Blog Tanzania

Commissioners and Kittens


The culture of the stamp here in Tanzania is that no paper is “official” until it is stamped several times by everyone that it comes in contact with. So, I got us our own stamp! We’re in the game now!

When one is attempting to obtain licensing or other important documents in an already frustratingly difficult environment, holidays are something to despise. Buildings are partially closed (pretty much just the offices that you need to go to) and people are on vacation with their return date unknown to anyone. Having been told by Social Welfare that our papers are now at the Commissioner’s office downtown, I attempted to go and speak with the Commissioner on Monday. In a government building in Tanzania, nobody knows where anyone else is located. Inquiring to the whereabouts of the Commissioner meant being told to go to every level of the building in a sporadic pattern, to be repeated several times. Finally, a cleaning woman informed us that the Commissioner was on the fourth floor. Feeling successful, I confidently walked to the Commissioner’s office, flung open the door with a triumphant smile on my face, and saw that no one was in there. Another cleaning woman (the most helpful employees in Tanzanian government) informed me that unfortunately the Commissioner had a family member pass away and would be out until Thursday. Or Friday. Or the following week. 


On the bright side, Frank and Maria Hakenjos from thehelp2kids Board, arrived here on Wednesday evening! Before leaving Switzerland, Frank had asked me if he could bring anything for the house. I told him that a few watercolor sets might be nice, as they are difficult to get here and I would like to start doing art therapy with Abu and doing art classes with the other children. To my extreme delight, Frank and Maria brought not only water colors but  acrylics, brushes, pencils, crayons, oil pastels, markers, and toys. It finally felt like Christmas around here! 

 Friday found us all heading off to the Commissioner’s office again. The same game of tag ensued, everyone telling us that the Commissioner is no longer on the fourth floor, so we went to the third, who said they were on the fifth, who told us they were on the fourth, and it turns out that they were now on the third after all. And the Commissioner was still gone. Definitely not shocking, but always disappointing. However, we were able to get a different Commissioner to look into the whereabouts of our paperwork. An hour of waiting produced nothing. We were told that they do not think that they have the paperwork and that we now had to go to the Ministry on Monday and then return to the Commissioner’s on Tuesday to track the application’s location. So, here we go again next week! 

In the wee hours between driving from place to place,help2kids has received two new faces. The first is our new mama Maria. She is 23 years old and comes from the Upendo College for Childcare in Moshi, Tanzania. She is very sweet and has already begun to work with Abu on the therapy program that I created. We also got a kitten! I purchased her in the market after seeing a few shiny eyes peer at me from inside of a small cardboard box. I have heard a few rats scurrying around here and figured that we could use one. The kitten was feisty and scared the first day and I feared that I had made a horrible spontaneous purchase (which I am apt to do). I knew that I had to keep the kitten in my room for fear that it would run off before acclimating to it’s new location. This meant listening to it’s fearful crying all day and all night. I attempted to put the kitten outside, which resulted in her getting stuck in the roof and Patrick having to climb up into the rafters to save her. Just when I was about to declare full allegiance to canines, the kitten approached me slowly and curled up on my head in a warm lump of purring goodness. We are now best friends and spend every evening curled up together watching movies and playing with string. Her official name is Lieutenant Pickle Pants, but we usually just call her Pickle!

help2kids_04Pickle likes to curl up with a good book on a lazy afternoon

This upcoming week will see us running around from building to building, finding ourselves in laughably horrible situations and hopefully with a new mascot for help2kids! No, it is not another kitten. We also hope to be heading up to the cities of Moshi and Arusha to meet officials from other children’s homes. Our car has been less than reliable and so we are not sure about the best way to get there. Being stranded in the middle of nowhere in sub-saharan Africa does not sound that appealing, so tune in next week to see if we made it!

Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!!!! 

Maria and Abu drew flowers together 

help2kids_06Othmond and our friends from the neighborhood enjoying the sidewalk chalk that Frank and Maria brought. 

Going to our local market


Abu serenades Frank with Waka Waka (by Shakira)