Friday, December 25, 2009

Home Again and Back

Today is Christmas and I find myself in Colorado and David is in Dar es Salaam.  A decision was made for me to fly back and acquire a new computer plus of course to visit family and friends.  It has been an unusual Christmas for me and for David.  We usually spend major holidays together but with one son in Japan and our oldest in Colorado it meant a world wide Christmas this year!  It is nice to be home and to see my church family and my son and his wife.  But it has created in me a different view of the world I came from to the world I really belong. So here are some thoughts just rambling around in my head...enjoy and please comment if you can.

December 24, 2009

Denver …Tanzania… Reflections
I went to the Christmas Eve Candle Light service tonight. The lights, the lighted tree, the candles, the carols, the pastor’s message all seemed to be perfectly fitting into that holy space on this the holiest of nights. But the images in my mind tonight were not of the wonderful snow, or the candles or the smiling faces I see around me. The images I see are of a place far from here. One that is full of poverty and desperation but at the same time full of hope and faith. The images I see are of Tanzania.
Everywhere I look tonight my mind shifts me back to a place where little is more, to have is to give, and to receive is a blessing. This is country where daily life is a struggle for all. Where water is obtained by carrying it on ones head not by turning on a faucet. Where traveling to work is by foot, by bike or local bus not by personal car. When it is time to do your laundry it is done by hand not by machines.  Reading at night is by candle or flashlight not by electricity.  Learning is done with a piece of chalk and board not by textbooks, pencils, crayons and paper.  Cooking is often done over a charcoal pot in the middle of a room rather than on a stove and food is bought daily rather than stored in a refrigerator.  Trash is burned  in a pit in your backyard rather than gathered up by garbage collectors.  Plastic bags are saved and washed instead of thrown away and coke comes in glass bottles rather than cans. Most roads are dirt and not maintained rather than paved with four to six lanes..traveling is only done by car when needed..not for a pleasure drive on Sundays.
The differences are so great from this wonderful country of plenty to Tanzania that is has created in me a sense of have and have not mentality. I seem at times to be a state of unequal balance trying hard to juggle the reality of Tanzania and reality of Colorado.
For example, my head spins when I enter a supermarket. Too overwhelmed by all the choices I often leave with little I came for. And when I do buy it is often the items I would select in the open air markets back in Tanzania.

Starved for western entertainment I have spent hours looking at movies to buy or rent. I have not done well in this area, usually only buying movies to share with others back in Dodoma.
Armed with a shopping list from Tanzania friends I walk among the isles of department stores my brain going into overload until I retreat to the safety of my car. My list is still very long!
The simple fact is that life for us here in the United States is not difficult for a large part of our population. But for the average citizen in Tanzania life is difficult and often not kind. Take Christmas, for most children in Tanzania it will not be one full of presents with decorations on a tree. It is a church event with carols and thanksgiving. Not one of endless presents and expectations of toys. There is little talk of Santa or Father Christmas. Christmas in Tanzania is simple and with family. It is all about the birth of Christ.
Another example is Tanzanians have little disposable income. Over 90% of the population live on less than two hundred dollars a year. And if they do make more it usually goes to their extended family to help out others who are in need. No one is expected to keep their money it goes for the good of the family. As a foreigner in Tanzania I must constantly keep in mind that I can spend more in a week than most people make in three months. I try to be careful about how I shop taking care not to buy too many items at one time. Theft is a problem in Tanzania.

One last example is the Church in Tanzania is not just a place to go on Sundays, but a place for the people to meet and greet, it ties the villages together and creates a place where social events happen through out the week. Being in touch with God is a way of life in Tanzania. Morning prayers and church bells ring out each and everyday at 6:00am and through out the day. Church members join choirs and spend hours every week practicing hymns for a Sunday service. The choirs hold competions and compete for the best choir in their area. They even make CD recordings of their hymns and sell them to make money for their church. It is considered an honor to be part of a church choir.

Writing tonight has helped my head to settle down. I see by the clock it is 6 minutes past midnight. Merry Christmas Evergreen, Merry Christmas Japan and Merry Christmas Tanzania!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reflections...Primary School...

Reflections on Teaching...Thanksgiving far from Home...
Chritmas Tree in Front of Apt.(red one)

As I stood in Lecture Hall # 2 watching my class come in for the exam it occurred to me that this scene could be repeated anywhere.  However, it wasn't; it was in Dodoma, Tanzania in a start up Christian university running on far less than is needed. As I walked around the room for test monitoring three lizards greeted me out one of  the windows.  They had  been sunning themselves in the late afternoon sun on a few rocks near by. Now that you would not see in Denver, Colorado even in the summer. Strange I think, here I am on the eastern side of Africa in a dusty town of 350,000, teaching at a small university that hopes to educate students with a Christian foundation in Humanities, Nursing,  Geography, Sciences, and Theology.  In general teaching here is harder but the rewards of getting to know your students are greater.   Most of my students must ride a local bus transportation system which is always breaking down, they have no computers or memory/flash drives and more rely on photo copied notes or hand written notes for studying. (come to think of it so did I when I went to college). More often the class is hot (4:00 pm) with no screens just open windows and most of the time my power point presentation projector will not work correctly. . But with a stroke of good luck and prayers my lectures usually start within 5 to 10 minutes and end on time. 
 Most faculty work 70 plus hours a week, teach very large classes in an effort to offer the students the courses they need to stay on schedule and graduate on time.  The biggest bottleneck now is reliable printers to make master copies of tests, notes, and handouts. 

The photocopy situation is very good as we have several heavy duty copiers that usually do not break down.  Printers are another story!  Also the internet out of Kenya is not always reliable and can be off hours at a time, interfering with faculty and student's research for assignments.  Personally, we use Vodacom, a wireless broadband system.  It is expensive for here, about 45.00 U.S. per month but has unlimited use.  So... as I watched, I thought about the difficult logistics to get the exam ready to give to 130 students.  After they were seated David helped me distribute the exam.  He had to be stern with a couple of students about talking and looking at each others test.  He gave them the option of one of them moving or both of them out the door.  A big problem here in the secondary schoools where these students come from do a "Talk and Chalk" approach because of limited resources.  As a result the study model for students is to memorize the material and write everything they know for each question, often not fully understanding it meaning.  I graded all 130 tests, and believe it or not, they all made at least a passing grade.

This week is Thanksgiving week and its hard  not to think about it.  What we are doing is having a Saturday evening dinner for all of the missionaries and us, plus a few other invited guests, about 20 people all total.  No turkey, though, as they are only available for Christmas here.  Chickens are having to do, plus a pork roast.  Chickens, well, they are not very big, even those we bought at Two Sisters Grocery.  Hopefully there will be enough.  Everyone is bringing a traditional dish fixed the way they prepare it.  Should be fun.  Last night the Carrs had a belated birthday dinner for me and his wife who had a birthday this week.  We had three kinds off pizza, none like the U.S. pizza, but very good!

This week David and I went out to a k-12 village school (see pictures) and we were impressed with the eagerness of the students to learn even though the school had not windows or doors in some cases and 1100 hundred sudents wearing dingy, torn, and too large uniforms in most cases.  The average number of students in Primary was between 60 and 70 per class.  In secondary, about 40-50.  This is a government school, not private.  Private schools have better materials and equipment and teachers are paid more and tend to remain with the school long term.

 It is an understood fact that if someone with a white face visits, they assume you have lots of money to help their school. This is because so many agencies are trying to help Tanzanians in many areas, it gives that impression. The first  thing we said was we are not missionaries, not from an international agency, but just volunteers.  We have no agency supporting us.  We only have at this point services to offer.  Some disappointment but we discussed other ways we could help and it not cost much money.  Visiting classrooms (see pictures) illustrated why it is chalk and talk.

 The students have a cheap notepad they write down everything the teacher puts on the board, often have to repeat the information in unison, yet they are very eager to learn.
 In the English class, Primary level 3, students introduced themselves (10 students picked at random). Their English pronounciation was excellent.  The teacher is doing a good job with viturally nothing to work with!

David has finished writing the Master's in Special Education and it is ready to be reviewed by the various university committees.

 I am sure it will need some amending, but the plan is to send it on to the Tanzanian Ministry of Human Services and Education for hopeful approval. 
The special education course for undergraduates he wrote will be offered in second semester (March 2010).  While an optional course, he hopes he doesn't have 400 students enroll as there is a great deal of interest.

No word yet on our computer and phone.  I can only assume they are gone forever.  Every once in while I get a little sentimental over the loss of my mother's pictures and our oldest son's wedding pictures. But we now back up all our photos and data we type.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Computer Grew Legs..Swimming...Company...Making Do

Today is Wednesday the 18th and it is my birthday!! Never thought I would be in Tanzania for a birthday, but God always changes your plans! It has been a difficult couple of week for us.  This past Friday someone on campus stole our computer and phone right out of our office.  David left the room for about three minutes to pick up a print copy down the hall only to return to an empty desk.  Well, not entirely empty.  The power cord was left behind as well as the computer case.  That was a blessing we are told because the power cord is hard to find in Dodoma and our computer had no battery in the back.  So our HP is useless unless someone can find the right cord and battery for it.  In the meantime Davd and I are working hard to replace the lost lectures that were in the computer.  Because our computer was to be our home away from home for calling family and friends,(Skype), pictures of life in Colorado with family and friends and pets, generally personal correspondence, etc., it feels like our life was ripped into pieces.  Needless to say I have been very upset...but life is slowly returning to normal.  Below is David wih the university car we use on weekends.

The Vice Chancelor gave us his new in the box personal computer until other arrangements can be made.  Everyone here has been wonderful and understanding but really can not help return the computer.  One student in my Grammar class is a local police officer and personally was going to help with the recovery.  All this is encouraging but now so many days have past we both feel we will not be getting the computer back. The thief has been in Dodoma computer shops trying to get a power cord.  Now that they have been alerted they are waiting on this person to come back again. David had to go to the Police station to fill out a stolen property report.  He says if you want to have a program that scares youthful offenders straight, the jail in this place would do it.  Anyway, he gave his information and will wait to see what happens.

Saturday we took the UK family again to the swimming pool. 

They are such a joy to be with.  Daniel and Issiac
are learning to swim and both their parents are such good swim teachers. 
The Dodoma Hotel has great pizza (but I am told it depends on the cook).
Sunday we had Moses and Ruth over for lunch.  Moses had just finished two Sunday services at the Cathedal for the local Tanzanians. (Service is not in English).  Grace came all dressed up in red with cute little shoes. 

Here is David with little Grace.  Moses has written  a book, REAL POWER:  Jesus Christ's Authority Over the Spirits.  He points out from his research that many Tanzanians Christians still believe that the Spirit World is also needed because they don't believe that God answers their prayers soon enough to solve personal issues in their everyday life. He feels that missionaries and native Tanzanian ministers need to support both the spiritual and personal side of Tanzanians.  The book is so popular that it had to be reprinted.  Defintely worth discussing in Bible Study sessions.
David's Point of View:

Having the computer taken was devastating because I had all my Modules for the class on it.  For Charlotte, it was even worse.  She had loaded a lot of pictures, etc. because that was the easiest way to travel.  We thought we could use a computer to reprint  important ones.  Nope!  All the printers at St. John's are toner black and white due to difficulty getting ink refills.  Everyone has been sympathetic because they know we are trying to help them get an education.  They are embarassed by the epsiode.  The good news is that all the computer shops are looking for it.   The dummy who stole it doesn't have the power cord nor a battery and HPs are not normally sold in Tanzania.  Some students have said please don't leave.  I have no plans to let this situation deter me.  I am more determined than ever!  The police say that there is a ring of thieves that have stolen computers at the University of Dodoma making them think that is what has happened here.  The University will replace it if its not found soon.  I am using the Vice Chancelor's indefinitely.  It was a new one still in the box.  He is an excellent leader for the University.

The rain has made everything much greener and people are starting to plant gardens as they depend on them to eat.  The rain in some ways has actually helped the dirt roads by packing them down but still deep mud puddles that could stall out a car.  I am going to be able run a special education course next semester to sample interest in disabilities.  Little or nothing is done for those with disabilities due to few teachers with training and little money to pay them.  I got some help on my quest to get these future teachers to structure lessons to get students to think and problem solve.  An education meeting was held in Dar es Salaam and it made the major papers.  The focus was how to move from "Chalk and Talk" to a learner centered approach, exactly what I am stressing in class. "Chalk and Talk"  refers to the instructor writing on the board and students copying the information down, memorizing for tests and to get ready for the national tests that allow you to enter a college or just graduate from secondary school.  To be fair, a lot of the problem over the years has been a lack of supplimentary materials (How about basic course textbooks for a start?), resulting in a rut in how students are taught.  Secondary schools including government schools are tuition based, not free.

Enough on these issues.  Oh yes, one positive note.  We are now hooked to two water storage sources giving constant water availability.  We are going to a wedding on Saturday out in one of the villages.  Let you know how that turns out.

Monday, November 9, 2009

RAINING!!!.....Retreat with the Nuns....Lecturing and Planning

Today is Sunday, November the 8th and it has been raining off and on since last night.  What a relief to all of us.  We still have no water today but no matter....the rains are coming and the weather is cooler.  Everyone tells us we need to buy umbrellas but we can't find where to buy them.  So for now we are making do...
David requested one of the three cars the university keeps around again for today.  I never thought I would say it but it is nice to be able to drive to church on our own and be independent for at least one day a week.  After church we ventured to our market places ( David enjoys teasing the two retired sisters from India who own one of grocery stores) and then drove home only to find the electricity and water off.
Oh well,that is Dodoma!

I have included a picture with Dr. Carr and myself discussing my teaching of English Literature.  Then another of the instructor who has returned to take the English Literature course back.  He was the young fellow who had the terrible traffic accident that killed two people.
 What a relief! Now I can concentrate on the grammar course and other three seminars during the week!  David is still working on developing a master's degree program in special education and teaching his class of 300 students.

This Friday and Saturday we ventured along with the Salaman's and their two boys to a missionary conference for UK people.  It was held at a Catholic retreat ran by nuns and local residents.  The Catholics sure know how to invest their money in God's name.
 The facility was wonderfully build like a villa opening to a courtyard. It had acres and acres of walking gradens, food gardens, orchards and a trade school located across the main road to train young adults in woodworking, cooking, sewing, etc.

 The rooms had great hot water and had it all the time!( Can you tell we were very impressed!)  It was also located on a rise from where you could still see the small hills surrounding Dodoma and the communication towers.  The local residents still live in extreme poverty right up to the walled gates but at least this retreat offers them some local employment.  David and I were the American babysitters for four British children, the Salaman's children, and two wonderful girls ages five and eight who came up from the sourthern part of the country (near the Mozambique border) with their parents.

 All in all it was a refreshing change and the food was great!

Missionary Truck from
Tobora Area. (notice
no dirt even though it came
60 miles on dirt roads)
                                                         Courtyard at Catholic retreat.
          David with some of his 300 students.

Teaching in a lecture hall with a poor sound system and concrete walls and floors makes it tougher be understood by students who speak English as their second language.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New Camera Will Travel...

Tonight is Thursday( November 5th) and we have new pictures and a new camera.  The week has gone fast!  It was our first week with classes and a full schedule of seminars.  Add in early morning Chapel, prayer meeting on Tuesdays, Bible Study on Wednesday (7:00 pm) and Choir practice on Wednesdays (4:00 to 6:00pm) and Saturdays I am one tired puppy this week.  Not to mention the fact I am now recovering from a very bad cold I caught last week.   With the week nearing an end and a retreat coming up at a conference center Friday night and Saturday, I decided to enter these pictures of the campus,  We are still learning about our new don't expect too much.  Just a footnote here on how our camera came to be.  Yesse the young man who picked us up in Dar es Salaam (Human Resource Director) was going back to Dar on business and said he would pick us up one.  SO....we gave him the money and here is our camera.  Now you might ask why would we not buy one here in a town of 350,000 people.  BECAUSE most things sold in Dodoma are either very cheap,  or possibly an "old-new" camera and may not work well or they are very high end and cost more than they are worth. 

Everyone told us to wait and buy in Dar or the United States when we were back there. Yesse was our knight in shinning armor.  We are very grateful to him.

Yesse with David in Living Room..with camera!!
We still have nothing up on our walls because the walls are concrete.
All the pipes and electrical wiring are on the outside on the walls.
If anyone has any suggestions would love them on how to hang things in concrete. (No special nails or screws are sold here!)

This is the largest tree on campus  over 150 years old in the background.
There are  places to sit around it for the students.  It is one of the best places to be when it is hot which is everyday.

This is David and Aurelia, my two seminar instructors.  They also teach a class each with over 130 students in their second year of study.
David teaches Dialects of English and Aurelia teaches the Oral Traditions of Africa along with myself doing Written Literature.  There was bad traffic accident involving a professor from our English Department killing two people.  Due to issues related to the accident he is unable to teach his Literature class so Aurelia and I were asked to take over.  WOW!, what a difference taking on another class makes to my schedule when you include two more seminar classes per week to prepare for.  So I said of yes,course, but hope he is back soon to teach.

David's (Reid) Curriculum and Methods class is waiting to get in the
 main theater which holds around 600 people. 
His class now averages around 300 students for lectures.

David before class around 2:00 p.m.
He has been using a projector for his power points.  Things are going better for his huge group now.  David's course is on educational curriculum for secondary students.

Notice the way we keep our windows open with the now broken rulers.
David and I are using the same computer (ours).  Most professors use their own computer.  Our little office has two desks, two chairs and a very small book shelf with a few of our books.Throw in a power strip and internet/printer connections and we have many things to tangle our feet.

David's assistant, Angelina teaching a seminar, one of 13 during the week.  His other assistant Focus (pronounced Focooz) teaches half of the seminars as does Angelina.  David acts as a mentor and guide to help them review lecture content and hear students make presentations on topics from the curriculum course.  They will help "mark" test papers and other assignments for the 300 students.

My Week in Review (By David Reid)

This week has had both good and not so good things happen.  Good is that the lectures are going well and lecture assistants are reinforcing the lecture content in the seminars.  I am lucky to have two very competent people assisting me. I am working on an undergraduate course for all our future teachers to take on how to work with mild disabilities.  The Dean has also asked me to put together a proposal for a possible master's degree in Special Education.  I have completed the prospectus so far.

Things that did not go so well include not getting things printed in a timely manner, due to the department being sold "new-old toner" replacement that was only half full.  It had to be taken back and demand a refund to go and buy one in the box that  totally sealed with a manufactor's date.  (Only $157.00 U.S.)

Next, the tech assistant was not at the checkout center for PowerPoint projectors and made me late to class for both lectures this week.  Then another instructor put the power cord for the projector that Charlotte was to use in his own computer case leaving Charlotte without a cord to power her presentations ruining her lecture effectivness for the class. Finally, students were upset because if they did not have their ID card showing they had paid their tuition, they could not continue attending class.  Naturally this left some students very unhappy.

It getting late about 10:00 p.m. here in Tanzania, but 11:00 a.m. in Denver, so I am signing off.  The next blog entry will include our visit to the Catholic Retreat for a two day meeting of Anglican missionaries!  Think about that for a moment.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Well...the first week of classes has past and we have survived!  I met my class for the first time and had about 100 students.  I went over the course syllabus and explained the usual about importance of attendence, etc.
It was a strugggle from the start.  First, the power strip for the projector would not work properly, delaying class a few minutes.  Second, I have to learn to slow down and re-explain often due to their English as a second language. My assistant instructor told me I had an accent.  Like the British don't!  Third I made the mistake of trying to handout a one page correction sheet for the seminar schedule.  I was mobbed, pushed, and had the handouts taken out of my hands by the students.  I hope they got a copy in the chaos.  My assistant said don't hand out things but let them go to the copy shop a get a copy.

The second session went much better and I had 250 students show up.  I slowed down and repeated information from the PowerPoint and this seemed to help a great deal.  One of my goals is to get the future teachers to understand how to teach for understanding and not just memorize a lot on information to later forget.  On Monday, yesterday, I think they are beginning to understand what I am trying to do.

Charlotte's classes went pretty well.  She has only about a 100 student in one of the many smaller lecture halls and doesn't need a microphone.  However she has to write on the board which needs resurfacing.So she bought some large chart paper and is supplimenting with that.  She has three seminars later in the week. I have 13 seminars but my Assistants, both who have taught and have their Master's Degree or working to finish it, wanted to conduct the seminars and have me serve more as a mentor.  They both are very capable.

I went to church twice this past Sunday, once to the 7:30 a.m. on campus where Charlotte now sings in the choir.  Then at 9:30 a.m. at the Catheral where she teaches Sunday School for about 20 missionary and Tanzanian kids age 3-7 years.  We had Communion at both.  Wow, one more communion could make one begin to feel pretty good!  (Not really, but it was an interesting morning.) .   Later in the afternoon we went to Msalato to visit Moses and Ruth.  Ruth and little Grace have had a touch of Malaria and Typhoid, but they are better now. Charlotte had made baby Grace a sweater and it just did fit her.   Moses and Charlotte discussed her working at Msalato next semester.  What she is doing here at St. John's is a good primer for her to teach English there.  I will continue to teach here at St. John's.  All in all the week went fairly well for us both.


I remember reading a person's blog before we left about all the noise in Dodoma.  They were right!  Long before a normal person would begin to stir the sounds of the day come floating into our bedroom.  First there is the call to prayer which starts before the sun comes up.  I am not sure how long it lasts because I am dozing.  Then just when you think it is safe to fall asleep again here come the Catholic bells ringing loudly for a good three minutes or so.  Next the local dogs pitch their howls in with the bells.  Long after your head is left damaged a group of roosters down the street start to crow.  Last but not least are a small group of pigs squeling for food.  All this noise and it's only 6:00 in the morning!


Dry and more dry...water is in short supply right now.  Over the weekend we had a 24 hour period without tap water available.  Our buckets are now half full with water.  Everything needs water.  Once last week we actually had a small shower which lasted about 15 minutes as a storm moved through. It didn't even wet the sand.   The trees here are amazing though.  They seem to thrive without water pushing out their flowers for the spring.  Pink, red,  purple, white flowers all creating a canapy of sorts. Once we get our new camera I will provide some spring time pictures.  Right now the word on the street is that come early November the rains may begin.  Due to global warming and deforesting of the local trees  Dodoma has only one season for rain instead of the usual two.  With its population growing the results will be difficult in the future!  I hope and pray the city starts to increase ways to store water and to provide water to its people.


The local chapel choir I have joined is still very small.  Not everyone from last year has returned to practice I am told and we are too many altos or base to carry a good tune.  Oh well, it is still fun and close.  I just walk around the corner to another house for practice.  The couple that leads the choir have two very small children and are wonderfully dedicated to being missionaries.  I have enjoyed interacting with their children. They are so cute and sound so British! (Reminds of the voices in Harry Potter movies.) Speaking of children, the Sunday School experience I may not help at all.  The children really don't another adult since the activities are done in one large group with three other adults.  That may change so I was asked to come back in another two weeks.  David groaned and moaned about the two services but time went really fast at both.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Back to School..and Cement Minature Golf

School is starting at St. John's University on Monday, October 19th.  Not all the new staff have arrived in either of our departments.  Due to the economy and just Tanzanian cultural attitudes the first week here we have been told will get off with  a slow walk.  Most students will arrive during the week for the dorms or as a day student. Registration was this past week but only about 400 new students showed up to register.  David's curriculum class will be the highest with perhaps over 400 students in the largest of the lecture halls.  I may only have as many as 130 students in my one class on English Grammar and that will be held in a smaller lecture  room.  Each of us will have smaller cluster classes during the week relating back to our larger lectures (two in all) that was given to the total group.  In each seminar we have an assistant who will help grade and actually review the main lecture material with students.  These assistants will attend at least one lecture during the week and consult with us reguarding attendance, questions they might have and any other confusing topics.
This system is not perfect but due to the lack of qualified teachers living here in Tanzania  for many of the subjects it is the best alternative St. John's has at the moment.  David and I will know by the end of two weeks how effective our teaching and this new system of departing knowledge will be. 
During last week the campus began to come alive.  Students started moving into the dorms near our apartment, local Tanzanian professors started appearing and new students arrived everyday for orientations.
Despite the lack of a book store and textbooks, most students I have met appear eager to learn and ready to start.  St. John's ability to educate these students will rely solely on the professors and their oral lecture notes. Much of the learning in primary and secondary schools was done this way.  (We are awaiting another shipment of textbooks that may allow more copies available in the library.)  It takes time for cargo to get to Tanzania, get processed and then shipped overland to Dodoma These notes and other information needed to understand the topics taught, especially in the sciences and  pharmacy, will be available at the photocopy shop on campus. Here the students must drop by and purchase a copy of the lecture notes and other materials available through the instructor. Textbbook are not available for purchase currently.  We have provided several copies of selected texts that lectures are based and have those copied and bound for the library.  These are put on two hour reserve and not allowed to leave the library.  Both of us will be using our prior knowledge and the few textbooks we brought with us.  Students are required to bring paper, pencils or pens to class.  As for our teaching equipment David will have a projector for his power points due to the size of his classes.and also a microphone.  I on the other hand will have a chalk board, chalk and talk loud..
Wish us luck this week...and say a prayer!
Sunday we visited a putt-putt golf course and pizza place!  Our English (UK) neighbors down the road with two small children offerred to take us out for pizza and golf.  On a Sunday afternoon we were the only people there (except for three Japanese young men).  I don't think the concept of putt-putt has caught on here in Dodoma.  Really its more like cement golf.  Because of termites any wood in the ground is goobled up quickly and carried off for their building material.   We all had a lot of fun especially the children, who ran around all over the course to play.  This entertainment center even had grass, wonderful watered flowers and shrubs and an outside bar.  I certainly hope it is successful....Dodomaians I am sure would love to experience
"silly golf" as our UK family called it. Oh yes the pizza was really good also.
Just a foot note here.  We have now been without water for two full days now.  Today David and I both braved using bottled water to wash out hair.  Our buckets of water are running out and its getting harder to cook and clean up.  I was told that this is a decision that the water company makes to conserve water.  I would have thought that the college would be exempt from this policy but I guess not.  Hopefully the water will be back on tomorrow...or we must buy more bottles of water.
PS:  No pictures for awhile our camera died and no one can repair a camera  in Dodoma!
Charlotte and David

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Alive and Kicking! Little Things that Drive One Mad!! Classes Start Monday

(picture of residency gate..guard sits in
side all day notice no fence just the gate)

It's the day after our first left hand drive in Dodoma and we are still alive and kicking!  David was a little nervous but I knew with his driving skills and road wits we would do fine.  His left arm (which was broken last year), gave him some problems with the shifter because the linkage is too loose.  But all in all he did great!!  We went north toward the village of Msalato.  On a Sunday there was not the normal traffic and people out on their bikes and walking. I  don't know when we will get a university car again, possibly next Saturday when its not being used for offical business. There are more newly hired employees coming in to live on campus along with students who are arriving every day now into the dorms.  Registration started this week with the usual campus confusions and "I don't have that information".  David and I have not been asked to help this semester because we are so new. Then there's next semester!  It seems to be a very big task especially with the lack of enough trained technical staff and computer programmers.
Back to the drive. After our drive we treated ourselves to the restaurant inside the Hotel Dodoma near the old railroad station.  No one there (No other Westerners due to CAMS School being on break)....we had the place to ourselves on a Sunday.  This restaurant serves very good food for what we think is a reasonable price, $7.00 to $8.00 a dish (In the U.S. the equivalent cost would be $15.00-$20.00.)  They serve a variety so we don't believe we will get bored.  One does need to put up with flies...the restaurant is open on one end into a large inner courtyard where the hotel rooms look out onto a nice garden and outside eating/seating areas.



Last night before prayer meeting (with a few of the staff here on campus) I invited two of our neighbors over for pizza.  Now back home in Colorado or even North Carolina or Georgia (where we have lived before), making pizza is no big deal...but you can forget how difficult doing cooking can be without the right items or in my case conviences.  For example...First, I had to  make the pizza crust from scratch and my flour is of a darker mixture than the refined flour back home.   Second, my measuring cup is in Centimeters which causes big converting problems for me (not a math person).  I'm guessing how much is a cup or 1/3 cup and finding measuring spoons in the markets is impossible.  Third, my wonderful little oven is in Celsius degrees, which until my neighbor explained the right temperatures to use, was a complete mystery to me!  Therefore a few attempts have either gone flat or came out toasty.! Next, to make matters worse I must wash all the veggies and peel the skin off the tomatoes before I slice them.  Now that is a royal pain believe -you -me. 
In addition, the cheese needed to be grated on a grater, mushrooms came in a can (no fresh ones here), and just try finding a pizza pan in Dodoma!  All in all though, the pizza turned out fine.  It's amazing how one can be fairly resourceful when called upon. Our prayer meeting was just right next door so we all walked over and read passages from Isaiah and our neighbor led us in open prayers.

Once arriving in Dodoma to my amazement I discovered that hot water in my kitchen sink is not always reliable due to the city turning off the water at odd times and we have remeber to turn on the hot water tank  a few minutes before use.  Now this does not mean I have the only problem...this seems to be norm due to the water tanks and shortage of running water.  So all over Dodoma in the markets one can find places that sell hot water thermoses.  You just keep your hot dish water in the thermos bottle by your sink to use in your dish water. (Yes, you do need to heat your cold water first in a pot.) Then using a plastic bowl in your sink you fill that with half cold and some hot.  Rinsing is not easy, you either need another good size bowl or must use really cold water from your sink facuet.  I'm getting use to the routine but really miss the one facuet with hot and cold running all together!!  Oh the little things that drive one mad.....!

My Concerns by David
Three things have me concerned.  One, I need to get a watch by next Monday to know when classes start and end, etc.  Two, Charlotte and I are sharing one computer to prepare our coursework.  Three, we need our own printer to check our work quickly, especially at home.  On campus we are connected to the College of Education printer but several faculty use it, meaning much sharing (Am I selfish?).  So far the only kind we have found sold here is about $375.00 U.S. and is heavy duty office use.  Anyone out there  who would like to donate a cheap black and white print, printer?  Color is not a good choice due to finding color refills.
I am in the process of finishing my powerpoints for the courses I am teaching.  I had to rearrange the sequence in one course to make it flow better and edit previous powerpoints to fit other courses.  The one really positive thing is that I have a excellent young Indian women who seems very capable and has flawless English.  She will help me with seminars and will do some lecturing where she feels she has the expertise.

I want anyone who reads this blog to appreciate what is happening here.  This is the unversity's third year and will graduate its first undergraduate class next spring.  The key people here have worked 24/7 to make it happen. It is not easy to start a university on a limited budget (Enrollment this year may grow to 3,000.). They have done a fantastic job! Charlotte and I will do everything we can to help in this wonderful endeavor. But there is much lacking in the day to day supplies of running and keeping up a university.  They could use basic teaching materials such as white dry erase boards, overhead projectors, paper for copiers, copiers themselves, notebooks, binders, shelving for books, desks and chairs for teachers and students, small printers for our personal laptops we use, and in general we need a student book store with used textbooks for rent or sale.  The university moved its library into a renovated building when a wonderful donation of over 80,000 books arrived last year.  They have recently completed renovation of several smaller buildings to house new and old staff from the administration building as well as more classroom space.  This complex was once a boys' secondary boarding school for about 1200 students (800 dorm and 400 day).  The school was built in the 1960's and the campus was given to St. John's U. by the TZ government to get things started.  It sat closed until reopened as St. John's University of Tanzania.  Much repair was needed to many of the buildings.  As of yet, it is still on an  'as needed'  basis when donations arrive.
Pictures are of St. John's main administration building ...more to come as classes start!
This ends this segment.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Buckets Everywhere! Sounds of Morning! Transportation in Dodoma!

Today is Thursday, October the 9th and we have just had our first water shortage here at the homestead!
It seems that if you run your tank dry for some reason you can not fill your tank easily the next day.  It will take longer to fill with water than the water may be running.   The other problem is pressure.  Simply put you have little..and when you have little pressure you have little cold or hot water.  So for about a day and night our two apartments had little water.  The Tanzanians seem to know how to deal with this problem.  Their solution is to fill large barrels and buckets with extra water (the plastic water can salesman at the market is very popular) and store these plastic containers until needed.  So I now have one red large bucket and one green bucket with lids and water inside standing in my kitchen! Lovely site!

But there's more.  Once you get your water from the city you  may need to boil it before drinking and using it to wash your veggies and fruits.  Today I spent a good three hours boiling cooking water and  water I can wash my fruits and veggies in..... PLUS I also need to keep hot water handy to wash my dishes in each time.  WHY you ask?  Because there is may not be hot water coming out of my kitchen sink area!

           You can see water has suddenly become very important in my daily life.  Not to mention that it is very dry here and sand blows everywhere.  Yes, drier than Denver but not hotter at the moment.  People who are local say that will change soon and it will start to rain in late October.

Sounds of Morning
I haven't said much about the mornings here.  From where we are living the city sounds of Dodoma don't really reach our ears, BUT the local Mosque certainly does! Right at daybreak the call for early morning prayer goes out over our part of town. It's rather nice in a way waking up to call for prayer to God.  Starts my day on a positive note and the Lord knows I need that right now!
Of course long before prayer call,  the roosters are up crowing along with the various packs of semi kept dogs that run around the campus.  By dawn the noise is so loud you just get up and deal with the water tank heater (which must be turned on about 20 minutes before a shower).
People in Dodoma get up and moving early here.  Lots of schools start by 7:30 am and children and adults are out walking the streets and dirt roads to town or to their schools. (No busing for children in Tanzania as I can see..cost is too get a ride or walk.)
 Usually by 7:30 or 7:45 am I can hear a drum band practicing in the distance and later school children playing outside.  These are the sounds in the morning that I cherish .  They remind me of home.

A typical 4wd Vehicle in Dodoma

Transportation in Dodoma

Transportation in Dodoma is an interesting and widely varied process.  First there are those who are fortunate enough to have a car.  Cars are fine in town and on the other paved roads.  However as you go directly south, north, or west, the main roads are all dirt. In town all the side streets are dirt, rough and narrow.  What really is needed is a 4wd SUV to clear the large potholes and big rocks that often stick up in the dirt streets and roads. Locals here seem to pay no attention to the roughness and drive fast  (50 mph+) like it was smooth and paved.
      The art of driving.  First, you need a Tanzanian license.  One of  the university drivers said he would get my license for me.  He needed a photocopy of my passport picture, work/resident visa, U.S. driver's license, and 12,000 shillings (About $ 9.00 U.S.) and he would get it for me.  He was gone about an hour and came back with the license. Fair enough, but I still have to go to the police station and have them put a stamp on it.
       Now actual driving requires having eyes similiar to that of an insect (lots of eyes and 360 degrees view). You need to see well on both sides, straight ahead, and remember you driving on the left side of the road as well as dodging people walking, or sort of wandering in the road, those riding bicycles on both sides of the road as well as suicide taxi drivers who seem to drive anywhere they want.  Did I mention a lot of motorcycles? There are few stop signs or other roads signs so you are on your own!

The Ideal Vehicle to have in Dodoma

Our neighbor  has the ideal vehicle.  Its an older Toyota Land Cruiser (mid 90s) that has heavy duty leaf springs, 3 inch shackle lifts giving the 4wd drive plenty of ground clearance, a large winch on the front, turbo diesel, axle housing braces, excellent luggage rack on top and oversized wheels and 6 ply tires.  Its very comfortable, even has a sunroof and air conditioning.  It has a 24 volt electrical system, too.
      To give a perspective, if you wanted to go north to Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, you would need to drive on about 150 miles of dirt roads before you hit the paved road from Morogoro to take you the rest of the way.  Having gone north part of the way to visit the Catholic Retreat, it is a rough road!
This Sunday Charlotte and I will take a solo drive in one of the cars owned by the University .  Report will follow later!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Moving out...Moving In....Delivery in Dodoma

On Saturday we moved into our three room apartment.  What a difference a day can make. The university did paint our concret floors, fixed our missing window pieces, and delivered our stove and fridge (more about that later).  After visiting other homes in the area, I can say our apartment looks about like all the rest who work for missions or volunteer.
Most places have unpainted concret floors, one kitchen sink, a shower same level as the floor with a large drain, (very European I think), borrowed and mixed matched furniture, hot water until 8:00 am off until 5:00pm (Dodoma is conserving electricity and water), facuets that look like outside ones for hot and cold, well worn wall paint including drips,  and a trash hole and fire pit out back of your home. But it is home and once we get it painted ....things should look up. I wanted to do a  Home and Garden TV make over but the supplies here are limited.  Very little good paint that actually covers the walls and  brushes fall apart as you use them. I have painted the cabinets white with much effort due to the poor paint and brushes.  It took four coats and still does not look like one full coat.  When I have gone shopping the home selections have been confusing and limited.  Often making a person shop several small businesses in the market area for supplies...only to give up from heat exhaustion.

Now for the delivery in Dodoma.  Our neighbor, David and I had gone to two stores in Dodoma that carry high end items like real stoves and fridges. The preferred cooking tool is a two burner cooker that can sit on a counter or floor or a charcoal stove, neither will have an oven. Finally we all arrived at a joint decision and the university sent a voucher .  On the day of our move no one seemed ready to honor our needed time table for delivery. When the items arrived by special Dodoma way they were the wrong stove and fridge!! So our former host and now neighbor went back and delivered some old fashion western industrial talk to the owner about making the customer happy and delivering on your promises.  Soon a man in a delivery cart ( a man  pulling the cart about 3/4 of mile from downtown) appeared and exchanged the stove and fridge for the right ones.  (Pictures are below!  Enjoy!) What an exhausting day for all...but now we are moved in and I am baking bread in my new oven!  My Grandmother Fagerstrom would be soooo... proud!!
           New Fridge and Stove


The university still has not started but will slowly this week begin to assess students returning who failed a course or need to pay the rest of their tuition from last year and then take exams.  All in all it is still quiet out front.  Our place is right next to student housing.. about 800 of them when they come!! Right now we just have a couple of  African dogs (We nick-named "Mange" and "Flea"), a few university students, some faculty and two friendly gray lizards, "Fly Boy" and "Skeeter" (because they eat insects off our walls).  Soon another blog on transportation in  Dodoma.

Blessings, Charlotte and David

Thursday, October 1, 2009

To Market..To Market..Rice and Stones!!

To Market ...To Market.. Rice and Stones...Grocery Stores!

Today's blog will concern itself with food!  Without a car... life here is rather dependent on who will take us to town and when.  Most days, because the university is not up and running the semester yet, we hitch a ride with our neighbor.  Riding into town is an adventure in itself but it really starts once we arrive near the vegetable and fruit markets.
 The establishments base themselves inside an open well used building ...which once inside might remind you of an Indiana Jones' movie.  It is dark in some sections with narrow passages,  flies trying to settle on food and people with bags of rice, potatoes , beans and peanuts everywhere.  Once your eyes have adjusted to the darkness you can see small boys running around begging to carry your shopping bags for just a few shillings. The vendors are  polite and friendly which surprised me due to all the confusion elsewhere.  You can find almost anything here except meat.  Evidently a few years ago a rather nasty sickness happened here due to the selling of butchered  meat without keeping it cold. This stopped the practice of offerring meat by its feet and hanging it upside down for flies to land on! I really haven't cooked on my own yet so I'm not very sure where I will buy non-frozen meats but I know you can here in Dodoma. For now I am perfectly happy to buy frozen (hopefully without flies attached).

                                                                                                                     Going to Outdoor Market

While in the market my nieghbor advised me to buy a rice basket.  This came as a complete surprise to me for I seldom clean my rice when I am home.  But for some strange reason there are small white stones in the rice sold in the market.  I know this for a fact because David and  I have chopped down on a spoonfull of rice only to hear a large crunch!  You take the unwashed rice and shake it  aound in the flat rice basket.  I am assuming the little stones fall out then through the bottom..but some hold on for dear life and make it into cooked rice!! Oh My!

English speaking grocery owners are few and far between here in the city.  There is a new store outside of town on the way back to Dar es Salaam that is small but operates like a small supermarket.  It has prices on the items, stocked on well lighted shelves, and they even give you a itemized recipe at the end!! Most of the stores just add up the items without telling you what they cost and show you the total on paper or on a calculator.  Yes, no prices on your cans, cartons, eggs, drink cases, boxes of cereal (not much variety either in the types of items you can buy.)                                                                                                                                                           .
There has also been somewhat of a shortage here in  milk and soft drinks in all our stores for the past week or so.  We don't know just can't buy those items anywhere in town. David is going bonkers for diet drinks!! I can survive on tea or coffee but I must admit I am beginning to want milk for cereal and creamer.

Food here in general is good. Our host has a  housekeeper who cooks, well the same meal everyday and it is healthy but meat free.(rice, tomatoes, onions, beans, potatoes, cucumbers  green beans). Sometimes we go to Rose's Cafe,  an Indian resturant down town near Two Sisters' Grocery Store. She has excellent food and very cheap prices.  Rose serves the best tea and milk drink along with chicken or beef curry dishes.  Yes curry... but it is not spicey like in Boulder, Colorado..very good and fills you up.  After a rather exciting round of shopping in Dodoma, Rose's Cafe seems a little like being home (but first I close my eyes and tap my feet twice).

Stay tuned for more adventures here at the end of the highway in the middle of Tanzania....

Blessings to you all..............Charlotte and David

PS: Can't really show the Market because some people do not want their picture taken.  I will try to sneak one in from the street!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


(Mama Ruth and Grace in a dress from Colorado)
I can't believe another week has gone by since we arrived.  So much has happened to us and St. John's University has not even started back up yet!!  There are so many topics I could write about that I have decided to share only one or two for each new blog I write.  That way I can upload pictures and you can see the joys and frustrations of living in Dodoma.
The first topic I would like to share is about the missionaries here and volunteers like ourselves.  There is only a small community of internationals here, mostly from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and few of us from the United States and Canada.  We mostly bump into one another as we move about downtown shopping at all the English friendly stores or markets.  Everyone here is connected somehow to a church organization, health agency, soil or water project, educational institution, book and Bible distributors, or like us here on our own.  Here in Dodoma there are about 100 of us out of about 300,000 population.  We sort of stand out, especially when walking.  Tanzania appears to use a lot of outside assistance to help with humanitarian projects. David and I have met a number of people who are from the UK, Australia or New Zealand.  In fact I am beginning to think in an accent!! OOPS!
                                                                                                                   Church of England in Dodoma

Another group of people who live and work here are the ones whose ancestors came from India.  They appear to run the smaller grocery stores and some of the resturants.  They speak several languages including  English. As of yet no motels, just a couple of hotels are operated by people orginally from India.
Market owners are locals along with the day laborers.  We see road work (Shoveling gravel, etc.) often done by African women.
(Woman do a lot of the work here!)
We will need to employ a housekeeper three days a week.  They are usually women or men who live near the college and will clean, wash by hand (no washing machines or dryers here) and iron, cook lunch, burn your trash, ( no pick up in Tanzania) and water what brave little plants you have growning! I draw the line at burning my own trash you see.  By the way if we had to do that in America I can tell you that it will really change the way you see yourself shopping.  Last week David bought 5 cans of coke and I asked our host  where to put the empty cans.  He said they will go out in a hole in the backyard for things you don't burn. I turned to David and said, "Sorry, only bottles for you from now on..I can't have a dump and a fire pit in my backyard!" So it's back to the 1950's with glass bottles and cases of drinks.
Sunday morning downtown Dodoma!

The last item is our University population.  The faculty here are all educated (MA, or few with PhDs like David) and come from various African countries, Tanzania as well as the usual western nations.  The staff of administrators are all from Africa and many from Tanzania.  Some have been educated out of the country even as far away as the US or UK.  That is a blessing for our students.  It provides a wonderful role model.  More coming about the food, the clothing, the roads, the weather and yes our mission!
             R TO L David,  teachers from St. John's and  CAMS on a Sunday for coffee and biscuts.