Day 6- March 13
Last night was miserable. Just miserable. I felt a little weird when I went to bed, and I woke up at 1:30 feeling horribly sick. I think a lot of it was nausea, but my stomach was really hurting. I mean aching. For me, a stomach ache usually means nausea or queasiness. Not a feeling like I am being stabbed. And I know this is gross, but it's part of the experience- I was having these horrific burps. I mean, the nastiest thing I have ever had going on with my mouth. I was pretty sure I was going to throw up. Back home, when I think I'm going to be sick (in the middle of the night), I grab my phone and purse and head to the bathroom. Maybe a bucket with a grocery bag in it, if things are serious. I turn on the light in the bathroom and camp out in there. Let me describe the process of preparing for digestive armageddon in Tanzania: clip mini flashlight to shirt strap because of sporadic blackouts. Grab phone, hard candy and meds. Put on shoes, because of scary bathroom. Wrestle with mosquito net. Find gallon plastic bag in suitcase, because there are no garbage cans here. Get to bathroom, drag rug from bathroom door area over by toilet so there is a semi-safe looking place to put phone, bag, and medicine. Thankfully, I had a Sprite left over from the day before (with the bottle cap just resting on top since none of the bottles have screw-on caps.) Those vile, disgusting burps just kept happening. I texted my mom and she started spreading the word that I really, really needed some prayer. In this case, the time difference was a good thing, because everyone was still awake back home- it was only around 5:30, I guess. I heard from Jess and Pat, and Denise, too. And a quick message from Melissa. From 2 to 4, I sobbed, cried, prayed, rebuked the devil (not even kidding) and sang worship songs. I set my iPad up to play through all the Christian artists, and just sat on the bed and rocked back and forth and cried. I couldn't even lie down. By 4 in the morning, I was able to recline some (I'm so thankful that my room has two beds, because that means three pillows. Not four or two, but three. And that works way better than one.) But even though I could recline a little, my stomach still really hurt. So I was a zombie this morning, and very wary of eating. I took some saltines and a cereal bar to breakfast, and just sat and nibbled on my own stuff (someone was amazed that I had saltines, until I 'fessed up to bringing them myself)
We headed out to 813, which was a very big center. It's also the one that had the CSP. The mamas and babies were so cute. It was funny that all of the babies were wrapped up so heavily. They had long sleeves and pants, jackets, blankets, and all these other layers, plus the cloth that they were wrapped up in and strapped to their moms' backs. Oh, and hats! They all wore knitted hats. I got to talk to a pretty young lady in a really gorgeous dress. I thought she looked like the rainbow fish! Her name was Angel, and her baby's name was Karen. I was very happy to tell her that that's my mom's name. Karen had little hair puffs and was smiley and cute. She was a little over a year old. There were 15-20 moms and babies there, and I counted 6 kids named Happiness (or Happy.)
I knew it was baby day because these were stacked on the table at breakfast!
Angel and Karen
The moms gave us blue and white scarves they had made. They feel pretty amazing- they're really well made, double layered and everything. It's just an added bonus that they're in UK blue and white! We toured the CSP aspects of the project, which was neat. I always thought that a CSP program was separate from a child development center, but it's just like a bonus program that the center offers. Most of the work with the moms is actually done in their homes! Anyway, I hear that this center had the best bathrooms of any of the centers we visited. They were still the kind of toilets that are installed in the ground, but they had cement floors, and toilet paper was provided. I wasn't super happy about having to give in and try one, but I guess it's impressive that I've lasted this long without having to go at a center or in a bush by the side of the road, like almost everyone else on the trip! The CSP participants also had a tree nursery, and they grow many kinds of fruits, like bananas, papaya, mangos, and even grapes! I'd never seen a grape vine before, and I can't say I expected to see one in Africa. There was also a eucalyptus tree and some herb thing that smelled familiar, but we never could place it.
When we went for our home visit, my group went to a sort of compound. They had a really nice place with a few rooms, and real (but old) couches. We visited a grandma, a mom, and the baby, who was the star of the show. Grandma said that Grandpa doesn't live with them right now because he is away doing "small business." Grandma (Rebekah) sells chicks in the market sometimes. The mom was 19. Her boyfriend is also in another city working, but they plan to get married. Rebekah said that she and her husband (I think they were married) had slowly built their home from the ground up, and it had taken them over a decade to get as far as they had. They said the baby was 6 months old, but she was sooo chubby. So many of the kids here are skinny- you can definitely tell that they are taking good care of her, and being part of the CSP is paying off! They had her in a beautiful white christening dress that looked like a tiny wedding gown....and fur pants. I don't know if they're trying to make the babies as warm as possible so they grow up used to the heat, or what. But it was hot today, and looking at that baby in her fur pants and knit cap made me feel a little woozy. We had a good visit- the family shared a lot with us, and they were really sweet.We wrapped up a little early, so Lee and Robert decided they were going to climb one of the giant rock piles behind the family's home. I can't even explain these things- they have to be some kind of natural wonder. Pando said they have no idea where the rocks came from, but they are GIGANTIC. Pictures don't do them justice. And the way they're piled up is really odd, like God was playing with them and then left them there. Keith went with them, and tore his jeans. Oops. They made it to the top really quickly. It was pretty amazing!
These kids were playing farmer by "planting" a broken tree branch they found! It was ADORABLE.
While touring the center, we saw the chicken house (a building as big as some of the classrooms we've seen, with tons of roosters, hens, and chicks.) It's so awesome that the center is able to work with that flock and generate income. A huge part of the CSP is just teaching the young women self-reliance and skills that they can turn into a business. Like the girl we visited on the home visit- she learned to make soap at the project, and now she's trying to save up some money to open her own shop, and make and sell soap! It's incredible! We visited a big room where they demonstrated the sewing machines and knitting stuff again. They also do batik at this center (or batika, as they called it.) That's fabric printing that I believe originated in Indonesia. We were able to buy some of their products, too! I got a batik wrap (not the size I had wanted, but I like the design) and a sweater for Anell! It is soooooo cute! They didn't have change, but I hadn't planned on asking for any, because the money goes back into the project, which is fine with me!
A tiny girl named Dori came and sat with us, between me and Emily. She wouldn't answer any questions, even when Keith asked in Swahili (like "do you want something to drink?") but I finally got her to write down her name after I wrote mine down. She just wouldn't talk. I'm guessing she was about 7 or 8, but the kids here are so small that sometimes it's hard to tell. She's the size of an American kindergartener. The project uniform was a white shirt, a purple jumper, white socks and black shoes. Dori's jumper was broken (one strap was completely ripped off) and there was at least one large hole in the skirt part. And there was a big tear in the shoulder of her shirt. And holes in her shoes. She sat quietly eating her food, listening to us talk, even though I'm sure she had no idea what we were saying. Emily and I took turns covering her in stickers, and talked to her. We took pictures of her eating, and showed them to her. Sometimes she showed a small smile. I put a sticker on her leg- she looked at it and immediately crossed her legs so I could get the other one. Emily put one of the foam airplanes she brought together for Dori, and after some coaxing, Dori would throw it for Emily to fetch! When Jeanie moved away to try to hear the pastor's remarks (it was raining again, and so hard to hear), Dori nicked her soda bottle, which was half empty. She went to work drinking the rest of the orange soda, and when there wasn't much left, she'd carefully add water to make it last longer. Dori indicated that she wanted to use my camera, so I showed her how. When we stood up to sing, I noticed she was still sitting down taking pictures. I picked her up so she could have a better view. She is skin and bones. I had touched her shoulder earlier while putting a sticker on her, and it was seriously like there was just bone underneath her shirt. Even though I picked her up to see the stage area better, she still just took pictures of random stuff behind us. They called the moms and babies up to the front, and then asked us to come up as well, so we could pray for them. A church elder then prayed for us, and it was really beautiful. I wish I could record all of their prayers.
Dori sidles over to check out Emily's hair
When we were done, it was time to leave. I looked around to try to find Dori. She had moved closer to the stage area with her little classmates, and they were picking up the half-finished bottles of soda others had left behind. I started walking up to her to say goodbye, and she just held her arms in the air and smiled. I picked her up and hugged her tight. I kissed her cheek and told her I loved her, and that she's beautiful and special. Emily took a picture for me, and when she asked Dori to look over at the camera, she pressed her cheek to mine and smiled. That's my favorite moment of the trip so far, I think.
We're back at the hotel, and have some free time before dinner to meet with our VBS groups. My team is going to do some sample crafts, so they know how to instruct the kids, and we have a finished product to show them as a demo. After that it's dinner, shower, and bed. I hope they put out salt for the fries tonight (or "creeps.") I'm starting to kind of hate rice. And I know I'm not the only one. It really does get hard to swallow after a while. Like you put it in your mouth and then your body forgets the whole chewing and swallowing routine. I don't think I'll have much else to say tonight. I need to get to sleep after dinner and make up for the rest I didn't get last night. Tomorrow we're going to a center that's pretty close by (the guide says "within walking distance", but I'm pretty sure we're taking a bus) and then we'll have the afternoon to do more VBS planning. It will be our last night at this hotel. Saturday morning we're checking out and heading to Katesh again to do VBS, then we'll be at the tented camp!!