On Saturday I decided to take on a project that a previous volunteer asked me to complete. There are ID books for all of the LIA children but some don’t have photos. My task was to figure out which ones didn't, make a list and then track down the kids. It was actually a bit more of an adventure then it seemed at first. Along with another volunteer we went around with the list, but sometimes we were told all the kids were in school, when it was Saturday and they actually weren't. The book was also not always accurate with which house the kids lived in.
Luckily, one of the kids here Joy, turned out to be the kind of secretary people would pay good money for! She took over the management of the list, walked me over to where I needed to be, tracked down the kids and marked them off as I took the pictures. When we started it was just two people but the "photo taking party" quickly turned into a healthy group of little kids, older kids, semi-stray dogs and puppies! Some people wanted to get their picture taken for the heck of it and I obviously obliged. In a place where people don’t really have cameras or the resources to get their photo done, showing someone a pic of themselves always brings out a smile.
Later on in the day we visited a boy's house a little ways away to take more ID book photos. I then discovered that there they had more dogs, along with chickens, ducks and a healthy family of guinea pigs. My fellow volunteer Dr. Rachel was patiently trying to explain to the boys that they had to separate the male and female guinea pigs or the baby-making was not going to end! Two of the dogs on the property were in very bad shape, terribly thin with bones sticking out. I asked one of the boys to help me examine them and guessed that they probably had tape worms.
Since there is so much need, very little resources are allocated to taking care of the animals. I completely understand that, but at the same time I have such a soft spot for them. So, I went into town right after leaving the boy's house, showed the man at the agriculture/animal store the pics of the dogs as Joy (my favorite secretary) translated. I was able to pick up 6 rounds of de-worming pills for roughly $1.89.
That morning I was dreaming of eating a lot of mangoes. While in the shopping area of our little town (Boma) I had decided to pick some up. I knew what they should cost, but none the less was charged double. I picked up 11 large ripe mangoes for approximately $1.26. Back home you probably couldn't buy half a mango for that price. So, was I overcharged? Yes. But I have no regrets.
The next day we organized a birthday party for all those kids who celebrated in January. This involved games, balloons, gifts, cookies and the pineapple flavored Tanzanian equivalent of fruit punch. The kids arrived 30 minutes early (this is Africa after all and time isn’t exact) and then chaos ensued. The other volunteers and I tried our best to corral everyone, but when you have kids aged 2- 15 all in one room, along with one mentally handicapped kid who probably had no idea what was going on, there is bound to be some chaos! We took turns leading activities while the others "rested". They all had candy, cookies and probably way to much sugary juice but a good time was had by all!
Today was spent making project lists and organizing all of the donations into usable groupings. There are only a few more days left before my friend Jamie and I leave to go on a safari and I want to do what I can before I go.