I am a fithy, sweaty beast, and it never gets better.

I've still not been able to read the comments. for some reason they take forever to load.

It's been a long weekend. I can't remember what day I wrote last. Friday was very intense for a variety of reasons. It was the first day I've cried. A lot.

We went to meet some of the home based care patients for Women in Action for Development (WIA), a group that GSC works with. There were maybe 25 women and 6 or 7 men there, all HIV positive. We sat together in a classroom and introduced ourselves to one another. We learned about what each of their occupations was, how they managed their HIV, and what their struggles were. they were so very happy to see us, and each one kept saying that we were welcome and that we should not forget them. we asked what we could do for them, and the resounding answer was that micro loans were the best thing they could receive. that way, both the women and the men can set up sustainable businesses like fruit stands or tailoring shops, and not need to rely upon handouts or otherwise. Some of them have small garden plots developed with the help of GSC's sustainable agriculture program. more on that later. After we talked and laughed with each other, they sang us a song in Swahili about how you should love people with HIV and not stigmatize them, and this was the first time i cried on Friday. I did take some video with my camera, so i hope to share it with you all sometime.

Forgive me if I sound a bit discombobulated. I'm really tired, hungry, and probably more than a bit dehydrated again.

It was a wonderful visit, and they asked us to come again before we go. i showed them pictures of my mchumba (fiance) and dogs, and one woman wanted to keep a picture of Chewy. Apparently in Swahili, Chewy means leopard. I don't know how to spell it though. I told them I would send them the pictures we took, and am very glad to have exchanged addresses. I hope to be able to continue relationships with these amazing women. every meeting is really amazing here, especially with women, because the Tanzanians have so much pride. everyone dresses beautifully, and greetings are incredibly important. it is very rude to speak to someone without having greeted them first.

Later in the afternoon we returned home to meet our homestay mamas. mine came running up to me and gave me a big hug. We chatted in broken English and broken Swahili (from me). Her daughter was also with her. I'm going to keep this short because I am so tired. Basically, we had a very long drive out to the end of one f the main roads, along a very bumpy dirt road, where the taxi kept bottoming out and mama kept repeating pole, pole (pole once is sorry, polepole is slowly). It seemed to be a subdivision of sorts we were entering, and some of the houses were huge and really nice and had electric fences on the tops of the walls. Interspersed between were some very ramshackle homes as well. We keep driving, and I keep hoping we are going to one fothe bigger gated homes. We pull up to a gate, which had some chipped stones and was a little ratty, so I thought, oh well, a little less nice, perhaps,but still gated, as most middle class homes are. oh no. we parked at the gate, but then we walked around to the side of the gate, and I saw my homestay. I have seen better shacks in The Deliverance. It was a literal shack, with wooden logs for walls with brown kraft-type paper stuffed between for insulation. the "wallpaper" inside was simply newspaper or other papers stapled to the logs inside. you couldn't see in the shack evening light because there are no windows. it was actually like a little shack compound, with a separate kitchen shack, another shack for one of the sons (the houseboy) and a teeny little outhouse. then there was some rusty metal nailed to a tree in a cube shape where you washed up. It took everything in me not to cry. I kept mumbling quite "asante"s as they showed me around, but it was really terrible. imagine the poorest person's home you've ever seen, and multiply it by 100, and picture it in Africa. It was bad.

I'm running out of time, so, long story short, I'm sitting in the kitchen shack with mama while she makes ugali for dinner, and I hear a racket of noise and squeals. "Rats!" she says, "we have lots of them!" Gulp. I can make it through the night, and I'll see the coordinator in the morning. I also had holes in my mosquito net, and one kept buzzing around my head, so i slept with a sheet over my head as well.

so saturday morning my mama and kaka (brother) had a friend drop me off a the GSC office. I was perfectly fine until they left, and someone asked how my homestay was, and I burst into tears. other people had hto showers, computers, electricity, running water. Not all, but some. But rats are a dealbreaker. Definite public health hazard, so I'm moving. I stay in the hostel again until we find a place for me. My stuff is at the homestay still, but we'll get it tomorrow. They said they have a litany of excuses for people changing homestays so no one gets offended. I have been on safari yesterday and today, so i camped out last night. i can't turn the italics off for some reason. sorry.

I'll have t write about the safari later. it was AWESOME. We saw several kinds of monkeys, giraffes galore, zebras, water buffalo, warthogs (so cute!), ditkis, and lots more. we went on a beautiful hike. Arusha National Park is incredibly diverse. I highly recommend it. I took pictures of the HCRL water bottle with giraffes and in front f Mt. Meru, just for fun. Kind of like the Amelie gnome, but an HCRL Nalgene. yes, I'm a dork.

There are a lot of things that happen here that we say "this is Africa" to. Just a moment ago a brass ban d in the back of a pickup rolled down the street playing. I think there was a wedding.

i muist go, but promise to write more soon. hope everyone is well. arusha is the place to be.

2 Responses on "I am a fithy, sweaty beast, and it never gets better."

  1. Connie says:


    I'm so sorry to hear about the rats...it would be a deal-breaker for me too.

    I agree with the other comments that you are doing amazing work! I think that it is very interesting that women who can ask for micro-loans cannot ask their husbands to use condoms. Its a fascinating glimpse into those women's public versus private selves.

    In regards to micro-loans, though, you might have the women's group (or another local aid organization) get these women hooked into www.kiva.org. One of the founders, Jessica, worked at Amazon last summer as an intern. She's an amazing woman, a Christian, and has worked in Tanzania before.


    mao says:

    Our Student Nurses' Assoc. and Black Student Nurses' Assoc. are always looking for service opportunities - I hope that you can come talk with them and that maybe they'll be open to the needs you are seeing.

    Miss you & love you.