- for the Grateful Web

I hope your spring going into summer is wonderful.  Here it is nearly "winter" and getting very chilly in the Southern Highlands.  Not like Nebraska winter chilly, but with no central heating or insulation and lots of drafty cracks in the house, certainly CHILLY.  My guess is some nights it gets down into the 40s, and some days not warmer than 70.  No complaints though, I'm still able to garden!


About ten days ago I returned to my village from In-Service-Training in Dar Es Salaam, where I learned that I have received $2,000 USD in grant money to initiate projects!  The first projects will be at the school:  renovating two classrooms, adding clear panels to the ceilings of all classrooms for more light, painting a mural of a world map, and constructing a garden and tree nursery for the students to learn how to care for vegetables, fruit and lumber trees as potential cash crops.  In the village, the first project will be to improve the genetics of local chickens.  This will involve distributing medicine to vaccinate all the chickens for a common virus (which modern breeds are more susceptible to), helping villagers build bandas (coops), bringing in modern roosters, and setting up a breeding program (second generation offspring are the best).  The result will be chickens that are more productive in laying eggs and providing meat!   The villagers are very excited about this project.


Currently I am on my way to a conference in Morogoro, which will be attended by all 110 Peace Corps volunteers in Tanzania.  I'll return to Mafinga on Monday, regroup with all the Environment volunteers in my area, then go to the village of Itimbo for EcoCamp.  We're each bringing 3 students and will be teaching fun things about trees/plants, animals/birds, the water cycle, good soil practices, and introducing the concept of Ecology. I'll then return to my village for two weeks, and hopefully be able to get several projects rolling, then go on vacation to Zanzibar for the International Film and Cultural Festival!  I'll return again for two weeks, then go to an AIDS conference with a fellow villager, where we'll learn all the current statistics and be able to share what we've learned with other villagers.


With all this coming and going, it's going to be difficult to implement projects, but by August things should settle down, and I'll be in the village for longer periods of time.  I've absolutely fallen in Love with Tanzania!  It's people, the culture, and landscapes are all so beautiful.  Time is flying; I can't believe my service is already 1/4 over! 

Hamjambo? An update from Pamela

Tiananmen Square- for the Grateful Web

I just wanted to report on the first week of vacation, since so much has happened so far!  We began with an adventurous trek to Lake Malawi, 11hours, 3 buses and the last hour in the back of a truck, arriving finally at 10pm!  But it was all worth it, because the Lake was absolutely beautiful.  Pure grey sand, crystal clear water, and green mountains jutting up all around.  We rode in a dug out canoe across the bay to snorkel in a rocky area with colorful fish, and to visit a remote village where the people specialize in pottery making.  This was one of the most incredible village experiences I have had, because the people obviously hadn't had much exposure to white people or the outside world, especially the children, but were still very friendly and welcoming.


The "resort" where we stayed didn't have much to offer as far as food or activities, but the newly built red roofed cottages were very clean and comfortable.  The light, smells, and feel of the place reminded me so much of summer camp!  We spent three full relaxing days on the beach, swimming, reading, and eating incredibly yummy mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and several other unusual and unknown fruits!


We celebrated Christmas Eve with a South African couple who were camping there, and had their campsite all decorated with homemade foil garland and ornaments, and wreaths and candle holders made out of tree branches, fruits and pinecones.  They also made chocolate cake over the camp fire and had an entire array of hor'dourves.  "What would you like to drink?", they asked.  "We have tequila, rum, vodka, gin, beer, and red wine."  It was a great Christmas! 


On Christmas Day morning, we got a ride back to Mbeya in a super SUV with 4 Chinese guys, all engineers working for the roads department.  We had very interesting conversations, covering a broad range of topics from Tiananmen Square and democratic reform in China to of course basketball!  And what made it even more interesting were that these conversations were in three languages: Chinese, English and Swahili!  They took us out for Christmas dinner at a 70s decor hotel where we ate chicken curry.


Yesterday Carolyn and I hiked to the top of one of the nearest mountains around Mbeya, and this afternoon are boarding a bus to Lusaka, Zambia, where we will get another bus to the town of Livingstone.  The adventure continues...