Monday, May 29, 2006

First Official Update

We finally made it up to the school on Saturday. It took us awhile to make it up the hill. Normally, in dry weather the walk takes about 30 minutes unforutnately it has been extremely rainy so the road was very bad. Some of the ruts were as deep as I am tall. To add to the road conditions many of our paths to the school are now entirely covered in corn. It seems that with all the rain came many many fields of corn. It made the journey interesting to say the least.

The school looks great! The glass has been installed in the windows so the first building is now secure. It was exciting to see that furniture had been moved in doors and that classes had begun in the small classroom available. After looking around for a few minutes it was very clear that much more space was needed. There are so many students just waiting to start school at St. Dympha.

In the afternoon we went around the area to meet our neighbors. The school is being built on Masai land therefore the majority of our neighbors are Masai. The first people we met were incredibly kind and enjoyed making fun of our lack of Swahili. They took us inside there traditional home (a round house made with mud, sticks, and straw). Initally they told us that if we wanted to take pictures we would have to give them money however after spending some time with them they decided that as long as I printed the pictures for them as well, we could take as many pictures as we wanted. The man of the house was not home but his two wives were there sitting together, each with their own baby. It was incredible to see how well they got a long and worked together. While it is easy to criticize polygamy, it is common among the Masai people and with the more wives you have the higher status in the Masai community.

After our visit with our neighbors we returned to the school to meet with our Engineer. He is incredible. Since we last met with him he has done a lot of work on the building design and structure. He also reduced his original cost telling us that he had decided not to accept pay for his work. We spoke with him about what we could do with the money that we have raised so far. Finally it was decided that starting next week we will beginning digging the foundation and placing the concrete columns that will be the skeleton of the school. It was very exciting to make some progress and begin to realize our dreams of building the school.

So, that is all for now. All is well here. I did manage to obtain an upper respiratory infection, but it seems to be dissapating. Our next big mission is to set up a bank account here that we can access from home.

I wish you all well and thank you for your continued support!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Internet in Arusha

We made it! After 24 hours of traveling, we (Bryan and I) arrived in Arusha. It was a very long but fortunately a very uneventful journey. We made it with all of our luggage in tact.

The past two days have been spent trying to adjust to the time change and finding a place to stay. I decided that I wanted to live in a village rather than in Arusha town, so we had to find a house that we could stay in. Fortunately, Mary's family has a house in the Meru region. It's a beautiful area surrounded by banana trees with a great view of Mt. Meru out the front door. The house is quite modern with occasionally running water and electricity. Fortunately the drought has ended so there is plenty of water in the area now we just have to figure out how to get it into our water tank so that it will run into the pipes. The end of the drought also means that electricity should become more available. During the drought there was a huge energy shortage as much of the areas power is harvested through hydroelectric dams. So, hopefully we won't have many problems with that.

With our living arrangements taken care of, we ventured into arusha today. The trip consisted of a thirty minute dala dala ride. A dala dala is a old rusted out VW bus that has been stripped of everything except a few bench seats. If I had to guess there were at least 30 people crammed into a vehicle that only has seats for 16. It's a crazy experience and super uncomfortable, but an adventure nonetheless. It's the cheapest form of transportation as it costs less than thirty cents to go 20km.

And now, I sit in the Patisserre on my computer using wireless internet. It seems that internet service in Arusha has improved greatly and I cannot put into words how excited I am about that. It will greatly increase my ability to communciate home and will reduce the stress that used to be caused by only getting to send two emails in an hour.

Tomorrow we will journey to Olesevia to visit the school site for the first time. I will be sure to take pictures and post them here as soon as possible. I look forward to seeing the progress made since Kari and I left in January.

So until next time, I hope this finds you all well.

I am safe, healthy, and incredibly happy.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Karibu! Welcome!

Hello Everyone!

Kari and I decided that using the blogger site would be the easiest way to keep in touch and stay up to date on what I will be doing when I'm in Tanzania. On this site I will post as frequently as possible, what exactly I am doing while overseas. The site also provides the opportunity to everyone who visits to post comments about what I've written.

I will try to respond to comments as much as I can. I look forward to hearing from all of you. Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have.

To make comments click on the comment link below the post. You will be able to see where you can type in comments. If you want me to know who is posting the message click the bubble that says other and type in your name. Or you can remain annonymous if you so choose. (I do however have the right to edit any posts that are inappropriate for public consumption).

After typing that in I ask that you type in the word verification listed. This prevents the site from being spammed.

And then publish your comment.

If you have any trouble you can email me at and I will do my best to help you out.

I look forward to sharing my travels with you and all the building updates.

Thank you once again for your interest and support.