Road To Happiness

Part of the pleasure of meeting with students is to visit them where they are living, studying and working. Lillian is a new graduate with a B.Ed. and she was easy to find, staying at her aunt’s house in Mkyashi village near Kilema. With the hiring freeze imposed by the new Magifui government  in December 2015 new graduates, even with university degrees, have been in a holding pattern as new civil servant hirings.
Lillian has been waiting for a teacher post since graduation.  We found her gracious, as all students are, but stressed and lacking  hope as to how she would continue. Having only an aunt offering her a room  to live, she is entertaining starting a business for another thread  of income. We recommended her for a teaching position to Mr. Mkundi, a friend and acquaintance of many years and now Headmaster at the local Kilema Vocational School.   Last week she started teaching on probation, likely as a volunteer,  and seemed to have a new infusion of enthusiasm for the future.  As a part of that negotiation a past KSF student Raziki, who is working as a jack of all trades at Kilema hospital, will start electrical training at the same vocational school in May. It was a win win! Ah connections !
 Last week we ventured into new territory taking a very safe Shabibi bus to the centre of this beautiful country. Dodoma is the Tanzanian capital  and we came to visit Maximillian who is studying at the University of Dodoma in his final year of business and finance degree . It is an amazing university environment on the hills overlooking the city and even has a large swimming pool where students can gather and socialize. Max says he’s  made friends there and enjoys university life. A tall lovely fellow,  he showed us the expansive campus, largest  in Tanzania he thought. He is aware of the difficulty finding a job so expects to start business in cultivation as he looks for work.

  On that same day,which seemed to run on endlessly, I headed out in the back of a van with accompanying friend, Joseph, literally sitting in the rear compartment facing out the back window, watching the red clay road recede.   A 40 km ride south east of Dodoma to Happiness. That’s Happiness who is studying to be a Clinical Medical Officer at  remote Mvumbi Hospital-college in the Gogo tribal region.  New terrain, new accents, new Gogo greetings!
Happiness is doing very well and she and a friend gave me a very thorough tour of a very minimalist hospital, although larger than Kilema at some 200 beds.  The labour room team, including two male nurses, gave us a fabulous tour of various birthing stretchers and we visited a paediatric department with painted animals on the walls. There was a little girl with frontal kerosene burns, a typical paediatric case with tin lanterns used for light at night in many homes. Happiness is happy with the instruction by 6 physicians, two of whom are expat.
Mid tour, rains  arrived and perhaps the greatest adventure of the day was getting caught in a flash flood on the return to the Dodoma! Our little van passed over three bridges engulfed by water- a responsible safari driver  would have waited for floodwaters to recede- but our minivan pushed on and when attempting to pass a truck got stuck in  the mud of rising waters.  We could see the water roiling over open corn fields, pouring onto the road and gouging ditches further.  Sometimes there is no other place you would rather be than where you are.  It is a challenge to fate to see how the day will unfold. Branches and rocks under the tires, a chain off a pair of oxen ploughing a  nearby field  and another minivan and we were successfully pulled out. No twilight walk to Dodoma or search for overnight shelter was required, alas.  I can say that Joseph was happy to get his muzungu home safe and sound, though!

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