Blog Tanzania

The Good and the Bad



It’s funny how so many things can happen while you wait for something to happen. That seems to be the nature of Tanzania. The big, important things can take months; paperwork casually floating from one person’s dusty cabinet to another’s disheveled desk. But in those moments between “waiting”, you find yourself sweating the small stuff. Running the help2kids home requires not only visits to Social Welfare and various other institutions of merited name, but also countless trips to the local markets to find (and then carry) 20 kilos of corn, fruits, and vegetables in 100°F (approximately 38°C) weather. I have never felt such personal satisfaction in the completion of shopping lists.

            Opting for the much less expensive local markets requires a few hours of time and a lot of patience and willingness to argue for a better price. The market is the best place to sharpen one’s Swahili. You spend ten minutes heatedly arguing with each other over a price, then end the transaction with a lot of smiles and hand-shaking. If you want to feel the true spirit of Tanzanian welcoming, go and spend the day in the market. If you are a foreigner who speaks Swahili, you get a price slightly lower than the prices given to other foreigners. However, if you are a foreigner who speaks Swahili and you refuse to back down from what you know is the right price, you will draw a crowd of pleased Tanzanians who will help you to bargain. You will also hear the word spread throughout the market that there is a “mzungu” (slang for white person) who speaks Swahili, so everyone should be careful! I love hearing that.           


As some of you may know, Abu has joined us here at the help2kids home. He has been an absolute joy to have! I wake up to the sound of his giggling and playing out on the slide or singing with Mama Leah. When Abu first joined us, he knew two words: “choo” (bathroom) and “maji” (water). He required someone to take him to the bathroom and to fetch the water for him when he asked. Now Abu has over 20 words, goes to the bathroom whenever he needs to, and drinks from the special water bottle that I have given to him (he brings it to you when he needs more or just drags you to the kitchen saying the word over and over again). He even surprised me in the kitchen this morning by spontaneously singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” (in Swahili) and pointing to all of the correct body parts!

I have written up a special ABA program for Abu (applied behavioral analysis) and am currently training Mama Leah on how to correctly perform the training program. We have also started to invite the neighborhood children to come over and play everyday for a few hours as part of a social program for Abu, which is also helping tremendously. He has begun to play games appropriately with them and seeks them out for attention. Having them here also helps me, as the sound of their laughter acts as a constant reminder of how precious these children are and how much we could do to help those around us. I love driving in to the house after coming back from errands, only to have the doors swing open to a bunch of smiling, waving kids! I do need to be careful that I don’t spoil all of them though, as I am prone to always picking up some candy or fruit for them whenever I go out. I can’t help it, look at those adorable faces!!


Unfortunately though, we had another medical emergency here. Mama Grace (our fantastic cleaning lady and wife of Patrick) came to me a few days ago complaining of abdominal pain. She said that she had been having it for a few days and hadn’t been able to eat. I immediately sprang into action and got her into the car to go to the doctor’s office. In the car, she fell to the floor and almost passed out. I frantically drove through muddied streets filled with potholes and chickens to get to her doctor’s office located in a small Red Cross building the next town over. Patrick and I carried her inside where the doctor performed several tests and then called me in. He told me that she had ruptured an internal organ and was having severe internal bleeding. She had a full blood transfusion and emergency surgery, surprisingly getting released that same day. It has now been three days and I am happy (and severely relieved) to report that she looks almost 100% better! I honestly do not know what I would do without her and the thought of her being in such pain and not telling me for a few days drove me crazy. I gathered the staff for a meeting on the importance of immediate healthcare and that they should never be afraid to approach me for help. We all live together and have grown to be like family. They even call me Mama now, which I have both love and hate! I love it because it shows respect and affection. I hate it because my name is Cassandra which now makes my name Mama Cass (Mama Cass is the former band member of the Mama’s & the Papa’s, who due to her weight problem, was rumored to have died by choking on a ham sandwich).

To end this lengthy blog, I would once again like to comment on the other tenants of the help2kids property. The man who mows our lawn came yesterday and began pulling these large objects from the grass and placing them on the sidewalk before he began. I casually watched the process from the mat where Grace, Leah, and I sit to escape the heat when one of the objects began to move! Grace and Leah laughed at my child-like excitement to see that they were giant snails. I immediately ran upstairs to grab my camera so that I could document these wonderments of nature for you who are living amongst only tiny snails. You’re welcome! 

Thank you again for reading! I always enjoy reading your comments and would love to answer any questions that you may have about the help2kids home here in sunny Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania 🙂


I taught Abu how to use the slide. Now he’s a pro!