Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Visit to St. Margaret's School in Arusha area

Today I visited St. Margaret's School in the Arusha area.  It is a school that has roots embedded in Minnesota.  The Friends of Africa, a local group, have helped Mama Tesha get her school off the ground. Many of the students at the school are being sponsored by donors around the world, and other students pay to attend.  The quality of education is very good.  The school was number 7 in Tanzania last year of over 14,000 elementary schools competing in the testing.  The school recently received a large donation of food from Feed My Starving Children.  It was good to see a large pot of porridge being prepared for lunch for the children.  The school has also received books from Books for Africa to start organizing an library.  The school is well on it's way to become a first class Tanzanian school!

St. Margaret's currently receives a rationed amount of water from a nearby army camp, (3 hours a day) but are going to construct a rainwater catchment tank that will allow them to have consistent access to water.  The construction of the tank will begin soon.  They are very grateful to Diamond Path Elementary for their partnership with them this year that will help build the tank. The students loved the penpal letters, and promised to write letters back very soon.  They were fascinated with the photos of snow! They hope that someday, students from Diamond Path will be able to visit the school.  They will be most welcome!

I went with my new friend and driver, Alphan, to see if I could get my Kenyan phone working in Tanzania.  We waited at one AirTel shop for about a half an hour, only to be told that I needed my passport to complete the transaction.  Of course today was THE day that I left the passport in the hotel safe.  The ONLY day!!  SO..... we went back to the hotel, and headed out again to another AirTel shop.  After about another 45 minutes, the transaction was completed.  The good news? It works.  The bad news?  It wiped out all of my contact phone numbers.  I am now sitting at the computer trying to recreate phone numbers that I need for the rest of our visits.

Following the telephone debacle, we ventured into Arusha Town to the local market area.  Everything that you ever needed at your home for cooking, clothing, or food could be found in the booths.  The colors and smells were overwhelming, but the people were very gracious and again, welcomed us to Tanzania.  We love the colorful dresses and head scarves that are worn by the women.  It fascinates me to see all the different items that can be carried on their heads.  They carry food, clothing, wood, bananas, pineapples and everything else from soup to nuts.  The women also carry their babies and small children in Kanga cloth on their backs.  I don't think I would last a day!

We have enjoyed our very short time in Arusha, and will be heading to Dar es Salaam tomorrow by airplane.  After a brief overnight in Dar, we will head to a small village near Iringa.  The bus ride will be 8-10 hours.  We are a bit apprehensive about the trip!  It will definitely be an experience. Once in Iringa we will stay overnight at the Wihanzi Hotel.  It will cost us a whopping $15 for the night.

The weather in Kenya and Tanzania has been warm with blue skies- NO WATER!  Both countries definitely need rain.  They are hoping that in late March or early April the skies will open and they will be able to water their crops and fill their tanks.


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