Arrived in Arusha after a very long but comfortable flight, next to a German woman who was on her way here to help with water treatment and delivery. The night before I was very trepidatious, wondering what it would be like, thinking of the stories I’d heard from others. There was a little drama at the airport, as one of my bags (luckily the one full of gifts, not necessities) had been left in Amsterdam by KLM. So after some paperwork, I joined my fellow volunteers and our two counterparts (escorts) for an exercise in creative packing. We stuffed 5 adults, and a boatload of luggage into a Rav4 for the 25 miles trip into town. We’re staying at this hostel at a Catholic school in a lovely part of town, and it’s easy to walk around town. The city center is tiny, crowded, dirty and busy, but so exciting. Street vendors are constantly trying to sell us things, and I have promised all of them that I will be happy to buy their merchandise later, since I will be here for a month.
The foliage in Arusha is stunning! I’m so glad I came at the tail end of the rainy season, it’s gorgeous here. My fellow volunteers and our local counterparts are all really nice. Right now we’re hanging out in the office of a Scottish Safari tour operator, who is nice enough to let me use his DSL. I am loving the people, and the extreme difference of the culture here. This week we are in training, learning some Swahili, and about to learn the program we’ll be teaching. I was under the impression it’d be like Planned Parenthood, teaching high-school kids, but it’s even better. What GSC does here is have us teach a carefully selected group of people from certain villages, who are then certified to teach the course to others, thus making it exponential education.
Frida, the boss, told us that there is also a lecture presented by a local healthy, HIV-positive woman who tells the trainees of her experiences. Luckily, HIV testing here is very cheap, the cost of a can of Red Bull even free for students! So the only thing keeping people from testing is fear and ignorance. Frida told us that the clinic has reported to her the number of people who came for testing after hearing our talks. So I’m happier than ever to be a part of this organization.
Tanzanian people are gorgeous, even if most of the men are shorter and younger than me. Some of these women make me wish I was a model scout, as they are devastatingly gorgeous. The street kids are interesting, and I’m glad that my counterpart Euphrasia (awesome name!) told me the story.Yes, there are many AIDS orphans here, but it is still possible for a kid to go to school without money or sponsorship, so the children who say they cannot afford their school fees are just making excuses. Most primary schools in Tanzania are boarding schools, to keep the critters out of trouble, and also to encourage inter-tribal interaction. Kids are usually sent to boarding schools far from home. Street children are often drug addicts, just like in “Darwin’s Nightmare,” so I want to find a way to help them find recovery, but the best I can do for now is tell them to go to school.