We have now been at TWIGA for one week, and are finding our feet. Our day from Monday to Saturday begins with breakfast at 07:30 in the main house. The compound houses 3 bandas which sleep 2 people each, an office building that also contins 2 living quaters for the permenant co-ordinators, the guards' sleeping quaters, a small football area, a library, the main house, tool shed for tools and bike storage, solar powered water tower, outdoor eating area and fire, childeren's banda and playgound.
Breakfast may consist of the previous evenings left overs, but usually there is bread and (sweet) condiments and fruit with tea and instant coffee. The Mamas arrive about this time. They are local women who take care of lunch and dinner (hot meals) and the cleaning and washing of clothes (although we wash our own underwear and socks). There is the lively meeting and greeting between the Mamas and volunteers in English and Swahili. About 08:00, the nursery children arrive. If you are on toy duty, you need to have placed some toys for them out on the veranda, including things for their "shop".
The day is filled as is needed. E & C teach English to the guards. They are Masai and live on the compound semi-permenantly. The guards are split between day and night watches. Their English is of varying levels. We use course books in the library, but mainly make things up during the lessons.
We are also translating many of the official TWIGA documents from Dutch to English (C) and from crooked English to perfect English (E). Additionally E is giving guitar lessons to one of the staff, and assisting with laptop issues.
Lunch is a hot meal of maize or beans usually with rice or ugali, which needs pili-pili (hot chilli) sauce and salt to jazz it up. We sit with the Mamas in the sunshine.
After lunch it is more of the same, and there is the possibility also of undertaking handyman jobs as required.
The other volunteers are: Ger (tasks: various including decorating and teaching, from NL), Cornelius (tasks: handyman, from NL), An and Sharon (interns from BE -tasks: teaching the nursery kids maths and English) and Johannes (tasks: medical help - from DE). Sander is Dutch and is the project coordinator.
Later in the afternoon, we often take a walk 10 minutes from the compund through the woods where monkeys run and play, to the open savanah. Here we watch the wildebeest, zebra, gazelle and flamingo, pelican and stork through binoculers. Out in the vast open space of the savanah we narroughly avoided a shower of stork excremends. That's a close encounter of nature. It is stunning. Huge baobab trees are dotted around. Lake Manyara is in sight, but not reached by us yet since the mud on the savanah was too thick for our antique Chinese bikes. Apparently there are hippo's and elephants, so we'll make sure to go there one Sunday. There are so many brightly coloured birds.
Dinner is at 19:30 in the main house which has been prepared by the Mamas, after which we wash up. Bedtime is after 21:30. There is no electricity onsite, all power is solar generated, and the water is solar heated. We use portable solar lamps in the evenings to light the banda's. Showers are taken late afternoon, when the water has heated.
Saturday is different. This is an open day when kids have no school. It begins with a welcome meeting where we were formally introduced to all the staff and kids. There are round 40 kindergarten and older kids at the project, which makes it the busiest day of the week. The morning starts with an official opening of the week, which is also the time to welcome or say goodbye to volunteers. E gave computer lessons to the older kids last Saturday (writing their names in MsWord, and then an introduction to MsPaint), which they greatly enjoyed.
Early Saturday morning about 06:00, we took a walk out on the savanah with Massi (one of the guards) and Cornelis to the baobab trees and on to a Massai village where a baby gazelle is also in residence. It attached itself to one of the herds of goats owned by the village. We passed huge termite mounds, and many wild flowers that have popped up since the rains have come.
Sunday is a relaxing day. We cycled out onto the savanah, but there had been quite some rain the day before, and we soon became bogged down in the mud! Other pass times were reading and lazing, catching up on some swahili, and watching a DVD on a laptop.
The town of Mto is a 15 minute cycle ride away, but it should only be attempted in daylight, as the road is unpaved and full of dips and holes, and after dark it is not necessarily safe.
Internet and shops are available in town. So far we have not needed to go that often, only to change some money and purchase a Tanzanian SIM card. Our contact number is +255(0)687713920
Last night, after a game of night football with the guards, we went out in the bajaj for a meal at "Pizza Point" as 3 of the volunteers left today. The restaurant seemed to be closed, but we helped bring the tables out and before long the pizza oven was fired up, and a cold bottle of Kilimanjaro beer in our hands.
Back at the project we started up a campfire, where E accompanied the crackling fire sounds with swinging guitar play.
Today over lunch the Mamas covered C's toenails with a tapenade like mulch, which has died them orange - just a week late for Queen's day!
So after our first week, we are finding the pace of life most agreeable, the mosquitos bearable and the time most fulfilling.