Tag Archives: Moshi

How Batik Art is like the Karate Kid

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’.

 

The Ball is in a sad state.
The Ball is in a sad state.

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.

 

 

Mama Faraji
Mama Faraji

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.

Having fun taking selfies.
Having fun taking selfies.

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.

Happy and me
Happy and me

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.

Orphanage room
Orphanage room

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.

Drawing at the Discover Corps Compound.
Drawing at the Discover Corps Compound.

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.

Beginning to wax and paint the background.
Beginning to wax and paint the background.

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.

Progress on the background
Progress on the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Drying the cloth over hot coals.
Drying the cloth over hot coals.

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.

Painting with black.
Painting with black.

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.

My finished batik art.
My finished batik art.

Disclosure: My trip to Tanzania was self-funded.

Off to Africa with Discover Corps

Discovery Corps Experience Tanzania Part 1

Days 1-3

Oh, the stories waiting to be shared from this trip. So many, that I will split the blog into numerous posts so I won’t bypass any of the fascinating activities. I hope you will follow along.

Discover Corps Logo

The adventure began as a desire to visit Africa and a passion to do something meaningful to celebrate a momentous birthday. Discover Corps Tanzania provided the answer, and proved themselves far beyond my expectations.

Their website claimed their program could ” Recharge your spirit by discovering a country through its people. ” I liked the idea of immersing myself in a different culture while giving back, engaging in hands-on cultural workshops, and connecting with fascinating people. I can honestly report that my trip accomplished much more than that. I thank Discover Corps for awakening me to volunteer vacations and all they have to offer.

Day 1: Arrival

I arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport in the evening following a day and half flights and was joyously met and transported to the Discover Corps Home Base in Moshi. My new home in the village of Rau was a secure gated compound. The main area included a covered open-air lobby or common area perfect for meetings and dining. Eight bedrooms spoked off the lobby, four on either side plus the director’s home at the front. The kitchen sat across from my bedroom.

Discover Corps Compound
Discover Corps Compound

We were offered a light meal by lantern light (the power in Tanzania often goes out) and I then went directly to bed. I was expecting a cot or college dorm-like setting but my room contained a queen sized bed with mosquito netting, a private toilet, shower and sink and daily maid service. Sweet Tanzanian dreams played in my sleep except for the interruption of loud crowing from a nearby rooster.

My bedroom in Tanzania
My bedroom in Tanzania

Day 2: Orientation and meeting our local family

Next morning, Mama Simba, a dynamo of a program director, again welcomed us with more warm hugs. We were given an orientation to our volunteer work and told  how to dress (women must wear skirts while teaching), and a reminded to conserve water by toilet usage message.

Mama Simba reminds us to conserve water.
Mama Simba reminds us to conserve water.

Our group of twelve US citizens included a family with two teenage children, two mother/daughter combos, a husband and wife team and two single women, me being one of those. We introduced ourselves and told our personal stories.

A basic Swahili lesson followed. I remembered “jambo” but the other greetings would take a while to sink in. I’m just not good at foreign language.

Immediately, the group bonded over our passion to help the school and our keen desire to experience real Africa.

Later that afternoon came out first opportunity. Neighbors from the village arrived for a meal. Before eating Mama Simba asked everyone to speak briefly and we learned how different families made their living. We each greeted “our local family” with the best Swahili we could muster. I was assigned to Justin, a tour guide, his sister and his elegant but aging mother. We dined together with Lyngrid, the other solo traveler, and then carefully made our way down the rutty dirt path to their house.

Dining with my local family
Dining with my local family

The family maintained a home compound with some 20 members living in connecting buildings, called houses in Africa, but would be considered shacks in the US. Justin’s Mama had a reserved chair and she was proud to have us visit her home. We were the first white people ever to step inside.

The Family House
The Family House

Lyngrid and Justin-1 Me and the kids-1
While Mama and Sister spoke Swahili, Justin acted as interpreter. His English is fluent, and in fact , he impressed us with the ability to also converse in French and some Spanish. These skills help him get work as a tour guide.

Extended Family
Extended Family
Grandchildren
Grandchildren

I asked Sister to show me the kitchen and she laughed, then took me outside to a fire pit. They have no indoor cooking facilities and no running water. One water source for the extended family and an area for doing laundry. The family also keeps one goat to eat trash.

Family member doing the laundry.
Family member doing the laundry.

We met other members of the multi-generational group and I enjoyed taking their pictures. My family treated me so warmly and I was honored to be in their presence.

They walked Lyngrid and I back and the Discover Corps home and we joined the participants chatting about our day. Everyone was ready for an early bedtime.

 

Day 3: School and a Coffee Plantation and Dancers

Happy School Children
Happy School Children

Day three began early. We arrived to at Longuo Primary School, about 10-15 minutes away, by 7:30; the official starting time. The entire student body assembled outside to welcome us. We listened as the sang the national anthem.

We each introduce ourselves to the gathering of students and teachers. I told the children I lived near Mickey Mouse in Florida and that seemed to garner some chuckles and smiles. The students marched off in song and we followed into the office.

Exterior of the School - mural painted by previous volunteers.
Exterior of the School – mural painted by previous volunteers.

We were welcomed by the staff and I met the teacher that Michelle,  her daughter and I would be working alongside. Our students are in level 4, similar to grade 4.

We toured the school property which cries for help and support. The cafeteria consists of a single woman who cooks for all 425 children over an open fire. She boils up corn meal and beans. Sometimes she had a little rice and just a smattering of meat to add to the pots.

Only one water source supplies the school, a pipe coming from the garden area. The children bring empty containers from home, fill them and water the plants or carry it into the classrooms. Some tiny tots haul the heavy water containers home if needed. The toilets facilities broke my heart and did a number on my sense of smell. Sorrowful.

 

You want to fix everything but need to understand that you can’t. One classroom was chosen for the Discovery Corps volunteers to refurbish. We were to clean and paint it, but decided the ceiling most come down and be replaced, as well. We later determined the cost and chipped in the extra money needed.

The Classroom before we start our renovation.
The Classroom before we start our renovation.

Jeff tears down the ceiling-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Afternoon:

We returned to our compound for lunch. Afterward, we boarded our bus and traveled a short way up the mountain to a small coffee farm. The people from the area around Mt. Kilimanjaro claim the name Chagga.

Chagga Dancers
Chagga Dancers

As we approached the farm, we could hear drum sounds and a group of colorful Chagga dancers popped out to greet us. Tanzanians know the word ‘welcome’ and use it very often.

A beautiful dancer
A beautiful dancer

We watched the costumed  performers, mostly older women jumping and chanting with wild abandonment. When they stopped for a much needed rest, we toured the adjoining coffee and banana fields. The two plants work symbiotically; the banana trees provide shade and moisture for the coffee bushes.

Coffee production is a long, slow process. While farmers get many banana crops per year, coffee ripens just once , if lucky, twice a year. The beans turn red as they become ready to harvest. They are handpicked, then washed, and set out to dry.

Ripening coffee beans
Ripening coffee beans

The dried beans are mashed in a large wooden mortar and pestle. I tried my hand at this and you need to pound with some force. Afterward, the smashed beans are shaken through a sieve and only the inner bean remain.

Pounding coffee beans
Pounding coffee beans

Next, the beans are roasted and stirred over an open fire. This is hot work because the beans will burn if not stirred. After cooling, water is boiled and the coffee brews. It tasted good and robust, but not as strong as it looked.

Dancers Perform
Dancers Perform

Before we left the Chagga dancers performed for us again. I loved their happy faces, big smiles and joie de vivre.

Chagga instrument
Chagga instrument

 

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Disclosure:  My trip to Tanzania was self-funded.