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April 12

This past week was somewhat lacklustre. It was more of a working week, in which a good amount of work was accomplished.

Tuesday was much like every Tuesday in that we went to the lab to cultivate fresh bacterial cultures for the coming week. Tuesday evening also marked the end of Brian’s anti-malarial treatment.

On Wednesday, our fourth "yogurt mama," Leah, came in for her first yogurt-training session. She observed, while Elizabeth tried her hand at yogurt making with Sabina teaching and supervising. Our system seems to be working out quite well, although it does result in a rather packed kitchen. Nonetheless, many hands make for light work. The women are doing fantastically well at teaching and implementing the yogurt-production process. We’ve been more than happily surprised. Later on in the afternoon, Brian went to get a blood test to ensure that his malaria was gone. Forty minutes later the good news was in: malarial parasite count = zero!

Thursday was a national holiday in remembrance of the late president of Zanzibar who passed away in 1972. The schools were closed, so we did not go to Buswelu. Instead, we used this day to get some work done. One of our major works-in-progress is a “Western Heads East Intern Survival Guide to Mwanza, Tanzania." The guide will include all kinds of information on what to bring, where to shop, where to eat, how to get around the city, things to see and do, essential Swahili, and much, much more. The hope is that this information will help ease and expedite the settling and transition of the next group of WHE interns.

Friday was a day for more yogurt making. That evening we went out for “nyama choma” (grilled meat) at a small local place called the “Florida Resort." We really like relaxing on the rooftop patio and enjoy a cold beverage and some food with friends. On this evening we were out with Jenny (our UK friend from the National Institute of Medical Research) and Yasini (our friend from Kivulini), and dined on an absolute mountain of goat and fried banana! The food was fantastic! In addition to the great food and company, there was some local entertainment on the small corner stage. First, a group of people in costume lip-synched to various popular tunes (both African and North American). Perhaps the best of these performances was by a fellow who did two songs by Michael Jackson. For anyone who knows our former co-worker Rajeev, they will understand when we say that this Michael Jackson impersonator had moves that even rivaled Rajeev's. We were quite impressed! After the lip-synching came the acrobats. They were like a three-man cirque du soleil. Also very impressive. All of this entertainment made for quite an exciting night.

Saturday was rather low-key. We mostly hung around the apartment and did work. Cynthia made pizza with homemade dough for lunch. Then she baked a banana cake. She is a baking machine (and Brian was not complaining in the least)!

Sunday was also low-key. We headed over to Jenny’s for lunch in her garden. We played with Tusker (Jenny’s puppy), read, squeezed in a bit of work, and some of us (ahem, Cynthia!) caught a nap. It was a hot, sunny day so we headed over to the pool for a swim. That evening we enjoyed dinner at Jenny’s and headed home for a good night’s sleep.

Yesterday (Monday), our fifth "yogurt mama," Shida, came in for her first day of yogurt training. Cynthia attended the Kivulini meeting, while Brian attempted to oversee the yogurt-making process. However, he just ended up getting in the way and knocked things over so he graciously made his exit from the kitchen. Again, everything went smoothly with one more person on her way to becoming a yogurt expert. The big surprise of the day came after the women had left and we were preparing lunch. We heard a familiar voice at the door, and in came Mama Joyce! She was well once again. Her malaria, and moreover her malaria medications, had done quite a number on her, landing her in the hospital for a brief stay. This was the first time we had seen her in over a week, so we were thrilled that she came by for a visit. We invited her to join us for lunch. We then asked her if Brian could go to her home to meet her many children and grandchildren, and perhaps do some arts and crafts with them. She said that they would love to have him over. Brian walked with Mama Joyce the short distance to Mabatini (mah-bah-tee-nee), and she introduced him to the many people she knew along the way. One person even jokingly asked if he was her boyfriend! They both laughed, as Mama Joyce is old enough to be Brian's mom (and then some)!!! They arrived at her house and Brian was overwhelmed with children. Mama Joyce’s house is full of children: children out the front, children out the back, children in their rooms, children in the living room. Children seemed to come out of the woodwork with the news of a visitor in the house. They were all really cute and ranged in ages from one to 16 years old. Brian took out his laptop computer to show them his photos of Africa. They were all very excited, especially by the photos of the animals in the Serengeti. He gave them the markers, pencil crayons and paper that he brought. They had a great time drawing pictures and conversing as best they could: the children in simple Swahili and English (the older children have quite a good grasp of English), and Brian in simple English and broken Swahili. They then invited Brian for dinner. He had a bit of “ugali” (oo-gah-lee -- thick porridge made from maize meal) and some fish. It was fantastic to see the children as they drank their probiotic yogurt from small plastic mugs. They all really liked the yogurt and many of the smaller ones ended up with a big white mustache around their mouths! Brian wished that he had brought his camera because it would have made such an amazing photograph. He left soon after dinner and told them that he would be back, next time with a camera. They all waved goodbye as Brian headed for home for dinner- number-two with Cynthia.

We’ll end this week's journal here. At the beginning of writing, we were expecting that this might be a short journal entry, as it was a quieter week. But as you can see, we are never short on words! As a bonus, we are putting together a second entry this week that includes our impressions of Mwanza and Tanzania. We hope that it is of interest to many of you. Thank you once again for your continued support. Until next week,

Cynthia & Brian

April 14, 2005 | Permalink


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