This past weekend I left behind my short village life in Ludilo. I had to say an incredibly hard goodbye to two remarkable humans who had allowed me to disrupt their peaceful life in Ludilo and become part of their family. There are not enough thank you’s in the world for mama Ludija, Baba Calo and their children. To show my constant appreciation I tried to help around the house to the best of my ability, as well as gave them meaningful gifts on my last day in Ludilo. I will never forget the look on mama’s face when I handed her many of my dresses and skirts and I hope Baba Calo wears my Wofford College with pride that I was his daughter for a month and hopefully, I will be a part of their family forever.
The experience in the village is often hard to put into words. Most of the time, I did the same thing every single day (literally). However, that’s what made it so different from the past 20 years of my life, and especially the past three years of college. I am the girl who always on the go— taking more classes than my mental capacity can handle, writing essays, on the way to a meeting, driving to work or to see my parents, visiting family, spending time with friends, and anything else that describes the hustle and bustle of my life. However, in Ludilo village, everyone takes their time; walking to the farm can take hours but they don’t mind. People often stop to say hello to someone and if a conversation goes on for hours, it’s okay because they’re never in rush. To be honest, in Tanzania no one is ever in a rush! Most of the time when I walked into the village, I would pass the five other people who had been walking in front of me. Not to mention I get very impatient when I get stuck behind someone and can’t walk around them—I’ve had to work on that impatience this entire trip.
On Saturday, we had “Community Day” in which all the families, research assistants, and village leaders were invited for speeches, thank yous, and presentations. Part of my experience in the village included implementing a research project that I designed called “Exploring Tanzanian Perceptions on Adolescent Mothers in School and Understanding the Cultural Underpinnings of These Views.” I learned so much through my surveys and interviews of Tanzania, not just about their views on teen pregnancy and their community but also about how they are understanding and patient people willing to learn more about the world around them, and willing to continuously educate themselves about how to create positive change. Although I presented preliminary results to everyone on Community Day, I am still working on the final results of this project and will have more to share about it soon (aka after finals!). After presentations, we held a soccer tournament where the winning team won a goat. I spent most of my time however face and arm painting with the kids. After an activity-filled afternoon, we said our final goodbyes to our families, returned to RDO for the night, then drove back to Iringa Sunday morning.
No Turkey in Tanzania
When we returned on Sunday, many of us spent the rest of our afternoon grocery shopping for our Thanksgiving dinner! Most of us had never spent a Thanksgiving away from family and Justin was kind enough to let us cook at his house and spend Thanksgiving together. It was an exhausting but meaningful afternoon. I proudly decorated the table to make it festive and look aesthetically pleasing (as my own mother would) and everyone present cooked one or a few Thanksgiving dishes. All in all our spread was complete with fruit salad and chicken (no turkey in Tanzania) thanks to Justin and Susan, mac n’ cheese, chicken rice and cheezy rice courtesy of my dad’s package from last month, green beans and rolls by Cat, apple crumble and cookies by Ellie and Erin, au gratin potatoes and broccoli casserole by Caroline, and quesadillas by Josh (not a regular festive food but he really wanted to cook them). As we went around the table and said what we were thankful for from this semester, I, of course, could not hold in the tears and sobbed uncontrollably as we could all hear the end of the semester nearing throughout everyone’s speeches. As much as I loved my time in Tanzania, I truly miss my immediate family. However, I am extremely grateful for all the new family members I’ve gained throughout this trip.
Only a few more blogs left…Tutaonana, Vera