What a week. Our third week in Tanzania and our second week in Mto wa Mbu was a busy one. Before the week began, we visited a Masai village just outside of town. The Masai pride themselves in keeping to tradition. They live in huts made out of cow dung, sticks, and grass, and live in the open grasslands. When we arrived outside a grouping of houses and were invited into the village. The Masai came out of the entrance chanting and dancing, and we followed them back in. The girls were given bead necklaces and the guys were given wooden sticks, and we danced with them while they sang. We were invited into one of their houses to learn more and ask questions about their culture. On Sunday, we had a day of rest and laundry before the beginning of the week.
On Monday, we went to Mwalimu Anna's to set up a couple of Raspberry Pi mini-computers for their computer lab. On Monday and Tuesday, we are spent our time at Mwalimu Anna's to work with the students to educate them on Information and Communication Technology (ICT). We are working with grades three through six (seven is the highest level) to teach them how to use Microsoft Word. A lot of the students do not have any experience using Word. They have ICT classes, but they learn the theory, not the application. In the lab, we had six computers set up and classes of fifteen to eighteen students. The students sat two to three students to a computer, and had to take turns typing.
The students are excited to learn how to type. A lot of the students have been struggling, but they learn fast. The grade three students have never used a computer before, so they were fascinated by everything. Another problem the students face is using a mouse. This came as a surprise to us; using a mouse is normal to us that it did not occur to us that the students may not know how to use one.
On Wednesday, half of the team went to Mwalimu Anna's to teach ICT, while the other half of the team stayed up at the Rift Valley Secondary School to talk with the teachers and EwaldTesha, the director of the Asante Africa foundation. Ewald and the teachers talked to the one half of the team about the scope of our involvement with the school. We talked about working on projects with ICT, chemistry and physics education, and helping design an expanded water system.
On Thursday, Matt T. and Corinn went to Mwalimu Anna's while the rest of us headed to Majengo Children's Home to talk with some of the managers there about their water system. We toured the property to learn about where the water comes from and how they expect to receive more water into their storage tanks. They are having troubles with low water pressure and are hoping to tap into another water supply to increase their available water for the children. After lunch, we went to the Masai Market outside of town. The market was filled with people selling piles of clothing and toiletries and everything you could possibly imagine on tarps on the ground. There were also people selling maandazi (fried dough) and fried food and fresh produce. People were even selling cattle and goats. We were even able to try some goat meat that was cooked over hot coals. After the market we all headed back to Majengo to do our education project with the kids. One of activities was making bracelets with beads that change color in the sun to teach the kids about UV light. Our other activity was coloring pictures to teach the kids about conserving water and electricity.
On Friday, Matt T, Corinn, and Taylor went to the local hospital in Mto wa Mbu, while Joe, Matt B., and Nate went to Majengo. At Majengo, we established a finalized schedule for the rest of our time here. At the hospital, we talked to a doctor and exchanged contact information for possible projects in the future.
On Saturday, we decided to hike up the Rift, since we are so close. It was quite the hike to the top. We had to stop several times along the way to catch our breath. Although arduous, the hike was worth it in the end. From the top of the Rift we could see for miles. We could see the grasslands and the banana plantations and even Lake Manyara. We hiked around the top for a bit before beginning or descent. It was a good way to end a busy week.