Monday, December 5, 2011

Dividing The Time By The Spoon

Since my comeback to Kiabakari at the beginning of October, I have this prevailing feeling that the time has become densely congested, packed with numerous activities and challenges, all thrown at us at once. It feels like if the time has become a jelly which is so thick that one can divide it by the spoon...

The period of adjustment of our volunteers from Germany and Poland was a bit stressful to them, and I felt truly sorry for them, but it was inevitable as everyone has to go through this period of switching to the Tanzanian and African reality at large. I was very glad and grateful to God that nothing serious happened health wise, no sudden unexpected allergies, sicknesses or or other troubles of all sorts. And apart from Denise's malaria which was quite bad but not THAT bad to get us all scared, and apart from Agata's infection which cause high fever and general loss of appetite, strength and morale, the transit from European conditions to ours in Kiabakari went pretty smooth. I must admit that I am very proud of our volunteers, as they turned out to be brave young people, willing to get into full swing into their responsibilities and programs, very professional and totally committed to their work, not complaining and willing to withstand any hardships that may occur which are beyond us.

So, after this initial first month which saw them getting into work up to their elbows, so to speak, the time has become more and more congested with new matters arising. The first month, October, saw Denise and Thomas getting to know the pre-school, staff and students better and better and merging with the school life more and more. In October as well, Agata with health center staff worked on first medical checkup of children from our schools and from the village, 200 altogether, collecting data, doing statistics,  meeting parents, conscientizing them about health hazards and what was needed to make sure their children enjoy perfect health. It appeared from the data collected, that 40% of checked children were sick. Pretty gruesome data which challenge us all and our benefactors to do more for the better life in health of the least privileged...

In November, it was time to get sick. First Denise (we call her Nisi after Tom's way of addressing her) got  malaria, then myself malaria and ameba, then Agata her infection. Luckily, we all recovered well and continue to work 'kama kawaida' (as normal). Only Thomas was spared from sickness, and enjoys good health so far, and I hope it stays for him like that till the end!

In spite of these troubles and pouring rains in this not-so-small rainy season (despite being called so, contrary to the big or long rainy season in March-June) which hindered some actions, we were able to finish the second classroom for standard two students, build foundations and set and connect water tanks for the health center to make sure they don't lack water over there, I put one more water tank of 3,000 liters capacity in the mission courtyard for rain water collection (still lacking one water tank of the same capacity to collect water from the kitchen and St. Martha guest house roofs). It was the time also to build a new bathroom in one of guest rooms in the mission, to allow for more privacy of my guests and volunteers, as the sharing of the same bathroom was not a thing to desire, taking under consideration age and gender of my guests.

On November 18, we had a lavish graduation celebration for our pre-school leavers, it took seven hours altogether and I took a video of it and some pictures. It was another opportunity for our Foundation Kiabakari to support our school as we contributed towards the expenses of food and prepared nice certificates for graduants.

Guest of Honor presents leaving certificates
to gradients of our pre-school

Denise and Thomas in the thick of action during graduation

Foundation Kiabakari supports our schools

On November 25, we had a special Mass of installation of the Holy Relics of Blood of Blessed John Paul II in Divine Mercy Shrine in Kiabakari (donated by His Eminence Stanisław Cardinal Dziwisz), presided over by Rev. Father Tadeusz Dziedzic, along with my colleague-missionary and friend Rev. Father Marek Gizicki and Rev. Sr. Bożena Najbar who works with Father Tadeusz, the Director of the Missions Department of Archdiocese of Kraków, Poland. After this emotional celebration we proceeded to the school premises where Father Tadeusz blessed the new classroom for the standard two students and blessed also school books for each student in standard one and standard two classes (purchased due to the generosity of sponsors of our educational adoption project run by Foundation Kiabakari). Children from the pre-school and standard one performed then beautifully for our guests, then we all shared a brunch with them.

Fr. Tadeusz and Fr. Marek during the Holy Mass

The Holy Relics of Blessed John Paul II in Divine Mercy Shrine

Rev. Sr. Bożena during the opening of the second classroom

Children ready for the opening

Fr. Tadeusz and Sr. Grace (on behalf of the absent headmistress)
cut the ribbon at the door to the new classroom

Standard two students taking their seats in the new classroom
and enjoying their new school books

Fr. Tadeusz blesses the children and their new school books

Blessing of children and school books in standard one classroom

Happy standard one students with their new books

Pre-school children performing traditional dance for the guests

Agata with children proud to display their work
done during pro-health workshops at pre and primary school

Agata explaining the children works to their parents

Children enjoying their brunch

The brunch with our guests

Our guests visiting the health center in the mission

Sr. Bożena donated some medical supplies for the health center, we walked them through the whole institution. Later we had lunch together at home. Then they left for Shirati and continued with their scheduled itinerary till they left for Arusha on the following Wednesday, having spent the last night in Mara Region in my place.

Guests expedited on their way, time to get back down to work. Denise and Thomas working in the summer school with children (the summer holidays begun on November 26), Agata spent a lot of time preparing various educational aids for the students, continuing with the scheduled workshops and pro-health talks with children.

Bad germ removed by washing hands

A student in our pre-school during pro-health workshop

Children coloring the germs

Visual methods - showing the difference
between safe and contaminated water

Each child was given a germ as a souvenir to remember to fight them
with healthy practices of washing hands and drinking boiled safe water

During the pro-health workshop

An army of germs ready to be distributed to children
as a visual aid in pro-health workshop

Agata preparing visual aid for the workshops

Preparing the displays of children works before the opening
of the new classroom - to be shown to the parents

Now it's December. The third phase of 'Afya Bora' (Perfect Health) project has begun. Agata is at the health center again supervising the second medical checkup of the same 20 children strong group to see if there is any improvement in their health conditions after the series of workshops and pro-health talks. Hopefully, this phase will end in the next week, and she will be be able to wrap up the project and send a full report to the foundation and further on to the Polish Foreign Ministry which sponsored the project.

Myself, after finishing the construction of second classroom and a trip to Dar to purchase the school books, having bid farewell to our guests, I was busy with collaborating with members of our foundation, getting ready our development project for the next year and some small grants' scheme projects for the benefit our health center.

Now, the project has been sent to Warsaw, the small ones are in the final stages, ready to be sent to Polish Embassy in Nairobi next week. Time for series of parochial meetings, reports, budgets, planning for the next year. First religious vows tomorrow for novices of Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa diocesan congregation in Musoma (I will attend), the final vows in the same congregation this Thursday, graduation day in Makoko Language School with Polish SMA missionaries - Fathers Marek and Przemek (will attend too). For this weekend, long weekend because of the national celebration of 50 Years of Independence of continental Tanzania, we expect nice guests in Kiabakari. Agnieszka withe her son Max from Mwanza, and Monica and Jola, Polish SMA lay missionaries, from Bugisi Mission in Shinyanga Diocese (we have visited them in November). I guess, time to get pierogi, krokiety and gołąbki ready for all of us.

But before that, once I am done with this post, I will go hunting for some Santa Claus gifts for my volunteers and house servants. Nothing to choose from to be honest in Musoma, but still, if I lay hands on something nice and sweet, I will take it.

The time gets thicker and thicker. Dividing it by spoonfuls to cater for all responsibilities, duties, works, projects and challenges has never been tougher than this...

Happy Santa Claus tomorrow (especially in Poland)! And a blessed Advent to us all!

1 comment:

  1. What a fascinating blog, Wojciech - I couldn't stop reading it . Congratulations on all that has been achieving amidst plenty of sweat and hard labour. Great to know you are all well again and that the volunteers are feeling a sense of being at home. I loved the photos - superb - those beautiful students in their splendid new classroom with desks and books. How we take all this for granted here - I have become much more grateful for all I have since hearing so much about what little things mean to poor people and children. The visit from Mission Dept. in Krakow seems to be a wonderful event .I am just so happy for you that all has gone so well. Pity you are so far away or I could put something in your Christmas stocking from Santa but at least know that it is full of heartfelt good wishes and lots of prayers and much love from the Daly clan .Love lenaxxx