Tuesday April 4th:
Things are ALWAYS more hopeful in the morning. We woke up the sound of cheerful kids running around and birds chirping outside. The scary rainstorm night of being stuck inside a new place with no power seemed like less of a big deal in the morning and I wondered why I was so restless the night before, having a hard time falling asleep. We slept 10.5 hours in the end (much needed!) and I often take some time to figure out where I am in the mornings when I’m away from home. The mosquito net, Swahili conversation in kids’ voices, and Sher snoozing beside me were all little clues to remind me where I was and why. I tried to remember the name of the village (Uyole, pronounced Oo-yo-lei) and some kids’ names but those were a little harder. I already felt tired again when I thought of how busy our day would be but then I really have no complaints… I’m here at this amazing place with the coolest husband and working with a company that changes the lives of children in tough situations. So far, all the kids seem really positive and they seem English (among other things) very quickly. It is definitely worth waking up with a stiff neck and uncertainty in my role, if I can find a way to help even a little bit.
The power is still out and no one seems concerned. It’s kind of funny.
So after breakfast, we went to the main part of the village to look for gloves, floss, and toothbrushes for the kids’ dental talk. No luck with the floss but we bought each of them toothbrushes and one was a fancier superhero brush to be given as a prize. The four of us (Cristina, Daniel, Sher and I) stopped for a ginger coffee break on the way back. Cristina took us to a dodgy-looking roadside stand but his coffee mixed with hot ginger infusion was delicious and it was nice to sit in the shade. It’s interesting how in these really hot countries, they always drink hot liquids as a break. I remember on our hottest day in the desert on my Morocco trip, we were served steaming hot mint tea. But it was actually nice! Strange how that works.
In the afternoon, Sher went ahead with his first talk and checkup to the youngest group of kids…. such cuties!! He mentioned that Africans genetically seem to have stronger teeth and less dental issues… only one little girl had cavities that would need dental attention. Since he didn’t bring his equipment to actually treat them (we definitely will next time), he made a list of the few kids in the entire school to take to a dentist near the end of our time there.
One regret I already have is that we didn’t prepare enough for this part of our trip. I didn’t know what our role at the school was… I thought they would give us specific jobs like “teach English alphabet to the youngest kids from 9am-10am” etc. Not at all like that! Haha! I found out later that Sher did get an email from the program coordinator that we would do talks about our expertise but he only mentioned it to me after we got on the plane since he knew I was busy with the wedding up until that point. But it would’ve been nice to prepare handouts on packing backpacks, common stretches, tips for injuries, etc for the people we were talking to. And the big regret I have is not bringing more for the kids. We were lucky to be there during their spring break and to live among them so we spent a lot of time with all the kids. We quickly realized how many things we take for granted in Canada would mean a LOT to them… and wished we had brought some of those things. Like English DVD movies… almost impossible to find in Uyole and Mbeya! Also floss (very hard to find and pricey once we found it), quality kid’s clothes and sandals, educational tools, non-latex gloves, electronics, etc. I made a long list now for when we return… which I hope we do soon.