I have been living in the village of Ayamango for two weeks now! All the volunteers and teaching partners have been dispersed into six different villages of a ward, called “Gallapo.” My village is called ayamango and is home to about 3,000 people. Ayamango is consist of three sub-village: ayamango, nangyi, and, nangra.
I am sorry for not checking the blog for the last few weeks. The village I stayed in has neither electricity nor running water, not to mention Internet. Nevertheless, I have integrated into this new environment; these past two weeks has been an amazing new experience.
My host family is a tiny one with only 3.5 people: two mothers+one brother+one cute baby! There is the grandmother called Mama Tade in her 50s now. Her husband just passed away before we came. His grave is sitting right outside of our house. There is Mama Clara, with her newborn baby “Clara.” Mama Clara was born and raised in a nearby village. She came to this house for her husband “Tade,” which is Mama Tade’s first born. Then we have the brother, “Emma,” who just graduated from a two-years teachers’ college and is waiting for the mission for his job to come from the government.
(My Lovely Family. From the left: Mama Clara, Bayo, Clara, Emma, Angelo, Edmoni. Edmoni is the family’s younger brother. He is still in high school now; he sometimes comes back during vacation to come back)
(From the left: Mama Tade, Angelo, Clara, Emma, Edmoni)
(Emma & Clara. She is the treasure for the entire family)
(Isn’t she the cutest baby ever?! Of course, I am extremely biased.)
I still remembered the first day when we arrived. I was wondering about the food we would be having. Then we had the wonderful lunch with this thing called “chips maya.” They cook it with a bunch of very thick fries and eggs. We usually have it with chili sauce. It is honestly my favorite food. At night, we have ugali, chainiz, and beans. I had a funny incident with this food called chainiz, a kind of cooked spinach. In Swahili, “chainiz” pronounces like “Chinese” in English. When the brother brought out the food, he kept pointing that food and said “chainiz.” I was thinking to myself, “wow, did they just make Chinese food for me. They have such a diverse diet.” Honestly, it tasted a little “Chinese.” So I kept nodding and trying to tell the mama that it was good Chinese food. I did learn afterward that it was actually imported from China.
(A Panorama of my house)
By the way, “mama” means “mother” in Swahili. In the village, people usually call a mother, “mama xxx”, such as Mama Tade. The use of this word resembles to the way we use titles in English, such as “Mrs.” One thing different here in the use of “mama” is that the xxx is the name of the first-born. After she got her first baby, the whole family, plus the entire village, started to call her “Mama Clara,” instead of her own name. In a way, the society re-defines the role of any woman after she had her first baby. When I first knew about this system, I found it similar to American culture or Chinese culture. After a woman got married, in both American and Chinese culture, the traditional way would be to change the woman’s surname.
(Funny thing is that I didn’t know this tradition when I first came to house. For a long time, I thought “tade” is the name of the mama and she named her kid with her name.:)
Fun facts aside, we have been making great progress in our works. In the village, I work with five other people, including 2 tanzanian teaching partners. The other four live in two other homestays. Everyday in the morning we would meet in one homestay and go teaching. In the village, we are in charge of our own teaching schedule. During the orientation, SIC gave some guidance on what group to teach. But we had to make everything out of scratch.
(Other host family’s house)
However, we did encounter some problems in our work. For one thing, we had big problems with contacting people. We tried to set up a peer educator club in the secondary school (middle school) here. For various reasons, we asked the students to meet with us during the break in the third meeting. But at the end, only one student showed up. Because of the lack of electricity as well as the way to communicate, we had no other means to communicate with other students. Or a lot of our set-up meetings would be cancelled because of maybe an unexpected funeral or sometimes no reason. But all these turned out to be great learning experience. I learned to just roll with what we can have and try to create the best out of it.
Anyway, we are having an amazing experience here in the village. Although I feel like I already passed the most “cultural shock moment,” I am still making new discoveries everyday!