Monday, 22 October 2012

progress and corruption

I’ve done that thing again where I forget most of what I’ve done over the past week, so I’m sorry if this is a little brief. I really should start writing things down.
The Sunday a week after I was diagnosed with Malaria, I had started to feel really well again. I decided to go and play some football with another volunteer called Aaron. Aaron is from Seattle, and is here with his wife Emily for six months. He’s a big fan of football, and a decent centre back too. We turned up to Soweto, the pitch about fifteen minutes away from where we live, at around 11am. We introduced ourselves to the guys who were already knocking a ball around, and asked if there was a chance that we could get a game. They were happy to have us and after fifteen minutes or so we’d kicked off. I won’t say much about the game because I played pretty shit, and missed three absolute sitters. Oh well.
The following week was going to be a big one in regards to the progress of Mama Mary’s new house. On Monday, I paid out 972,000tsh, which is about four hundred pounds. This paid for the last lorry load of soil, twelve iron bars, twenty pieces of lenter wood, ten grams of nails, twenty bags of cement, and one 6mm iron bar. This was so that by the end of the week, everything would be ready to start the roof. The plan was to have the walls finished by mid-week, then to install iron rods on top of the walls, which are then covered with cement. This is to secure the walls, and to ensure that the roof will be stable.
Come Thursday, the progress they had made was astonishing! The walls were so high I couldn’t believe it. It looked like a million dollar mansion compared to the house that they live in now! They had fitted the iron rods, and were just adding some extra layers of bricks on top. Mama Mary as usual was extremely happy. She’s always inviting me in the house, but most of the time I have to tell her that I needed at the school too (which I am). I usually go and visit them on the weekends, it’s a lot easier and means that I get to spend a bit more time with them. That afternoon, I was invited around to a friend’s house. Jenifer, a Tanzania girl, works at Empire, which is the bar that I go to most nights. I know her from last year, and we stayed in contact whilst I was away. She’s really nice, very pretty, and also very funny. Her facial expressions are great.  A lot of Tanzania people (especially women) make noises to express how they are feeling, clicks of their tongues or just strange sounds. I haven’t met any who do it as much as Jenifer, and it really makes me laugh. She cooked me Chaga food for lunch. Chaga is a tribe from just outside of Arusha, and Jenifer’s mother is part of this tribe. Jenifer left the tribe to ‘get a real life’. Chaga food is made with green bananas, beef, and vegetables and is served as a stew. It was actually really, really nice. One of the best Tanzania meals I’ve ever had. After lunch, we chatted a bit. I had to explain to her how there were lots of black people in England, but that there weren’t any tribes. She found it hard to get her head around that one! Then one of her elder brothers came around. I’ve forgotten his name, but he seemed like a pretty nice guy. He pulled out a couple of smalls bags from his rucksack and emptied the contents on to the floor. I was amazed when I saw what was inside them. Inside were lots of different minerals found in Tanzania. He had Tanzanite, Emeralds, and a few others which I’ve forgotten the name of. I wanted to buy some of the emerald off of him, but he told me that for a really small piece, it was about 100,000tsh, that’s about forty quid! I wasn’t prepared to pay that much. He must be doing alright for himself though!
On Friday, I had to pay out some more money towards the house. This was to pay for all of the materials needed to complete the roof. I paid out around another four hundred pounds. I was late in getting the money to the builder that day, as I had a nightmare finding an ATM in the city which was working. Eventually I had to call one of my taxi drivers to come and find me, and take me across the other side of the city to the big Barclays bank. Getting the money to Kiara late, meant that no work was done that day, and they would start on the roof on Sunday. I wasn’t too bothered to be honest as I wasn’t sure if I was going away that weekend or not. A couple of people in the house had planned to go to Pangani, a beach resort about eight hours east of Arusha. I decided not to in the end, as I had quite a few things to sort out! That evening, Jennica, Grace and I decided to go and eat out. We went to Maasai café, which is the best place to get a pizza in Arusha. It was nice for us to go out together. Things between me and Grace haven’t been so good over the past two weeks, because of an argument over a chicken. We have a chicken that roams around the garden and even sometimes comes in the house, which does nothing useful, and just shits everywhere. I proposed that we chop it’s head off and give the meat to somebody who needs it, or even take it to the chicken coup at Golgotha. Grace wasn’t happy about it as she’s become attached to the chicken. She was crying about it, which I thought was pathetic, and I said a couple of things which were a bit out of order. Heat of the moment sort of thing. But since then I’ve apologised over the matter, and decided to leave the chicken alone. It still annoys me, but I’d rather be friends with Grace. It took ages for our Pizza’s to come, and as per usual in Tanzania the service was shit. I tried not to get annoyed and waited as patiently as I could for the food. It was worth the wait, the pizza was amazing, but I ate it too quickly. When we went to Empire afterwards, after a couple of beers my indigestion was so bad that I just wanted to go home. They were both cool with it, so we went and chilled back at the house.
On Saturday I had a few things to sort out. I had to look into flying to Uganda for the following weekend, where I was planning on going Gorilla trekking with a couple of house mates. Flights weren’t too bad, but yesterday I found out that the overall cost for the trek was way too much and exceeded my budget, so I backed out. I’m still going to go and do some white water rafting though which will be pretty exciting! I visited Mama Mary on Saturday afternoon, and went down with Jennica and Harriet. Harriet is from the UK, and has just finishing studying an engineering degree at Bristol Uni. She’s absolutely lovely, and we get along well. One of her close friends is a sister of Lucy Cottee. I’m sure I’ve mentioned Lucy before, she has a lot to do with Golgotha and is one of the people who set up the sponsorship program for the UK. It’s nice to have a friend of a friend in the house! The visit was lovely as usual, we sat around for an hour or so, taking pictures, and playing with the kids. The children love taking pictures with the cameras, I have to remind them to be really careful each time though, as some of them are pretty expensive! We got some lovely pictures, and one really great one of me and Mama Mary sitting on her almost complete new doorstep! I decided that I would buy Mama Mary some food for the week so we went along to the shop together. Harriet was getting touched up by some guy clearly high on glue, so I stood up to him and told him to do one. It didn’t do much good, but when Mama Mary stepped in and shouted at him, he cleared off pretty quick. It was pretty funny. I bought them 5kg’s of rice, 5kg’s of flour and a few kilo’s of beans, which should keep them going for a week or so. Jenny chipped in 10,000tsh which was nice of her! Soon after that we headed home, I was pretty tired when we got back, but when Grace invited me and Jen to a nearby bar to meet her new Maasai friend, I felt like I could do with a beer or two. Meeting her friend was nice. His name is Nick, and I think he’s in his late twenties. He’s a miner, and deals with Tanzanite and Emerald stones, just like Jenifer’s brother. We chatted for a while, and then me and Jen decided to go home. We left Grace and Nick together! They were already pretty comfortable together, and it made me happy to see Grace happy around him!
I didn’t get much sleep that night thanks to Jen who couldn’t sleep, and decided not to let me sleep either, so when it came to playing football the morning afterwards, I was completely knackered. I played worse than the week before, and by the time we were 6-1 down, I subbed myself off and decided to go home. A lot of people from the house were away on trips this weekend, Matt is climbing Kilimanjaro, a few others were on Safari, some were doing Kilimanjaro base climb, and Kristin and Lindsay had gone to Pangani. This meant that it was nice and quiet, and really easy to just relax. Aaron and Emily came over, I sat and chatted with them for a bit before I needed to have a nap. When I woke up it had started to get dark, Aaron and Emily were just leaving, and Grace had already left to go and meet Nick again.
Today I couldn’t get up until late, so I texted one of the teachers at school to say I had a lot of things to do and that I would be in later that morning. I got to school at about eleven. One of the first things I noticed was that there weren’t many kids there. I asked Samson, who was teaching the elder class, where all of the kids were. He told me that they had all been sent home because of not being able to pay school fees, which include travel on the school bus, and money towards firewood for the school. I asked him if kids who were sponsored had been sent home to, and he said yes. I was a bit confused, because the children who are sponsored, aren’t supposed to have to pay anything towards the school at all. He was clearly concerned about what was going on, as have the teachers and volunteers for the past few months. The problem has arisen that a lot of the sponsorship money isn’t getting to the children, and isn’t being accounted for. Samson kindly gave me a list of exactly which children are sponsored and were sent home in the morning. I then asked Vicki, the co-director and part of the management team at the school to write me a list of exactly who was sent home in the morning. Conveniently, none of the sponsored children who had been sent home were on the list. I asked her where they were, and was told that they were sick. I then asked that why when I ask my class where Ramla is (who is sponsored), they tell me that she’s gone home because she can’t pay fees. They came up with another excuse. Something along the lines of the children just assuming that they couldn’t pay fees because others had been sent home for that exact reason. I am an honest person, and I hate it when I’m lied to. It really pissed me off. I spoke to Lucy and Cassie about it, and told them that I would follow it up tomorrow. I’m planning on getting all of the twelve or fifteen odd kids who were apparently sick today in the office, and asking them in front of management whether they were sick, or sent home because of school fees. If they say school fees, then I’m pretty sure that all sponsorship money from abroad will come to an end. It’s obviously not what any of us want. But we sure as hell don’t want the money going into our directors and his wives pockets either! 

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