When Plamen (a colleague of mine at Cisco) called me last October wondering if his friend Tanja might be able to spend a month working as a volunteer at the Kileva Eastfield School in Mwakoma, it was the beginning of what turned out to be an unforgettable experience for Tanja, the people of Mwakoma, and most importantly for the pupils of Kileva Eastfield.
Although I subsequently explained to Tanja that the school is somewhat remote with no running water or electricity, far from putting Tanja off she became even more interested in going there to live and work with the people at the school and in the local community. I therefore asked Margaret to be her buddy during her stay, and Tanja eventually flew out there on 22nd January, and stayed until 18th February.
Below is a report from Margaret about how they got on.
When Tanja Came To Stay
By Margaret Kiriro
When Tanya came she called me and told me she was at Annedore’s place, and because I was at my grandfather’s place (at a funeral) I promised to meet her at evening.
When I reached school, I was accompanied by Mr George and Madam Agnes when going to meet her.
We finally met her and Annedore, we had a drink, talked for long and thereafter went back to school at around 6:30.
The next day
The following day Tanya came to school in the morning and i introduced her to the rest of the staff and took her class to class and round the school compound to show her school buildings.
After that we assembled the whole school and the pupils welcomed her with songs and dances, thereafter went back to classes as Tanya went to different classes with her note book and a pen to learn also.
It was nice and encouraging for both of us to see such a friendly, loving, caring and socialised Bulgarian lady who came and adapted with our local and ordinary way of living.
Buying, preparing and eating local food
Tanya stayed with me in school for all those days. She ate our local food, ie ugali with kales, pan cakes with peas, rice with beans and so many other types of food without having any stomach problems. I even taught her how to prepare some foods e.g. cooking ugali (mixture of maize flour and water), cooking vegetables, rice, tea etc.
Staying at school
During school days we used to wake up very early with her, prepare ourselves for work and go to school.
She learnt how we conduct our lessons (as she was sitting in class as our pupils, i.e. she was one of our pupils in class) and learnt how a teacher can prepare schemes, lesson plans and notes for teaching.
Sometimes she wrote notes on the board using chalks, which she said was different compared to how people learn in western. She did if perfectly for me so I am very sure one day she will make a very good teacher.
Tanya was very friendly to all children. She played with them during break time and children really enjoyed staying with her. missing her so much.
She bought a lot of things for the kids because she said she was being encouraged by how our children behave, how they are and how respectful our children are, compared to the few things they have to share. She was feeling so sorry for them. She decided to buy them football, school ties, sanitary towels for girls, fruits, sweets, and she gave individual assistance to orphans ,issuing t shirts and other many things. She really left a mark to Mwakoma people.
Visit to Marie
One weekend we went to our home at Marie. We stayed 2 days. She met my grandparents and there she ate a traditional meal called kimanga (mixture of cassava and peas, then smashed) taken with black tea. She enjoyed the place including seeing the hills and vegetation. I took her to Marie which is at the top of the mountain and had an aerial view of the lower places e.g. Mwambiti and Kajire.
Learning local skills
Apart from going to Marie she had a trip to Kajire and Gideon Mosi where she met men and women from different groups where she so a lot of handcrafting.
She learnt skills also, apart from that she enjoyed the big hill called Goe and its surroundings. She bought a few baskets from the groups.
Since Tanya came we visited different places such as water catchment areas, and showed her places within the community. Only that she run out of time I could have taken her round Sagalla.
During her last weekend we went to Mombasa and went to Nyali beach where she saw the Indian ocean.
The following day she booked for a hotel where she was to sleep and go to the airport for her flight. the last eve in Mombasa I took her to fort Jesus. I left her in the new palm hotel at Nkruma Road at around 6.30. On the following day we communicated at around 4 as she was at the airport waiting for her flight.
A great friend
Tanya has been a great friend to me and everybody who was around us. She was kind and could help with what she had without hesitating. Her mind was in children and she really liked and wished to help them with the little she had. I really appreciate her concern.
May The Almighty God bless her so much. She is still welcome to come and live with us again!