Savouring Sembeti : A Culinary Safari and Other Adventures




Setting off later than we’d intended – a measure of any day here, go with the flow and it will happen! – we arrived by taxi at Sembeti to meet Mr Tem, the Home Based Care (HBC) who has been a stalwart support to the Care & Treatment Centre (CTC) as its Chair in recent years. After an initial run thru’ with Steph on her 8 students, we then set off on our day of home visits to meet some of them. From the start we were accompanied by a gaggle of 10 orphan & vulnerable young boys who meet with Mr Tem monthly, and for whom he displays care & concern. They were a remarkable boost to our day, cavorting around us, teasing us and making constant efforts to teach us more Swahili, not to mention carrying our bags all day! We arrived to greet student Victoria who has just completed Form 4 and is awaiting her results; where she will go from here is uncertain until she hears. We presented her bibi with a blanket.






As we walked along the maze of intersecting paths, we were imbibing the remarkably lush & dense vegetation, bananas, coffee, thick undergrowth as well as many other trees & bushes, providing welcome shade as the day heated up and birds singing all the while. And then on to the home of Germin, who has been adopted with his siblings into his uncle’s family, as his widowed father has mental health problems. His uncle is a veterinarian but also works as a volunteer science teacher at the local Resesa secondary school, and has 3 children of his own, making a total of 10 in his household. Germin, as the other of Steph’s students, was given a backpack with 4 notebooks, 4 pencils, 4 pens, pencil sharpener, pencil crayons & one white medium shirt, also a blanket. And he was given a final urging by his uncle to ‘work hard’!








IMG_2031-001From there Mr Tem surprised us with a visit to the local river (which originates at Kilimanjaro, ending in the Indian Ocean) with its white waters tumbling over the rocks, where women were washing clothes and carrying water upon their heads. Many boys leapt crazily around in the water as we cooled our hot feet! What a lovely break in our busy day! As we navigated our way gingerly down and up the steep, slippery path (often with the aid of a small boy’s hand), the women carried their loads without missing a step! And finally back to Sembeti where Mr Tem’s wife treated us to homemade samosas and a rest in the shade.






Then off again to the home of the twins Selina & Daniel who are in Darajani secondary at Marangu. Their sister Lucinda is away learning tailoring skills & living with an aunt in Arusha. They live with their widowed mother in a very clean, attractively decorated house, but have only bananas as their income source. Onwards via brief meet & greets with a sister of Mr Tem and his 2nd mother who also treated us to a taste of mbegi, the local home brew which we were told was but 5 days old! ‘Tis made of finger millet & bananas, the latter chewed in the course of preparation (which we fortunately did not learn until AFTER we’d all imbibed)! We also met another of his sisters . . .









And finally to the home of Glory who was not there. She has no mother or father, but lives with her bibi & babu (grandmother & grandfather) who own cows, and work goats which they do not own. There is also a great-grandmother who suffered a stroke. Bibi & babu work the shamba which has to sustain their family of 10.


We ended our remarkable day with Mr Tem back at Sembeti, savouring his wife’s banana & yam dish garnished with chunks of meat! What an opportunity we had all had to get a glimpse of how Steph’s sponsored students live, and witness their real appreciation for the gifts we left them.








Leaving Sembeti, four of us traveled with Steph in a taxi along a remarkably rocky road to visit Max, whom she has supported through secondary school. He is now completing Form 6, and expects to go to university next January to do business studies. Max annually brings a chicken to present to Steph, and is now a tall fluent English speaker. His widowed mother, an HBC, has a chronic illness. Despite her challenges, she annually ensures she meets Steph at Kilema hospital. The family lives in a mud & pole house, beautiful newly newspapered walls lighten the interior considerably. Mama, her sister & Max entertained us to gigantic helpings of their traditional Chagga chicken & banana stew with sikumaweki (green leaf vegetable), & fresh orange. Max then showed us their shamba, complete with cow & calf, a goat with twins & chickens.













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