Tuesday, September 30, 2008

OMEGA-Team Bailey--The Heart of the Matter

Projects are an important part of the OMEGA team experience, but the heart of OMEGA is the relationships built along the way.
On Day 1 for Team Bailey, the relationships took root as team members interacted:

With the school children....

With each other.........

and with the community

And this is just Day 1.
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OMEGA-Team Bailey Day 1 - Work

The team woke early and was eager to head up Mt. Meru to the community of Sambasha. OMEGA teams have developed a strong relationship over the past several years assisting the community in the building of both their church and education facilities for their children.

The team had no hesitation of getting work started immediately and began the day by loading and hauling countless wheel-barrows full of pumice rock to lay as base over which the new concrete floor will be poured.

Help came from all ages as the workers enjoyed teaching some of the team members to count in Kiswahili from 1-5: moja, mbili, tatu, nne, tano.
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OMEGA--Team Bailey Arrival

Over the next few days, we are going to let you have an idea of what takes place when an OMEGA team comes to Tanzania to work on a project. This particular team was, for the most part from our home church in Lubbock, but also included a couple of Austinites and a Houstonian, who have been delightful additions to the team.
The team arrived at Kilimanjaro Int'l Airport after traveling about 30 hours of travel. They were excited as they exited the baggage claim, with only the delay of one piece of luggage. Each one vividly noticed the different feel and smell to the air as they de-planed. It is something noticed immediately by all our visitors.
After a 45 minute drive into Arusha, we arrived at the hostel which will provide meals and lodging for our group for the next 8 days. Everything was unpacked and the most immediate matter to address was contacting family members. Everyone got a turn at the computer or telephone before heading off to bed.

No one hung around for a group photo, except Ed and Michael.

Hope you will check back each day and get an up date on that goes on with an OMEGA group.
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Friday, September 26, 2008

"A Day Like No Other..."

Today was Form 4 graduation at Aldersgate School. Form 4 is the equivalent of 12th grade. One special young man with whom we have become friends is Soma (on my left in the photo). Soma and is friend, Moses are from the Maasai tribe. Like all Maasai, they are very proud of their heritage. They wore the required dress shirts and slacks today for the ceremony, but quickly changed into traditional Massai dress at the conclusion. There are 5 young Maasai men in this class and they gathered with their families under a tree on the school grounds after the ceremony. Most everyone was dressed in the beautiful Maasai "shukas" and decked out in their beaded accessories. Because Soma's family lives so far away, he asked us to represent his family for this special occasion. Everyone in the photo, (but the Texans) are Maasai. Little Nosim is a primary school student, who finds countless excuses to leave the dormitory and come for visits.

At the end of the day, one young man stated, "This is a day like no other....it is just for us.....there will be another day like today". What a grand thought for us all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Spanning a Century

From 1908

To 2008

A picture in contrast

Technology during a power outage.
Ain't modern technology grand???
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The Fundi's Friend.......Frank

Frank is the guy in charge of maintenance at Aldersgate school. He and Ed have been fast friends since Ed's arrival in January of 2007. They are both very quiet and have have a sense for how to fix things and make them work, so they get along very well. Frank is an electrician by trade and helped lay the electrical line the 120 miles between Arusha and Babati. Frank has officially crossed the line of the "fundi factor", and working with Ed, has learned to weld, repair plumbing, build fence, spread concrete, install windows, and pull water well pumps, to list a few. Looking at this photo of the two of them, it appears he has taken on come other of Ed's characteristics.

One of their recent projects was the fabrication of 125 sets of chairs and desks and 25 -10 ft long benches. By setting up "jigs", they starting turning out quality metal chairs and desks and named their process "Precision Manufacturing Company". The job was set up in the cooking area at the school and when the secondary school boys had a break, they lined up to see the process. Unfortunately, I did not get photos.
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The "FUNDI" Factor

The word "fundi" is translated as "a skilled person" and the "fundi factor" affects any job that gets done in Tanzania. There is no "cross-'fundi'-ing". Only a "fundi" of a particular type of job does or oversees the job. And the fundi is only a fundi for one particular skill. For instance "fundi seremala" is a carpenter, "fundi wa umeme" is an electrician, "fundi wa bomba" is the guy who works on water pumps, and "fundi wa gari" is the auto mechanic. I don't remember what the word is for "welder".

Anyway, imagine everyone's surprise when Ed arrives and he is the "fundi of everything": construction, carpentry, welding, auto mechanics, electricity, plumbing, painting, farming, and just a good old "honey-do" kind of guy. Our Tanzanian friends are always amazed at his skills and have labeled him "fundi wa vitu vingi" (the fundi of many things).

The beauty of Ed sharing his talents as he works alongside the Tanzanzians, is that they have enjoyed learning they are capable of doing more than just one job. There have been several guys who want to work with him to pick up on other skills.

In some of the posts to come, I will tell you a little more about Ed's "fundi" jobs.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

King of the Road

The stretch of road between Arusha and Babati is paved for 60 miles and graveled the remaining 60 miles. This is a major thoroughfare between 2 major cities in Tanzania: Arusha and Dodoma, the capital. It is highly traveled by what Texans would call "18-wheelers" and large buses. With no other traffic in site, a driver can drive wherever the road is the smoothest.

However, when a bus comes into site, all drivers beware.!! They are over-accelerated, over-crowded, and not overly-concerned with the "other guy". Often the axle is bent, so the bus appears to be traveling down the road side-ways.

This was taken once the dust started to clear...for several seconds, it is "zero visibility".
Gives new to meaning to the old saying, "EAT MY DUST!!!"
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I just recently realized I missed being able to just take off and drive by myself, where I want to go, take as long as I would like, and just spend time "viztin". I move around Babati with a great deal of independence, but not out to villages, to and from Arusha and places between. The primary reason is because of the road conditions, even the best of vehicles are known to break down in the most inconvenient of places.

So you can imagine the excitement when I was given the opportunity to drive the 120 miles from Arusha to Babati on my own. Ed was going to be about an hour behind me in another car. We both had our cell phones with good reception the entire route. We decided I would visit one of the OMEGA projects about 60 miles out and 7 miles off the pavement. By the time I finished business there, Ed would be close and we would travel the remaining 60 miles of dirt road together.

I had a wonderful time talking with the folks at Mswakini Juu and headed out as planned. However, when I got to the pavement, discovered that Ed was delayed and was further behind me that we thought. Loving the feeling of "independence", I struck out on my own and continued on toward Babati.

Upon reaching Magugu (about 20 miles from Babati), I stopped to call Ed and check in. The car died and wouldn't start. Waited a while and it still wouldn't start. I gave 2 Tanzanian boys the equivalent of $2 to give me a push and I would try the old trick of starting in 2nd gear and popping the clutch. He took my 2,000 (t-shillings), gave me a quick push, and told me in Kiswahili there was a problem with the car and ran off. Feeling the rush of independence slipping away, I called Ed and found he was a mere 45 minutes away. Getting out of the car, I heard a "sssssssss" sound and found that the tire which had been repaired twice in the last two days was going flat. My next call to Ed was, "Just so you know, the tire will be flat by the time you get here." I waited on the main street of Magugu.

We spent the next 2 hours getting re-started and having the tire repaired "again".
I am truly a "kisasa" (modern) woman and I love my independence in Tanzania, as long as Ed is about 45 minutes behind me.
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Yes.....We Have No Bananas

We have about 30 banana trees on the 1 acre compound on which we live. The development of a bunch of bananas is an interesting and lengthy process. One variety we have produces a large plump banana, while another is a very small, almost a "cocktail" size banana.

It's either "feast" or "famine" with these tasty treats. Although, they produce year round, we either have bunches ready at the same time or nothing for weeks. I have made: banana pudding, banana cake, banana bread, and banana jam. We have had them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, mixed with meat in a stew, mixed with peanut butter, coated with chocolate, roasted, fried, grilled, and stewed. And this is just what we keep for ourselves. To keep from getting tired of this bountiful harvest, we share them with our security guards and bestow bunches as gifts.

So this is how the bananas grow........
First, this funny looking thing appears on the tree on a long fibrous stem that can be as long as 4 feet.

Next little curls will appear and before long there are tiny bananas

The actual fruit does not take long to develop. They just take several months before they are ready to harvest. Sometimes the bunch gets so heavy the tree sags and has to be propped up with a board to keep the tree from breaking.

This stalk is ready to cut. Tanzanians like green bananas in a meat stew, grilled, roasted, or boiled. To get a nice, ripened banana, it is necessary to stay in a dark place for about 2 weeks.

Do we get tired of bananas?................As long as there is banana pudding, banana cake, and banana bread......Ed will keep right on eating.

Glory Girls

Although, we have known one another for many, many years, the Glory Girls have officially been meeting since 1996. We no longer have our regular Friday "get togethers", but still the bond we share is beyond words.. I would estimate there is probably 45 years separating the oldest from the youngest. The things I have gained from my friendship with these ladies is immeasurable. We have prayed, cared, shared, cried, and laughed through just about anything life could bring along. What a blessing they have been to me the past 12 years.

I love this photo taken in January 2008 and I am sure we are laughing at something our sweet Linda has said. She is in the center with the innocent look on her face.
Earlier this year, Linda became a real "Glory Girl" and the rest of us are experiencing the loss of one of our own. I am missing her quick wit, openness, and her friendship. I can't imagine returning to the States and her not being there. In our communication, since we have been in Tanzania, Linda fretted over the idea we were living in a "mud hut". Once she was assured it was not a mud hut, she decided it was an "Out of Africa" type of house with sweeping verandas, and open rooms........wrong again. She always had such a vivid imagination and questions about what she imagined life to be like here. When I told her I was thinking about "blogging", she had several creative ideas to include, one of which was photos on the development of the bananas we have growing in our yard.

So, Linda, the next blog "Yes, We Have No Bananas......." is for you.
See ya in Glory........Girl!!!!!

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One Year Later.....

One year later and we have seen amazing progress in the completion of the dormitories at Aldersgate. The two completed buildings, as well as the one under construction are identical. Tanzanian construction methods are very different from American. Ed and Ben Shular have put many long hours in the supervision of bringing safe, clean, and inviting living quarters to the students of Aldersgate School

Dormitory #1 opened March 2008

Dormitory #2 will open any day

Dormitory #3 is on it's way