The Bintis

After Eva’s last trip to Africain 2009 I wondered what impressions, memories and comfort level she’dexperience this trip.  As it turns outour daughters or bintis have been intrepid and swiftly well adjusted to cultural norms hereregarding dress and behaviour.  Both aremore likely to be found in African print skirts and T-shirts, something neitherDavid or I ever thought we would see. “ Shikamoo”, the greeting of respect toelders meaning I put myself under your feet, is being used comfortably now andthe stream of locals we pass on our way are so pleased to know the bintis are wellprepared. 
Surprisingly the girls have been eager to wander on theirown within a safe radius.  Leaving David,Mary and me in a Lasso village bar with sodas, Serengeties and HBC ThaddeusMzaki, the girls walked down the mountain side, crossed a river flowingfrom  Kilimanjaro and climbed up theother side of the valley, passing through Mkyashi on the way back to Kilema.  We watched them amble off on the red clayframed by grasses and  banana palms  with amazing nonchalance, feeling at home.   Onmarket day they wandered away from us in the busy ‘sekoni’ or market,  into throngs of kitenge wrapped women, moundsof tomatoes, salt, dried tilapia fish from Lake Victoria, tea, soda bottlesfilled with vegetable oil, others filled with kerosene.   Later whenwe met them, Caroline’s arms werefilled with mangos and corn which they later planned to grill over coals.  When we stayed backed at sekoni theysauntered off to Kilema hospital, weaving past a cross-section of Tanzanianlife; the elegant, the aged, the hard at work, the destitute, the colourfullywrapped, the contemporary, the mentally ill, the educated, the intoxicated andthe young.  The girls held their own quite well. 
While reviewing sponsored students at Kirefure primary school,the bintis offered an impromptu geography lesson and organized teams for a quickgame of soccer. They have sat in on school meetings and student reviews withpatience and interest. They have been riding dalla dalla’s without anxiety,shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee, hip to hip with villagers. They have beenteaching computer to HBC Augustine Shayo, who has requested computer trainingfrom me for four years and has finally realized a dream.  The girls recently worked the Pamoja Tunawezamedical caravan with friend Sidonie, and learned how to use a electronic b/pcuff and screen for high blood pressures! And high some were! At the Kilema OVCprogram they have carried food sacks, measured out beans for  distribution, fitted shirts, offered up schoolsupplies and support.  A few days agoCaroline and Eva  made out bank depositslips and counted shillings (eliminating the most soiled and flimsy) for student tuition payments at the CRDB bank inMarangu and reflected on the generosity of fellow students at Central Middle Schoolwho provided money to send  two students toDarajani Secondary School, Daniel and Lucina.  Many thanks to Central students!

No complaints about missed meals, no snacks, cold showers,bug bites,pit toilets, long walks, dust, heat, bugs or geckos…..well I could be wrongabout geckos.   Despite all the surroundingstrangeness and physical discomfort when asked what the greatest challenge isCaroline says, “the language, trying to understand what people are saying andsometimes the staring.”  Eva’s incisiveanswer, “Nothing really…… maybe the bugs.”  In all, the bintis have been doing a great job over here and we areexceedingly proud of them.   

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