Tanzania, Africa travel journal – day 15

categories: Travel

We only had some cleanup to do on the chapel project before the bus from JM Tours arrived at 10am. We drove through Arusha to the MAASAE Girls’ School. It is not the Maasai Girls’ School as I had been saying. We learned that by law the school cannot have more than 75% of the students from one tribe so it is the Maa Speakers Advanced Education school. The school provides secondary education for girls from the Maasai and some other pastoral tribes.

We stopped in town to pick up some school supplies as a gift and got to the school at around 11am. All of the girls in the school are sponsored and 2 of the ladies in the group are sponsoring a girl. Those two girls plus other girls sponsored by others at our church came out to greet us and to help lead our tour. This added greatly to the enjoyment of the tour. We also heard the girls’ choir sing which was wonderful.

We learned that the acceptance of the school has grown greatly since the school opened about a decade ago. The reluctance to see the daughters educated has decreased now that some have returned as nurses, teachers and even 3 lawyers.

We walked into a computer class in their fairly well appointed computer lab (Windows 98 era machines). My expectations to what it would mean to teach a computer class in Tanzania was reset. The lesson we heard was how to turn on and off the machine. Oh yeah, these kids grew up in a boma and did not start using the mouse by age 2 like mine.

The other problem that they have had at the school is that most of the girls have no experience with flush toilets and use too much force when flushing and break the toilets in the dorms. So they have pit toilets for the girls to use as a backup. They are more comfortable with these toilets because they find the idea of going to bathroom in the same place you sleep unhygienic. This seems odd to me as most of them were used to sleeping in a house made largely of cow dung. The chaplain also said that they clean their own dorms but their standards of clean are not the same for similar reasons.

The chaplain at the school is Jean Wolstrom who is from the Seattle area. She and her husband Marv have been here for 8 years. Marv was the only teacher for the first few days of Tumaini University because the school had to wait months for approval to open. When they finally got the green light to open their doors they learned on a Sunday that they could open the next day.

When we asked Jean what she missed from the United States he answer was Starbucks, bookstores and sugar-free Jello. They still follow their Mariners via the internet (although their connection is 500 baud which is unimaginable to me.)

We visited the home of the Jean and Marv which is a round house about 1000 square feet but very cool looking with a spiral staircase in the middle to a half loft second story. They have hooked up a battery backup system so they can be watching a movie when all of their neighbors are without power.

They recommended a restaurant in town that they go to when they need a break from African food. They called a friend “CG” in town to get the number. CG acts as a central information clearing house for the American

Expats in Northern Tanzania.

We got a little more insight into the Maasai and Tanzanian AIDS problem in conversations at the girls school. We learned that the Maasai husband expects sex every night (and beatings were mentioned earlier if a wife resisted). It makes me think that polygamy may have been the women’s idea. This also seems to be why teachers and nurses may have higher rates of AIDS as they often have to take a job away from home and apparently the ideas of abstinence and faithfulness are very foreign.

After a wonderful stay we returned to Arusha and shopped at the ShopRite shopping center for snacks, beverages, spices for tea, etc. This is the place where the wazungu shop and I have not seen so many white people for some time. Some also went into the Stiggybucks for their fancy coffee and ran into CG from the previous paragraph.

We dined as the only diners at Frame Tree. It is a very expensive restaurant by Tanzanian standards. With wine and dessert it came to about $20 a person before tip. But we had a wonderful dinner of steak, calamari, pasta, etc. The food was wonderful.

We returned to the seminary where I was soundly beaten at Scrabble.

by Chris Christensen

I am the creator of AmateurTraveler.com, a popular travel blog / podcast. I am also a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast, The Bible Study Podcast and the Passport Marketing and PR Podcast. I am the owner of BloggerBridge.com and a software consultant.

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