3rd Blog Post: Students in Action!
Homestay Community: The students have now received a warm welcome in their homestay community of Qurus, located in a village in the Karatu district of Tanzania. It is located about 160 km from Arusha and 21 km from Karatu town. The community speaks Swahili, Iraqw (a regional language) and a little English. The main staple crops are maize (corn), sunflowers, and beans. There are about 2,000 people in the community altogether. The community members generally live in houses constructed with mud or concrete bricks and grass or metal sheet roofing. There is no wired electricity in the community but many homes have solar power.
Typical to Tanzania, most homes have outdoor outhouses for bathrooms and showers. Most homes do not have running water, but the community taps water through a communal water pipe and some families must transport this water to their homes.
Service Project: The members of this host community have chosen for the students to help construct a classroom in their local school. This is a huge project, and it may take more time to complete than the students have time for, but they are working hard to complete as much as they can!
It is so important and will have a tremendous impact. The fertility rate in Tanzania is 5 births per woman and the local school is very overcrowded, leading to sub-optimal learning. Some classes have more than 60 students!
[Student-written blog post begins below]
“We’ve made it to Qurus! We got here on July 4th. On that day, we met the school’s team including the council members and teachers and the head master, Godwin. Then we met our host families.
One at a time we were introduced to either our mama, bebe (grandmother), or baba (father):
Michelle and Ale with Baba Alfonu
PJ and Calvin with Bebe Marta
Calvin and Lauren with Mama Agatha
Nolan and Jack with Baba Charles
Alex and Emma with Mama Maria
Avy and Mary with Pastor John.
After we were all introduced, we parted ways and walked to our houses we’d be living in for the next three weeks. We spent the rest of the day with our new families and got our first taste of Tanzanian life.
The next day was our first working day starting at 8:30am and ending around 4:15pm. We started getting everything in place and digging the 3-foot foundation of the classroom.
Saturday was another working day. Before and after each working day, we get to spend more time with our host families. We bond through washing clothes by hand, cooking traditional dishes like ugali and rice, playing games, and cleaning the house and “yard.”
On Sunday, we had the day off. Many people took this opportunity to go to church with their families or do various chores around the house such as washing work clothes ruined with dirt. Later in the day, the group got back together to play soccer with the kids and volunteers from the worksite and even our chef, Chaz (we love Chaz).
So far, everyone’s enjoying their host family stays. We’ve already made memories we’ll never forget. Even though there’s a language barrier, and distinctly different cultures, we are all learning and understanding more about the people who live here.