Monday, October 28, 2013

Graduation 2013

The days leading up to October 25th were filled with events from rehearsals to cleaning to painting. The entire Angel Secondary was bustling with activities as the staff and student prepared for this special day. For the graduating class of 2013, there was much excitement and anticipation, for others, there was a twinge of sadness as the reality of these students graduating finally sets in. For the kids at Angel House Orphanage, there was much pride and joy as their big brother and father-figure, William Mwita, was graduating.

For several hours of the morning, it seemed like there was always someone running some where to get something done. A glance at the graduation area, and it looked like pure chaos. Every now and then, you would hear a voice over the sound system requesting someone to do something. The graduates though, were full of smiles, posing for the cameras time and time again, trying to grab a hold of every possible person for a photo op moment.

The celebration itself was filled with entertainment. Even though the students had probably seen most of the acts from the several days of rehearsals, it was so well done that they were laughing, clapping and cheering as if they've never seen that act before. They surely are a very talented group of students! After some encouraging words from the invited guests, it was time for the awards and leaving cerificates. Angel House had a very proud moment as William was named Best in Discipline. :)

The Mwita family with William

Photo op moment with some of his classmates

William, dancing with some of his classmates to provide entertainment

Saturday, June 8, 2013

School's Out!!

After a few stressful weeks of end term examinations, the kids at Angel House are happy to be able to relax and have a month off from school. They look forward to having some fun and not having to worry about school for a bit although the adults have some tutoring planned to allowed weaker students to catch up, or enable other students to keep improving. Education sure is important! 

Prior to getting out of school, the Angel House Secondary School Students had a talent show (some of the kids from Angel House Orphanage were involved) and since they hosted it in the orphanage, it was lots of entertainment for all. It included singing, dancing and acrobatic acts, soda tasting, eating competition and a "Miss Angel" contest. The audience were well entertained despite being packed in together like sardines. 


Soda Tasting 

A packed audience 

Acrobatic Act by the Scouts 

A few weeks ago, Angel House also welcomed 2 new little angels. All the kids a pretty thrilled and are happy to be watching over them or playing with them. They were pretty timid when they first arrived but they are adjusting well and are slowly coming out of their shells and enjoying being fussed by all the older kids.  

Jackson and Neema

Neema and Jackson were brought to Angel House after losing their parents in a tragic accident. They were all on a piki (motorcycle) when the accident occurred and leaving Neema and Jackson without parents. Two of our missionary volunteers Roy and Valarie (who have recently returned to the U.S.) agreed to sponsor them if the authorities would bring them to Angel House so here they are! They're favorite things to do is taking naps and playing on the swing. They are quite the independent individuals and might sometimes get frustrated if you try to help them with the "little things". I'm sure they will get even more love and attention now that all the other kids are out of school and will be around the orphanage all day. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

An African Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, everyone was stirring, though there was no mouse. The stockings were left in a box by the door, and soon everyone got up on the floor. There was dancing smiling and hugs big and small. It was Christmas at Angel House, for the big and the small.

To the outside world, it may be hard to get into the Christmas spirit in Tarime, Tanzania. It is possible to find a Christmas tree, a spindly, fake one. It is not as easy to find lights and ornaments for it. No houses have big displays, and very few of the businesses. Shades of red and green are hard to find, and it feels downright depressing to hear White Christmas when it is 85 and sunny.

And yet, none of these things get people down. To many, Christmas is considered a holiday for women and children, but families are together, children are celebrated, and the birth of Jesus Christ is front and center.

Out at Angel House, the neighbors from Gamasara village flocked into the main room to share Chrismtas with the kids. There were songs, there were prayers and there was dancing. Everyone danced. Kids danced with adults, missionaries danced with grandmothers, kids danced with each other. By American standards, there may have been too many people in the room, but it was cozy and family style.

Afterwards, most of the kids were still excited, cheering for the Christmas celebration tomorrow. A few had to be put to bed. When they woke in the morning, they did some chores, got in their smart, Christmas clothes and recieved gifts, gifts from America, a big deal! After they opened their gifts, they ate a special Christmas brunch of sweet mandazi and chai with milk. Oh, the life!

They trekked over to church, carefully to keep their shoes clean, and heard the story of the first Christmas. There was much rejoicing by all. There was a special blessing on all of the children, and there were a lot of children present.

The face everyone woke up to. Neema singing, Krismasi ni leo!

So excited about her new dress

Three lovely young ladies, Grace, Bhoke and Esther Melisa

Rahabu smiles wide for her Christmas gifts

Paskalia can't believe her good fortune

Bhoke is a lucky girl today

Awe, Kikwete, you look smart

Lucky Grace

Sammy and Joseph

This is how the girls get ready for church

And the boys. 
Lunch was bananas, potatoes, pineapple, pilau, beef, goat, corn and soda, all of their favorite meals thrown into one. There was enough food for everyone to have seconds and even thirds if they wanted. Many did. Afterward, everyone loaded up into the truck and went to Goldland for more soda and dancing. Goldland opens their doors to all of the kids in the community for dancing. The kids danced, and danced and danced some more, until they were ready to go home, many having a hard time keeping their eyes open. It was a Merry Christmas in Tarime, even without elaborate decorations and snow. Maybe the kids get the meaning of Christmas better than anyone.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Littlest Angel

It was a warm and sunny day in Tarime Tanzania. All of the kids at Angel House were enjoying some time off from school; playing ball,  fetching water, just taking time to relax, when all of a sudden, a police truck pulled in the gates. Some where excited, thinking they would get to meet a role model, and some were nervous, thinking "What did I do wrong?" Turns out, nothing. The truck was carrying two women, an officer and a toddler. The women went back to speak to Teddy and Salma, chatted for a few minutes and left the toddler there.

Turns out, the little girl was found on the streets of Tarime, along with her mother who suffers from mental illness. Like so many of the kids, she has learned early on that life is not fair.  Angel House staff were told her name is Esther, and she is two years old. However, the kids couldn't figure out why she wouldn't answer to her name, until she told them, in one of the only words she knows, that her name is Melisa. Right now, she answers to either, especially if someone wants to hold her or feed her.

After a week of TLC, Esther/Melisa is a happy, smiling girl, who follows her new brothers and sisters around all day long and wants to be included. She doesn't say much, but her sharp eyes don't miss anything. She likes attention and cuddles, knows how to play chase, and loves mandazi. Like anyone could blame her for that one. She just wants to be one of the kids, and so far, is getting included very well.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Karibu Roy and Valerie!

Valarie, Benson, Roy and Joseph take a moment to celebrate new friends
Roy and Valarie, welcome to Tanzania
Monday night, Angel House and Angel Secondary School were able to welcome two new volunteers to the family, when Roy Hanson and Valarie Brown crossed the gate, and headed out into Nairobi, Kenya. Invididual Volunteers from upstate New York, they are excited to be working with the project for the next six months. The beautiful country side of Kenya and Tanzania helped to cement this affirmation.

Their first two days in Tarime have been eventful, but nothing is better than hitting the ground running in this situation  They have already met msot of the school staff, and were able to take part in new teacher interviews. They also met some of the important people in town, and are well on the way to making connections.

Today, they explored the town and met some of the vendors and businesses. They are happy to be on the ground in Tarime, and as Valarie says, once the jet-lag wears off, they are ready for all sorts of adventures, something easy to find in Africa.

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Reason to Celebrate

Tanzanians hardly need a reason to party. They love to have a good time and show their legendary hospitality. A person coming to visit is cause for a celebration, with the soda being brought out and something special for dinner. And when there is something monumental, they go all out.

Saturday, November 30th, there was cause to celebrate indeed. Chacha Yusf and Kikwete Marwa Chacha graduated from nursery school and will be moving up to primary school in January. Their teachers made remarks that these two boys are both well behaved and at the top of their class at St. Michael's.

The ceremony started right on time, with songs from the church choir and  performances from the kids. Every child danced and sang in at least one performance. They did skits in English, songs in Swahili and traditional Kurian and Luo dances. They were so proud of themselves.

Halfway through the ceremony, parents and guests were invited to tour the school and see work done by the students. The school was very nice, with toys and games, boxes of crayons and coloring pages and lots of cut outs on the wall. The students could all point to their country on a map and knew their basic colors.

All students wore school uniforms and their caps and gowns. The gowns were blue and pink, and the caps were green. Kikwete was sure the cap, not in the traditional shape, made him look like a rhino.

There were speeches done by teachers and people in the Catholic church, and many of the students had a chance to give speeches and to share what they are grateful for. Finally, parents were invited to put sashes on their child and the children were called up to receive their diplomas. They also receive small backpacks, that they may use when they go on to primary school.

When diplomas were all handed out and final prayer was said, the students all got a piece of cake and everyone was invited to a lunch of meat, rice, potatoes, fruit and soda. There were enough soda that everyone could have three, and for sure some of the kids took full advantage.

The children line up to perform

Children and teacher sing a song to the audience

Kids listen to the speeches

Chacha accepts his diploma

Kikwete accepts his diploma

Kikwete, Chacha and a friend smile for the camera. 
Chacha and Kikwete are more than ready to head out on the next adventure: primary school. Both have worked hard to get there and are ready for additional challenges.  Many of the students are able to move up a class in January, because of hard work and dedication on their part. They are people to be admired always.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Beauty of Angel House

One of the most exciting part of Angel House and Angel Secondary School are the visitors who become ambassadors. With volunteers coming in and out, the project now has friends from Kansas, Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Montana, just to name a few. That is a big part of the United States though, getting to know the kids and students, wanting them to succeed, wishing the best for them, and providing the means that they can have a better future.

Visitors come in and see the potential, either in one child or student, or in a whole group of them. That the students have a chance to attend school, with a quality of education, means a better future for Tanzania as a whole. Visitors, long term and short term, can't help but fall in love with the kind people and beautiful landscape that is home to those they support.

Tarime, and many of the towns surrounding it, can be a little rough when they are first seen. The driving can be nerve-wracking for visitors, and not just because cars drive on the British side of the road. Once they figure out the system, it is fine. Especially when they ride with someone who knows the system. The town has no Wal-Mart (obviously), and looks run down. But when they step back, it is impossible not to see the beauty. The country-side, the fruit trees, the colorfully painted buildings are all a part of life. The African sunsets that grace Tarime nightly are a sight to see and a sight to come for. As is the sky full of new stars. Perhaps no one who has visited has failed to see the beauty.

The thing that makes this place beautiful is the people. The towns' people, who go out of their way to be hospitiable. The people who work hard and long to provide for their family. The people who a simple wave and smile can make their day a little less rough. The people know that life is not fair, and have learned it well and completely, but they still smile and go about their lives.

By far, the best way to see the countryside: on the back of a pikipiki
An example of Tanzanian arcitecture

Invidiual Volunteer Rachel Tremis, along with family Becky, Sheryl and Bob Tremis, William, Grace and Bhoke, on the shore of Lake Victoria, before venturing into Serengeti National Park

One of the beautiful African sunsets.
The Angel House kids show this the best of all. Their entire day can be made good by a piece of candy or a a new pencil. They are quick to love new visitors and will give their heats completely. They fight and laugh and play and work together, and if anyone tries to hurt one of them, that child is quickly discouraged. They work hard for what they have and have a sense of pride that they helped grow the food they are eating. They  love completely and without asking anything in return. It is because of them that the visitors choose to help, to spread the word, to give. Anyone who has met them is immeasurably blessed.