This week I spent in the Kyomu Village Kahe East Ward in Majengo, about 45 minutes north of Moshi. I don't know the population of the area other than it is one of the most densely populated areas in Kilimanjaro. It was an interesting time, I was only the third mzungo (white person) to visit the village, and the first mzungo woman, or so I was told. First I met the thirty or so children, all under the age of five, who were in like a pre-school. They were learning their "ABCs" in Swahili and English. I was with Thadei Msumanje, the director of Tanzanian Rural Empowerment Organization (TAREO) and Machiwa, a young man from Moshi Institute of Technology.
The kids were amazing! Their smiles priceless, their thirst for love, attention, and learning unsatiable. They have to sit three to a desk because the classroom is too small but they didn't seem to mind. I couldn't help thinking that if this was a US classroom the kids would all be fighting and crying! Later I met the village leaders who I could tell dressed their best to meet me. They wanted me to tell them "something," which I had no idea what to say so I just started telling them about me, my family, what it is like in the USA, in Texas where I grew up, in Philadelphia, where I now live. I was uncomfortable sitting at a long table facing them so it didn't take me long to walk around and sit with them. They loved the photos on my iPhone, I had them all write down their names on a tablet I had so I would not forget their names.
One of the ladies, Nipaely, showed me how to make rope for baskets by rubbing the fiber on your leg and twisting it. It was kind of funny because I had to hike up my skirt to rub on my thigh and they all got a kick out of that! They then took me to stand and walked me over in a group and I knew they were up to something, and they gave me a basket that they made especially for me in appreciation of my visit. I was so touched and appreciative of their kindness.
Later we strolled through the village to the public school wher all the children were waiting for me as school was supposed to be dismissed but they wanted to meet me. They were all wearing their school uniforms and stood to attention and sang a greeting. After a while I asked Machiwa why the kids were still standing and he said it was because I didn't tell them they could sit! He said something in Swahili and they all sat down.
Working with Thadei Msumanje with Tanzanian Rural Empowerment Organization (TAREO) KiliTech is committed to helping the Kyomu Village acquire technology and create businesses and further education. We are building a maize mill to grind corn for the village to sell and we are looking into the possibility of building a coffee processing facility that will employ a dozen people as well as money into the village so they can build more schools and fund social services.