Day 7: Discover Corps Tanzania Experience Continues
Morning: The Tuleeni Orphans Home
After yesterday’s extraordinary outing with the Maasai, my Discover Corps group needs a laid-back morning. Following breakfast, however, we walk to the Tuleeni Orphans Home, just a short distance away. The Word Tuleeni is Swahili word which Means ‘care for us’.
First, we stop at the local convienence store (which we discover doubles as the local bar in the evening) and pick up food supplies to donate to the orphanage. We enter the orphanage gates, and the children swarm over us. Peter, a high school senior in our group, brings his soccer ball, and the kids join him in playing football. I look over and notice the pathetic remains of a ball lying in the corner. We need to bring these kids a new ball when we return.
We meet Mama Faraji, a woman whose face radiates love. Honestly, her face reflects light like the blessed Madonna in a Renaissance painting. How she manages to care for 100 children, the little ones within her home, and not seem stressed baffles me. She has a special gift.
Mama Faraji became an orphan in her teens and ended up raising the younger members of her family. The job suited her and thankfully she has continued in her calling.
I sit down by a darling little girl who tells me her name is Happy. She shows me her room. She shares a bottom bunk bed with two other girls. The room is small but clean. We decide to take selfies with one of her roommates. Happy doesn’t like to play ball, so we begin a clapping game and then look at books. Happy makes me happy.
The Discover Corps participants pair up with other children. We learn that one of the oldest kids wants to become a journalist. I encourage him to start blogging on the Tuleeni website. http://www.tuleenihome.org/
Over in the outdoor kitchen, some of the older children help prepare the next meal. While these kids don’t have parents, they are connected as a family. They don’t own much in the way of worldly goods, but they are blanketed in a cocoon of care. Mama Faraji and the Tuleeni compound have a loving aura. I like the place.
Afternoon: Batiking like the Karate Kid
After we return and finish eating lunch prepared by the fabulous Mama D, we move tables around in the lobby for a special treat. A group of batik artists are coming to show their works and teach us the technique. We will learn about batik painting by creating a design of our own.
Now, drawing is not my forte. I feel a bit stressed.
Fortunately, the group of artists promises to assist us, and we all sit at the table and attempt to draw. An acacia tree is within my ability, a round sun I manage, but I want to add a lone giraffe in my picture. Thankfully, one of the artists helps me shape a giraffe head.
I then transfer the drawing to a piece of cloth and trace it onto both sides. After that, I head over to get help with the background color. I decide I want my sky to be a sunrise, so one of the artists covers the sun with wax and then washes on a thin layer of paint that looks like a watercolor sky. The artist helps everyone, and our projects begin to take shape.
Next, I advance to the drying station, a small outdoor grill. The cloth dries from the heat. I place in on the warm sidewalk where it continues to dry until I am ready for the next step.
When one of the helpers becomes free, he applies wax around the areas I want to be in silhouette.
I then apply thick black paint. The wax keeps the color from running into adjoining areas. The cloth is dried again. I then go to a grassy area and crumple the fabric and shake it to remove the wax. Wax on, wax off, just like the Karate Kid.
Lastly, I ran a hot iron over the fabric to remove the remains of the wax and paint in a few touch-ups.
I was amazed. My masterpiece (and the others) are stunning. Of course, I could never created this without help, but the process was certainly fun. A relaxing, artful afternoon with a souvenir to frame. I’m loving the Discover Corps itinerary.
Disclosure: My trip to Tanzania was self-funded.