Mabatini there is always a procession in between the two Masses, where the Eucharist is paraded down the street and a large line of people go before and after, singing songs and making joyful sounds. It's always kinda cool to watch*.

The Eucharist is processed under this tent with incense being spread before it. You can also see the children in front with white shirts and red skirts/pants. Those are the Eucharistic dancers, who were throwing flower petals in front as they processed. Love them.

The line is actually quite long; it snakes around out of the picture and then back in again.

A video of the procession coming into the church.

*Even if it means that Mass is then 3 1/2 hours.

Monday, June 16, 2014

International Day of the African Child

Did you know June 16 is the Day of the African Child? In honor of the day, let's meet some of the familiar African child faces from our neighborhood. What better reason to celebrate than these cuties! And aren't we lucky we get to see them every day.

Maende in fancy shoes. He has a wonderful personality and is just old enough to be coming into his own.

Paulo. His parents own the little shop where we buy our daily staples (bread, eggs, flour, matches, etc.).

Sifa, which means praise. She's a girl. She comes with her mom each week for tutoring class with Chris.

Last but certainly not least, Stevu. I like to think of him as kinda the mayor of the kids in the neighborhood. His mom also owns another little shop where we buy our staples when Mama Paulo is out.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Lulu Merchandise for Sale (Limited quantities)

After I posted the picture of our Lulu booth at last weekend's craft fair, I received some feedback from folks interested in purchasing items. As I'm sure most understand, shipping from Africa isn't really very reliable, nor is it cost effective. So I have to rely on travelers coming to and from our area to transport any items going to the US. Luckily, such an opportunity is coming up next month! So, I present to you pictures of Lulu items that I have for sale.

Crocheted Bag/Purse (with lining and zipper), Stuffed Lizard made from kitenge African fabric, and Small Gift Bags made out of kitenge

Closeup of Bag/Purse (also available in pink)

Closeup of Lizards

Closeup of Gift bags

Crocheted Baby and Infant Sweaters and Caps and Balls made of kitenge African fabric

Necklaces with handmade beads of kitenge African fabric (available in 3 lengths: 25-, 30- and 40-bead count) and Greeting Cards (cards available are Christmas cards, flowers, wedding, and baby)

Closeup of the cool beads with various fabrics/colors

Mobiles with birds, stars or hearts (available in 2 lengths: 3- and 5-count) made of kitenge African fabric and bracelets with handmade beads of kitenge African fabric

Closeup of shorter Mobiles

Closeup of longer Mobiles

Closeup of Bracelets

Plastic Ball with rattle inside made of recycled plastic bags

Plastic Bag/Basket made of recycled plastic bags

I have limited quantities and the space in the suitcase will be small, so big orders for churches or other groups will have to wait for another time (though you can certainly let me know if this is something you're interested in for the future). Leave a comment in the message box, or email me at kreid(at) with questions or more detailed pictures and to discuss payment options.

Also, here's a picture of the girls in Mabatini* making cards last week. I love that they're all wearing their Lulu t-shirts, which say Ushirikiano (cooperation), Uthubutu (assertiveness), and Ubunifu (creativity)!

Finally, here's a Lulu baby, one of many. Queenie gets a little bored during our lessons so we tried to entertain her on this day by putting chalk on her face. She loved it!

Asante sana (thank you so much) on behalf of the girls for your support!

*Just to be clear, the handcrafts pictured above are made by all Lulu girls in our various groups around Mwanza.