Travel articles you can use.
Top

Cornfields and Cake in Tanzania

November 4, 2015 by  

Day Nine: Discover Corps Trip Continues

If you build it, they will come. If you plant it, they will harvest – about the same. Right?

Students Go Into the Cornfields

Students Go Into the Cornfields

The Longuo Primary School in Moshi, Tanzania was given use of a plot of land about two miles from the school. The children would help plant and harvest corn. The corn would be used in the staple dish called Ugali, a cornmeal mush mixture that is prepared and served daily to the students, sometimes with beans or vegetables added.

It was early September and the corn was dry on the stalk. That’s harvest time in Tanzania, not at all like our typical sweet corn on the cob that is picked when it’s juicy and moist.

Working in the Fields- with a smile.

Working in the Fields- with a smile.

The kids walked the two miles from school and entered the rows of corn. They were to break the corn off the stalks, stuff the cobs into bags and haul those heavy bags to a central area. There, the children dumped the ears into a huge pile. They then repeated the process, over and over. Mind you, this is difficult work and the youngsters quickly realized it was easier to find a buddy to help carry those heavy loads.

Working Together

Working Together

Carrying a heavy load.

Carrying a heavy load.

By afternoon’s end, a truck would transport the stash to the school. Later, the corn would be stripped off of the cob, dried in the sun, and ground into meal or flour.

Dumping the corn.

Dumping the corn.

The students appeared happy to see the now familiar faces of the Discover Corps group entering the cornfields. We watched and assisted for a short time, and I’ll admit, picking and hauling the corn takes some effort. I would not have enjoyed this labor of love near as much as these kids, but maybe for them it was like a snow day.

Working in the Cornfield.

Working in the Cornfield.

After a short while, we left to get back to work on our classroom renovation. Today was scheduled as a day for painting and scrubbing furniture. The men in my group would work on the ceiling project.

Vernonica and Margaret clean the rollers.

Vernonica and Margaret clean the rollers.

Progress was slow and stressful, needless to say, the building was not exactly level and our tools were not the best. Fortunately, a local construction worker appeared. The ceiling job would never have been finished without his staple gun speedy skills.

Ceiling work commences.

Ceiling work commences.

An hour and a half later, we all looked a sight. Paint was streaked on my pants and shirt. (I’d leave them in Tanzania, though I’m not sure anyone would want them.)

 

Just as we are winding down, the truck with all of the corn from the fields arrived. Now, the tired children (whom had walked back to school) needed to transfer the cobs into a storage room. We hung around taking photos. Amazingly, the kids were still smiling and seemingly having a good time. A hardy group, indeed. I wonder what grade-schoolers in the US would think? I’m pretty sure the parents would complain about child labor, but that’s not the case in Moshi.

Corn is dumped in the school yard.

Corn is dumped in the school yard.

Transferring the corn to the storeroom.

Transferring the corn to the storeroom.

After lunch and much needed showers, we ran errands in town and hit the internet cafe to catch up on news.

Internet Cafe Tanzania Style.

An Internet Cafe Tanzania Style.

Mama D fixed a wonderful dinner and afterward, we headed back for a short visit with the kids in Tuleeni Orphanage. I was honestly tired and wanted to skip, but was convinced to go. Glad I did because little Happy (my favorite little girl) was looking for me.

Mama D, our fantastic chef.

Mama D, our fantastic chef.

The kids were thrilled with their new soccer balls and Peter got them right into a game. Some looked at the new books we brought. But soon, it grew dark and we needed to walk back.

 

Surprise

 

A car was sent for one of our volunteers who was having trouble with her knees, and I (the next oldest) was also encouraged to take a ride home. Strange, the orphanage wasn’t that far, but the driver seemed to take a long circuitous route.

When I walked into our compound, everyone yelled, ” Surprise!” This was a surprise birthday party for me! While the date wasn’t my actual birthday, I had given this trip as a 65th birthday present to myself. Best gift ever and so much better than being depressed by life’s passage.

A Beautiful Birthday Cake for me!

A Beautiful Birthday Cake for me!

The party allowed us to indulge in our first American type dessert- cake and ice cream, a real treat. The two-tiered cake was homemade and a stunning beauty. Someone ignited a huge sparkler on the top that created quite a show. The Tanzanian staff all gathered to sing while I cut the cake- “Cutta, cutta cutta cake.”

Blowing out the candle

Blowing out the candle

The treat was absolutely delicious and only a little was leftover! I was wrapped in a piece of African fabric, a traditional gift for women.  How generous and genuine; I felt loved in the company of people who had been strangers just a few days ago.  I will always treasure the fabric and my extraordinary memories of a very special birthday in Africa. Heartfelt thanks to my Discover Corps group.

Wrapped in birthday fabric.

Wrapped in birthday fabric.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

Comments

3 Responses to “Cornfields and Cake in Tanzania”

  1. Beth Havey on November 9th, 2015 9:37 am

    Photos are awesome, but what you are giving is the greatest gift.

  2. jane canapini on November 9th, 2015 10:13 am

    What a great way to spend a birthday, one that many people would dread. I’ll have to plan something like that for mine when it comes up…and only hope that it turns out to be as rewarding as your experience.

  3. Debi Lander on November 9th, 2015 11:26 am

    Jane,

    Do plan something BIG! My 60th was dismal, so this one really made up for that. Great memories. Thanks for reading.

Feel free to leave a comment...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!





Bottom