January 26, 2009

Kwa Mromboo

A new year, a new neighborhood, a new volunteer job, and no new ideas on what comes next! ;) Things are going great in my new place. I'm in a neighborhood of Arusha called Kwa Mromboo -try that as a tongue twister, living with my friend Esther. To tell you a little about the family- Esther is 18 and in secondary school- she told me her whole story yesterday and apparently she's one of the first girls from her whole village/region to make it to secondary school, barely escaping a couple attempts to marry her off. I try to help her study/speak English in the evenings, which is fun although sometimes tedious, and makes you think a lot about this whole education system. Since they're learning in a language in which they are not fluent, a lot of it is just memorization-are they really learning? We also live with Baba Rita, Esther's older brother, and his wife and 2 kids. Rita is 5 and an amazing singer/dancer. If she were in the U.S. I'd want to send her to music lessons, etc. But of course, she'll probably never have that kind of opportunity, though she can sing in church. Peter just had his 2nd birthday and is the cutest kid ever, though he still calls me Mzungu (white person) instead of Auntie. So I call him Mwafrika (African). Esther's younger sister Neema also moved in with us recently. They're all wonderful, and they want to please me, and they're giving me so much. And I am learning to be happy with the simple things, like rice and beans, and bucket showers, and just sitting, cooking, eating, laughing, singing, praying, crying together- isn't it crazy that despite how different cultures are, we all do these same things? Sometimes it gets monotonous, and I'm learning how much of a luxury space is- having a bigger space can really relax you. But it's good to experience inner silence even when you feel cramped on the outside, and it's good to live in community, even if I'm nervous about how I'm going to be independent on weekends/free time- there's no sense of going somewhere without saying "Karibu" and welcoming others to come along. There's so much I feel they can't understand about me, but maybe whoever "me" is is simpler than all the complicated introspective stories I'd tell about my past, my friends, my intellectual and emotional struggles. And so maybe without me trying to explain myself, they can see in me something more basic about who I am, and maybe I can learn that about myself as well. Actions speak louder...And it is just so simple, learning how we love and give to each other.