This week, Dar Es Salaam experienced a horrible tragedy. Wednesday night, I felt far away blasts which I assumed was strange lightning since rainy season has begun and nighttime lightning storms are common. Small gunshot-like blasts would go off, interrupted by the occasional boom, those of which would rattle our windows and slam our downstairs doors. I signed onto the internet and saw that my sister had attempted to call me and had also sent me a message asking if I was okay and if the explosions were anywhere near my house. None of the local news channels were explaining what was going on at the time, but a reporter friend of mine sent me some information that he had found.
Apparently a lightning bolt had struck a military ammunitions base and had detonated the bombs that they were storing there. The explosions and the debris left chaos in their wake, destroying whole stretches of shantytowns and suburban neighborhoods. As of Friday, the local statistics of the number of people who had died was in the low 40’s and the number of injured was estimated at around 175. Our social worker Muhali has been working with the victims at the National Stadium, helping to reunite families and provide services to the children left lost and orphaned. He was one of the only social workers who volunteered and has been working tirelessly everyday (and most nights) trying to care for the 90 children who are now separated from their families. He is a national hero and we are VERY proud of him! Not only has he dedicated himself to helping his community, but he has been working with me and the children every step of the way. Providing advice, knowledge, and even counseling for the children. I do not know what we would do without him.
Besides that horrible occurrence, the first week for the children has been a very happy one. They have been playing with the neighborhood kids and have made several new friends. They spend their mornings doing writing exercises with the mamas and art classes with me. Afternoons are spent playing football with the neighborhood kids on the field across the street and sometimes watching cartoons (if we have power). We are preparing their records in cooperation with the Friends of Don Bosco so that they may enter school as soon as possible.
They have also received several visitors. Six volunteers and four teachers from the Friends of Don Bosco came by to see how the children were doing. The children took them from room to room, telling them about EVERYTHING! They proudly showed off the turtles, their toys, their classroom, their bedrooms, the kitchen, even their bathrooms. We all had lunch together and everyone enjoyed a few hours of playing and drawing. The next day, the children had another visit from our friend Tom, a volunteer from another orphanage close by. He had visited them when they lived at Friends of Don Bosco so they all knew him and greeted him warmly.
We have all fallen deeply in love with the children here and are as happy as we could possibly be. They are fantastic children and very well-behaved! The two older children, Suzie (11 year old girl) and Ellie (11 year old boy), are wonderful helpers and have accepted responsibility without being asked. Suzie helps the mamas wash dishes and care for the little ones, while Ellie cleans up after the other kids and helps Patrick with the outdoor chores. The younger children just love to sing, play, and hang on my arms! The little girls are very feminine, always playing with my hair and wanting to paint their nails. The little boys are very interested in the car and are great at helping me care for the animals.
Everyday is bringing us new adventure and experiences. I am trying to arrange a field trip to the beach next week, before the children go off to school. I’m sure that it will be great, being the first time most of these kids have ever even been in the ocean. Make sure to check back next week to see what shenanigans ensue as our cute little kids splash around in the Indian Ocean. Thanks again for reading, from all of us here at the help2kids home in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania!