This week, we moved our efforts to Bluebell Primary School, where we started on the painting and decorating of two classrooms. For some of us, painting ceilings did not come naturally (the paint stains on Bella and my clothes will forever remind us of our failure) whilst others, notably Pip and Savannah, remained remarkably unscathed. It was an entertaining week -a lot less physically challenging than the kitchen construction- although jump starting a car a few hundred metres from the busy highway was a novel experience for many of us!
On our final day at Bluebell, we were given the opportunity to teach the children. Charlie, Sara and I began by testing their numeracy skills, and ended with a colourful rendition of ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ which may have been enjoyed more by us than by the children, who looked a little confused. We were then welcomed back into the first primary school, where we worked last week to build the kitchen. They held a great celebration for us, thanking us for our hard work and entreating us to visit their school again. Savannah then kindly volunteered to speak on behalf of us all, thanking them for their hospitality.
When Saturday rolled around, we decided to embark on a long hike near the Maasai village. Call it fate, but I was unfortunately bedridden on the proposed day, so I spent the day sleeping whilst the others trekked through dusty terrain to reach a Maasai village. They arrived home laden with corn which the local tribesmen had gifted them. Meanwhile, Valerio had fallen ill and I had failed to dissuade his conviction that he had malaria (he was rushed to hospital, where they confirmed it was just a stomach bug).
On Monday, for Gemma’s final week in Tanzania, we headed to Lake Manyara National Park. Whilst most of us are staying in permanent two-man tents, Charlie, Troy and Valerio managed to get themselves proper hotel rooms – without the threat of lizards or frogs appearing mid-shower. Yesterday, Jimmy drove Gemma and I us up to a unique vantage point with a far-reaching view of the national park (although even with Eve’s super powerful lens we couldn’t quite distinguish the flamingos and buffaloes in the water). We stayed to watch the sunrise, a truly beautiful experience -even when one of the locals threw himself over the fence and tumbled down a steep drop in an effort to avoid the police (he surfaced a few minutes later, unscathed.)
Whilst in Manyara, we’ve been helping out at the Amani Children’s Home, an orphanage and school in desperate need of assistance. Sarah kindly started a fundraising page to help provide these 45 children with a viable source of drinking water. Money is also needed to buy food for the kids, to balance out their carbohydrate-heavy diet. We’ve also been working to plant a vegetable garden which will provide a longer-term solution to these issues. I think we all felt hugely moved and touched by our experience at the orphanage, not only by the hardships we witnessed but also by the positivity, warmth and consistently high spirits of the children we encountered.
Tomorrow we embark on a bicycle tour of Lake Manyara, before our four-day Safari into the Tanzanian wilderness!