Hello and welcome to November!
I am shocked it's come so quickly and am now scrambling to think of all the things I have to do with the kids before I leave in ONE MONTH! I am so sad to think of leaving and when I sit with the kids I get all emotional knowing I won't be able to see them after I've gone. That's life, and I'm trying to "detach" otherwise I'm going to feel bad or the poor guy who has to sit next to me on the flights home.
I wanted this blog to be a sort of "Ode to Volunteers" because I am constantly inspired by the people that are working here and spend all the time and money it takes to get here (especially since you have to get about 12 vaccinations).
The Volunteer House is about a block away from the Baby Home in Pasiansi-Mwanza, Tanzania, East Africa. It is a very large house with four bedrooms: one double which Ciara and I sleep in, two singles (twin bed sleeping one and full bed sleeping two), and a bunk room sleeping four. There are no vacancies at the moment which means there are interesting people to get to know and more resources, as everyone brings with them different "essentials." It is transient in nature because people come and go on schedules from around the world, but this particular group has been together for a month with only a few additions. The house is an energy vaccuum. No matter how long you stay you are always feeling very tired (because of what we are doing all day?)and some like to think it's the altitude or some other phenomenon "in the air."
Once we've gotten past the usual "where are you from?,"-"how did you find out about FA?"-"How long will you stay?"-"What kind of chocolates did you bring?"-conversations we usually talk about our crazy shifts and the cute things the kids did that day. You might think a group of nine people would run out of dirty-nappie horror stories but we never do and as I mentioned in a previous blog we will stay up late talking about the kids' milestones or blossoming personalities. Now we are at a stage where the "tiny babies" who sat in their blankets and barely moved or made a sound are heavy enough to feel when you pick them up and have started to smile and laugh and form sounds of their own. It's strange and exciting for us to watch them grow right in front of our eyes!
We are with these people (actually all women) everyday, all day long. If something so awesome and exhausting wasn't bringing us so close together I think on some days (some of us) might have killed one another, but we all get along very well. Currently we are composed of Ciara and myself (she's the best roommate ever), Erika the volunteer coordinator, a few fellow Americans from Washington Hannah and Melissa, two German girls Johanna and Ramona, and the newest additions from the UK Alice and Izzy.
At any given time we can be found doing "Insanity" with Ciara (a crazy workout video), reading, doing crossword puzzles, watching the first episode of Friends over and over (we have no remote and the TV crashes frequently so you have to constantly start it over from the beginning), looking at the work/activity schedule for the week, working on the baby's Life Books, getting ready to go to the market, looking at rain outside (the storms here are amazing), trying to get the toilet to flush, sleeping, making tea for the askari, baking "the Tanzanian-version" of whatever we are trying to cook, reading Cosmo's "35 ways to make you Happier" and mentally adjusting the 'Buy something nice for yourself at Macy's' to 'Go to the market in Mwanza and get a few slices of cheese.'
Reminiscing about home we often find that we all have a lot in common and that we are thankful for living this simple life and for being in a place where simple things make you happy and there's nothing to do in the face of a problem except laugh it off. Most of the volunteers have learned to appreciate our new home for what it is and realize that while the standards of living are much lower, we live in a house that is very safe and a far cry from the slums.
We laugh about our ever-gurgling stomachs and cling to our TUMS like it was gold. The "Africa-sick" is a constant reference to our weird ailments and has become a source of entertainment. Trying to figure out the culprit "dudu" (Bug!) that's responsible for everyone's discomfort and being thankful that we don't have this-or-that symptom on top of it infiltrates daily discussions.