Photo’s coming soon, watch this space!
What follows is a summary of some of the fantastic things we have got up to in the last few weeks, mostly taken from James with a bit of Tom and a sprinkling of Sophie:
The classroom and office that barely more than a month ago were nothing but a square of drying concrete foundations was completely finished when we said our final, tearful, farewell on Monday. Among the many ways in which we sweated for the cause were the construction of the A-frames for the roof, painting them with foul termite-proof doo doo paint (tee hee) and first cementing and then liming the walls. The latter job proved to be quite a skill, with a flick of the wrist that took some mastering. Still, the local builders (fundis) were fairly impressed with our speed, with one taking a particular shine to Hannah. Score.
As well as the classroom itself, we also found other ways to help out around the school. Our other big project was constructing a fishpond to generate income for the school. This mainly involved cementing the base and walls (the results of which are seen not only in the watertight nature of the pond but the sculpted nature of our forearms). Once it was finished, and prior to the water being filled with s%$t (literally, in this case) we took advantage and had a paddle, cue impromptu games of volleyball and plenty of splashing and screaming.
Another experience of note was our being invited to a church one Sunday. It was obvious that the community spirit generated by these Sunday services was fairly integral to the lives of the people there (or at least more so than the church house band, consisting of two barely-tuned guitars and a keyboard drum machine stuck constantly on sound 17, speed 6). Pleasingly, there was also a fire and brimstone turn by the preacher, exhorting passionately from his pulpit. After the service we had the opportunity (rather unexpected) to bid for blessed goods. Freddie (in his second best cashmere jumper) did the group proud with a successful bid for a box of blessed mangos. They tasted far superior to the normal kind.
One of the most amusing evenings of the project phase was Obama Day, our own celebration of the inauguration. In classic American style, we decided upon chicken and chips. The chickens were brought from Babati market, slain with varying degrees of squeamishness by (take the stage) Sarah, Sophs, Freds and Vic and then deep fried. We wasted very little, with Vic munching on a foot or two and Sarah proving quite partial to stomach.
Every day (give or take a few) we got Swahili lessons from the Reverend Jason (the Rev, his street name, is how he’s known amongst his cohorts in the Babati mafia). We have all become kidogo safi, tafadhali ndizi (please dont google translate that!). It works the other way too, as we held regular conversation classes with the school kids. They were fascinated by us, the first question always being whether or not we were married. The highlight of these classes was Freds manfully attempting to teach the entire year group heads, shoulders, knees and toes with surprising success. In addition, we got to visit the kindergarten in pairs daily to play with the littlest ones. This, whilst exhausting, was incredibly fun and Dixon deserves special mention for his frequent and popular conga lines.
On our final day on Monday we had a massive ceremony, cutting the ribbon to our classroom and, hilariously, being asked to entertain local dignitaries with our tribal dancing. Ouch. We then moved off to safari, which was absolutely fantastic. We got on incredibly intimate terms with an elephant, a family of giraffes and a warthog, among others. Anyone reading this check out the balls of the vervet monkey. Fantastic. After our first day we retired to a gorgeous lodge on top of the rift valley escarpment for Sarah’s fake birthday (we all get fake birthday celebrations). Her birthday poem, composed by Tom, runs like this. She wanted it published, predictably enough.
On your birthday is the time
To submit a brief and humble rhyme
And sing in praise of Sarah C
She doesn’t disappoint, not she
You lead the group through thick and thin,
You wipe sick dribble from my chin,
And when the times run thin then thick,
Still you are involved with sick
A slur and a stagger, we saw the signs,
When lily puked on your legs eight times-
But enough of the vomit-focused rant
On to thoughts more elegant
Such as when you helped to send
Love and joy to your secret friend!
No joke, you were the very best
The pride was rising in my chest,
As I saw my banner fly,
Although the locals wondered why
I felt such love for a simple lamp
(Perhaps they thought I was a tramp
And from dusk onwards, all through the night,
Had no other source of light
But enough of me, now let us sing,
Of other fun you helped to bring-
Chaz’s credits rapid rise,
Martins cry of pleased surprise,
The tennis bats were quite a catch,
To you, Madame, game set and match,
And it would be a dreadful loss,
To fail to mention Chaz’s cross:
A labour of love, if ever I’ve seen
Painted in blue and black and green
As well as these, you’ve done much more,
To make the hearts of Quester’s soar
Notably, you’re honouring Sophie’s choice,
And dusting off your golden voice,
To sing Hero and heal her hand,
(You should charge at least 100 Rand
For were all privileged to have sat,
Through a performance such as that
And there’s one more thing that I should say
About a man big in more than one way
I’m not talking about big Jules P.
I refer instead to the big JC,
Who has entered into your life
By way of a bible verse or five
As you read this, or so I wish,
You’ll be halfway to getting pissed,
But before you drink the night away,
Close your eyes and let us pray:
Dear God, asante, asante sana,
For Sarah, she’s the top banana!
On that note, Im off for a kili biridi and our farewell Tanzania meal!