A Big Week (English)
Before I came here, I had been regularly monitoring Cassie’s blog and was surprised that she wrote a journal every week. At that time I thought “is really so much happening in only one week?”. Since I’m here I can only confirm: Yes, it is! You can write a new report every week without an issue! And so this week’s blog is also filled with all of our adventures here in Mbezi Beach, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
Last Saturday the mood here was glorious, again. As the kids get very little candy here, I decided to bake cookies with them! No sooner said than done. The necessary ingredients were fast concerned and in no time, many hard-working assistants found! The children loved to help in the kitchen, to cut the chocolate and to mix the batter. Fortunately, Mama Anna, who always has the right touch for the quantity of ingredients was also there! We had all together a giant fun in the kitchen and the cookies were so delicious.
Since the kids now have school holidays for two weeks, they are also at home in the morning. So I was also working in the morning with the various groups in our ready classroom. The “turtles” have started this week with the alphabet. With the “giraffes” and the “lions” I have gone through the colors. It was really fun to teach the kids. They have really done a great job. It’s amazing how fast and with such joy the children learn. They really give their best and they can not get enough from the lesson. Constantly they ask me: “Teacher, Darasani?” (Darasani = classroom).
In order to provide some context and organization, I have established rules for the classroom with our social worker Muhali which I wrote in English and in Swahili on the walls. Then Muhali explained the rules in one afternoon class and made sure that the children understood them. As a sign of compliance and agreement the kids signed the rules with their handprints and immortalized themselves in our classroom in this way. Check out the pictures!
Unfortunately, for the first time we had to deal with a few behavior problems this week. I mean it is quite clear that our children are just “normal kids”. As elsewhere in the world there are little problems, which you can and need to solve with suitable means. Since the children previously never had any toys, they therefore did not exactly know how to use them. And because no child ever has possessed their own toys of course everyone wants to have it for his or her own. So there are a couple of play cars, etc., which broke during the last time they played with them. To counteract this in future and to teach them responsibility, we have bought a box in which the toys are kept now. If a child wants something to play with, it will be written down on a check-out list (who has taken which toy). Does the child break the toy or doesn’t bring it back, he or she must expect consequences. And the box has already shown the desired effect. So far no other toy broke!
In addition, some children have tended to solve conflicts with or hitting, pushing, etc. Since we want to teach the children that with hitting absolutely no problems can be eliminated, we have introduced different rules. In contrast to the teachers and adults here who are applying completely old-fashioned “methods of education” such as hitting with a small stick or ruler in school, we want to show the children that hitting is never an alternative and doesn’t help in any situation.
First, I have crafted different colored cards for each child which indicate the different state of affairs: the green card is like the normal state, the yellow card means the child has been “warned” and the red card means when you compare it with football: time-out! So in a figurative sense, a punishment like: no television, no juice, etc.
Also the children who have behaved exemplary this week had been rewarded. They were allowed to join me in the classroom to paint with water colors, while the remaining children had to help Mama Grace with the household work and Uncle Patrick with the work in the garden (we plant our own vegetables here, too) or with sweeping the house.
After the children learned their lesson, we played a kind of water game in the afternoon. The children were divided into 2 groups and the goal of the game was to fill a soda bottle with a cup of water. Watch the video. The children enjoyed themselves immensely!
Besides all the things that happened here in the help2kids house, at the beginning of this week we had an experience of a special kind. On Monday we were on our way to Kariakoo, a huge and chaotic market in a dangerous neighborhood, where you can get all possible things for the best prices. In order to reach this part of town you have to complete once the bustling city, where every day is an absolute traffic chaos. Unfortunately, we slightly took the wrong way and accidentally turned into a one-way street going in the opposite direction. Even before we really noticed what happened, we had two armed policemen sitting in the car already! They then gave us two different options. Either they wanted to take us to the police station, where Cassie should have to leave the car and pay a hefty fine, or (now the African part) we should pay them some money for their own pockets to make them unaware of the action! Incredible, but true. This is the way how it goes here in Africa! The police here just want bribery. Well, just by the way … … we decided to take the 2nd Alternative 😉
As if the experience with the police hadn’t been enough for that day, our very reliable car (since I have been here it was already three times at the garage) broke down in the middle of Kariakoo at an intersection just before a dala-dala (minibus, public transport in Africa)! It could not have come worse! Now I really understood why Cassie attempts to circumvent the drive to Kariakoo as long as possible! Fortunately, Patrick was with us in this moment, the only one who stayed cool and even managed to fix the car! Thank you Patrick! Happy End. We have actually received all the necessary things and then after another car incident (the car broke down completely) on the way home we finally arrived safely there with a taxi. This was truly a crazy day! Experienced anything like it, I think only in Africa!
That’s it from me this week, thank you for reading the blog. I hope I could get you a little bit closer to the exciting life in Tanzania and the great experiences that I can gain with help2kids.