Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Note About This Blog

This is the blog I kept when I stayed in Tanzania for 4 1/2 months last year. To make sense of it you need to click on the first month and start reading at the bottom of the page, working your way forwards. I don't believe I ever explain in the blog, but I was staying with an African friend Deus and his family. I met Deus on the train while he was visiting the US to present at schools about the organization he worked for. Deus worked for Roots and Shoots, which is part of The Jane Goodall Institute, as a Regional Coordinator. He convinced me to take on a volunteer project of my own while I was in Tanzania. I started the Musoma Girls Library Program, which provides 100 underpriveleged girls with library memberships and some tutoring help. I also never clarified but Juliana is still working on the project now that I'm back and shes done a lot with it that I never would have been able to so I apologize for any posts that talk about firing her.
Also the first month or two of posts from Tanzania are a little sporadic and grumpy. I was really homesick and culture shocked when I arrived and I got a little depressed and bitter and wasn't acting like myself at all or even really aware of what I was doing. So keep that in mind if it seems kind of inconsistent.
I honestly don't know why I'm writing this since noone looks at this blog anymore, but I just thought if anyone wanted to visit it in the future, hopefully this would clear some things up.
Stephanie :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

this fucking nauseasness sucks

its seriously kicking my ass. this will be the second attempt to get all the photos up that fails. its coming soon. ive only got about 5 more i want up and then i'll give this blog up to the web to swallow forever. it was nice seeing my friends and that zach and michael came to greet me. i'd blog about africa but its kind of hard when you're not there. my rooms fucking awesome now. it has a rug. and my mom bought a goose. not in the room.... i'd blog about my cat but who likes people who blog about their cats seriously. enough is enough. quit reading and scroll.

me, the old lady is called Bibi, okay all old ladies are called Bibi i dont know what im talking about, she smokes cigarettes indoors and always tried to bum 20 or 30 cents off me, she works for this family looking after their kid while they're at work, their kids the one on my lap, John, Stans on Bibis lap, don't know why he's in there. mama john in purple and baba john with the closed eyes. Johnny calls me vanny. and sta calls me shet-daaanny.
me, kalole and odangya. not spelled right. odangayas a goofball.

the bathroom/showers
the bed next to mine, alternating sleepers between nangetta, jane and vicky.
that would be mine (and mamaSta and Stans bed) buckets are filled with water. everyones got so much stuff and theres so many people with so little room everyones things are packed into suitcases they never unpack that reach the ceilings.
Dia and my mchumba Maliki
"library of the region"
gates of book paradise
damn they're rushing and shoving to get to the camera

like i said, its all green
is this what they learn in class?
or in life?

a girl getting her photo shot for the library ID card down the block from the library
my girls reading at the library.
and when the tables fill up they sit at the walls in chairs.
the pots a shinin. kind of a stupid picture. the front of mamajohns hoteli (hoteli means restaurant in Swahili not hotel, go figure)
no one got it.
i cant remember if ive posted this one. a darn near empty butchers
3 3/4s of the girls waiting in line to get their picture taken for the library ID cards
me and stanley. no im not biting him
really shitty night time myspace shoot wih me and the kids. you can turn my camera around so you see what its taking a picture of, i.e.. see it take a picture of you and the kids were all about that, johnnys a few months older and more clued in, he'd be like 'hey look theres Stan and hey look theres johnny', and stan would just look and be like 'hey look theres a kid!"
yeah i do actually do work. sort of, of course i could have just been writing daily crap spews sort of like this blog but more trivial. i do that a lot
i took this picture because something in the back of my head told me there would come a day when i would be amazed that this was what i considered a very nice, very clean bathroom. this is top end shitting.
vicky cooking indoors, must of'v been a rainy day.
mhmmm thats how it looks pretty much, bathing cooking cleaning
thats vicky
ok ready go
that ferocious look is an oddly captured yawn. and thats the Stan lets go find you since pants motion.
i dont know why, i looked up and thought this would be a cool picture.
another of the home in mwanza. more rocks.
what you see when you step out the front door in mwanza...
and finally the bathroom there about 100 feet off from the house. im really in love with the whole place.
one view from the home in the rocks in mwanza, like i said 12 bucks a month guys.
this is mamaagus and mamatajis business: gutting the fish
and then cooking em
the white home is the one where i was sleeping. this totally doesnt depict how high up it is. those pointy rocks in the background have a wandering goat family on them.
i like zebras the best.

the prize banana

like i said, its green, theres rocks. rents cheap. foods cheap. lifes hard. weeds cheap. lets go!

the price of banana. oh sheesh.
im here. that'd be home. and my hair smells like shampoo which is something i absolutely do not know what to do about. except maybe smile. because after 4 months and 11 days with want of a nice conditioner, to use one and feel that prickly dead hair on the back of your neck at night turn into silk is like a dream. im not exactly departed from america nor arrived here. nor do i think i was ever truly arrived there. i took my shower and i kept all the water in the bottom of the tub for a while (or maybe its still there ?) because it seemed like such a shame to lose so much water. i asked myself questions such as "where in the world does the heat in this water come from?" (first hot shower in 4 months is a big deal) and "does anyone know how many buckets this could fill?". oh lord.
my cousin said the culture shock could last a week. i week of soaking up all this excess. after that awkward open mouthed crawlspeedstroll through the entire airport in Amsterdam and then sitting down to weep in public about things like lollipops and stuffed bears and that stupid donate your pennies to the orphans box. you know the pennies left over from buying yourself an extra souvenir, and hey why not a bottle of whiskey and a oprah book club book you'll never finish. all the more pennies. i cried today in a room filled with more people than have probably ever seen me cry in my entire life. If the whole airport counts as a room.
America = Enough ++
Library books, birth control, dolls or even food are not going to balance this world out. If a continent could sink by the weight of its own feasts and excess I'd have had nowhere to land. This would have all sunk into the ocean, as it should.
I read most of my blog a few days ago. Everything but the most current month, in order. I realized only how little I'd actually exposed when i thought it had been so much and also an ass i sound like.
I left on 11/11. i guess im lucky. wait i know im lucky.
It dawned on me yesterday how controlled an airplane environment is. We are all so soulless and sleepless we never even notice. It(wa)s my secret belief that they keep the air conditioning on because they have some company policy that they have to throw away all the pillows and blankets from every flight whether opened or not. instead of letting themselves feel really wasteful they just try and make you really cold. It also occurred to me that they turned on the lights at some ungodly hour, not because now a decent majority of the populace was awake but because now, somewhere on their schedules it was penciled in "feeding time". So we are all baby birds inside this mother bird waiting for her to puke up stale biscuits from the depths of her very controlled and cold bowels so we can grunt, wrap ourselves in our little blankeys and got back to sleep. note to self: cynicism doesn't win you any friends.
Any seedlings of ideas that I held in my stomach that justice was a real thing died today in the Schiperol Airport. I saw all the toys set out for Christmas. All the white angel babies in outfits that cost 3 weeks dinner whos parents would surely buy them all these toys. I thought of Chausiku, whos got to be about 5. How she doesn't eat every morning, how she wears rags, how she wont go to school and how she begged me please just send me one dolly. one dolly, two hotwheels for the boys and a plastic gun for Kili. better than Christmas. What is this shit? How do we really live in this world?
I encountered more in that airport then a beautiful African child can dream of in his life. here the fat use machines to help them walk. The excess is a big stinking bag of waste. It felt like watching a rape. How can I/we be a part of this. Fuck enough of this quiet bystander shit. I don't want to swallow any of this world as the way it is. I dont want to swallow this any more than I do tree branch welts. Let my anger find me soon.
Anarchy seemed absolutely urgent this morning. Strolling the airport, looking at the everyman, his rich coat and I thought - he doesnt even know. He certainly didn't decide this world "order" The leaders made it this way. Every president we've ever had and Afrikas still throwing all their chips at Obama. Voting is being a pillar that supports the way the world works. Or you do it every day in a hundred other ways.
I went to Africa and so much of me was always somewhere else. Now its gone from me and it feels my skins been ripped off.
Forgiveness is a load of crap. I want to tear down this society with one hand and build up theres with another. I want to send enough dollies for Chau and every girl on that street. I should have sent Stan back here instead of myself. We disguise how well we rob Africa, so well the African can gawk at all we have, where did it all come from? Your soil! We're just stock pilling our selection of your soil.
A sign in the airport warned me of the lurking CCTVs. So good to be back in the land of big brother, always on my side. I couldn't help but wonder, are the cameras in the Christmas trees? He knows if you've been sleeping, he knows if you're awake, he knows if you gave your pennies to the orphans or just bought yourself a bagel. This place is a landslide.
Theres not a lot in an airport to ease roaring compassion: I can read a book by the Dali Lama, or donate my nickels to orphans. There is a lot to fill the hole in me where all my sins should be - booze, hoarding, cigarettes, diamonds, gluttony, sex - okay maybe not sex- but aren't Ads porn? A fake blond woman surveyed me today. The point being to see how much stuff I bought, I think (like are all these swirly dizzying ads enough or should we up it a notch?) I must have failed. I said I had no money to even buy food. "Ha!" was the response I got. Let me be here just long enough to gather my friends and then we will leave again.
We must be so cheap. rich and cheap. shallow as a puddle. The flat puddles out on the tarmac. I thought I was going to cry of happiness to get back to all this Convience and Choices (Laziness and Excess).
I'm afraid I've swallowed it. When I first arrived I feared to take my ipod out of my ears (yeah i see the irony) Had to hear the same Wooden Wand songs over and over becuase there seemed to be no other option. Once in the pause between songs I heard "She really sprayed him with perfume?!? Oh brother!" A family joking but at the time I didn't understand any of the words so i just walked slower and hated more. Maybe hate is a heavy thing. I dont really know for now its all gone out of me. In the airport before sunrise, crying and raving up a storm. Flipping off Jack Johnson on the radio, George Bush on the TV and Barbie smiling in the shop window. And now its all gone. Although my hungers still here. I'll give it a month to see if my soul dries out like a raisin under the burning sun of greedy capitalism and a hundred billion automobiles.

i had planned to add a lot more pictures. but since i first arrived ive had that extreme salivating going on that happens only just before you puke, it comes it goes, right now its here. no puke yet, i dont think theres anything any me. two days of airplane food? or two days without sleep? is the pain in my stomach really only hunger still? looking into a cabinet and realizing i can just take something made and eat it without any effort is still to mind boggeling to participate in, although i things will eventually resolve themselves on a side that makes my belly happy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


im coming home. im not sure i get it. but here i am with my plane ticket, my stupid souveniors, my taxi coming at 9:30 am, half an hour early in case theres traffic, my pictures, a slightly full belly, completely full bags. all so very strange. do i really have to go?
whatever. i'll process it all sometime next month.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

things fall into utter confusion

so i went to the library today, mainly just to return my books and say goodbye and they informed me that for two days students had showed up, like 40 of them waiting for someone to pay for their memberships (that would be Juliana) and noone came. its kind of like getting slapped in the face. none of the schools are done except the one i did myself.
this might be overreacting. yeah she visited two schools and told the kids to come but then she wasnt there, so maybe something came up, as it seems to do with her and she'll finish it. i was talking to Deus's sister about the problem and she offered to do all the work getting the kids the memberships. I was going to give it to her until Deus mentioned (yeah he waited til now to mention it) that hes already given Juliana the 300 so dollars of the memberships for the 4 schools remaining. So we just have to wait while she does it at snail pace. The memberships are one year from the day you buy it so one schools going to be renewed like a month before the others. And Julianas phone isn't working today (Okay thats not her fault as much as just a common Tanzanian thing).
Deus doesn't seem to realize I dont have the resources or experience to conduct this thing really professionally. If I could just buy the memberships/photos and then leave it alone until next year I'd be totally happy. Seeing as just getting the memberships is taking so fucking long. STRESS.
That being said after this month Juliana is fired. I'll ask Deus's sister to stop by once a month and see if the visitors books full, leave her some money to buy new ones, leave her the librarians phone number, leave her my email and this time next year we'll find someone to check all the records and renew the memberships. Deus made the point we need someone to check it because how would we even know if a student died, which almost got me for a minute but then i thought, sometimes you feel the like the information you have is important but what will you do with it other than know it. This would be a case of that kind of information. Okay a students dead. Thats pretty horrible. I'm glad we paid someone 500 dollars this year so that we know this now instead of October. not happening. I'm sorry if this disappoints any of the donors. The memberships will get bought. Photos will be taken. Julianas will be given notice. The extra money we've raised will be used next year. Books will be read. Basi (thats enough).

Friday, November 7, 2008

DJ youre fired

so i had this great idea to save hundreds of dolllars. i want to fire that lady we hired to look after my project and then email me every month to say if the kids are coming. for one thing Deus informed me yesterday she doesn't have an email. not to mention shes flaky and slow and i dont have a lot of faith in her. i'll pay her to finish up this month. i dont even think all the schools have been done and i was sure they would be while i was in kigoma... last week. what do we need someone checking every month, lets just relax and then pay someone nicely to go through and tally everything and visit the schools this time next year. the project isn't going to be sustainable if we're using all this money on someone every month.
i havent actually talked to deus about this yet. hes hard to get a hold of.
hopefully hes working on getting my ticket today. yesterday they said the bus was full. so it might be go a day late a risk it if theres a breakdown or stand up the whole day in the bus aisle. both sound awful but im a worrier so i'd rather stand.
i took pictures with everyone this morning so i'll come home and show you all.
see you so veryvery soon,

Thursday, November 6, 2008

to one and all

all my emails i try to send are coming back as delivery failures. it isnt just me