Sunday, 12 June
Abby was very excited as her Mum and brother, Josh were arriving this morning; Lucy had been out back in February but they had decided to return to do a family holiday – lots of safaris and a trip to Zanzibar! Fortunately their flight was a bit delayed so they didn't arrive too early. It was great to see them all again. We had a fairly relaxing day, catching up, helping them plan their trip and of course doing some work! Neville did his usual stuff and cooked another delicious meal. We had decided to stay up at Alison’s tonight so that Lucy could go to the travel agents in the morning and book her holiday and then we would go to school on the Tuesday so they could meet her 'special friends’ family!Monday, 13 June
Another relaxing start to the week, which meant we had a bit of lie-in
! When everyone was up and about, we headed to Slipway to one of the travel agents, before going up to Sea Cliff to get a comparative quote from the other main agent. We took Josh to Wonder Welders where they all bought small warthogs – it seems everyone loves the warthogs! We had some lunch at Oysterbay and waited patiently for the agents to call with a quote. Eventually Lucy managed to get it all sorted so went to pay – in Tanzania, you tend to pay cash for everything – credit cards are not really used and if you do use them, you are usually stung with a rather large handling fee which is exactly what happened to poor Lucy! 6% is a pretty large handling fee! Anyway, they had an amazing holiday organized and I can’t wait to hear all about it! We then headed back to the convent for supper – the Sisters were really pleased to see Lucy and Josh, which was lovely. We took Josh to the bar so he could see how we lead the high life here in DSM!! After supper I had some work and skyping to do before heading off to bed!Tuesday, 14 June
I woke quite early this morning, for the first time (I think!) I had slept without the fan on which meant I heard the Imam calling people to prayer at 5.30am!! Also we were waiting to hear whether Cameron had won the vote to be the 1st XV Rugby Captain
! Despite waking early, we didn’t rush to school, as there were not so many children there and certainly no staff meeting. Josh thought the walk was much better than had been described to him although as we were later than usual there were not so many children around. We thought it would be a nice idea for the family of the twins who Lucy was sponsoring to meet her and vice versa! It ended up being a fairly busy morning with lots of people coming and going and lots to sort out. Willbard had also come down to the school to discuss the quote for the dormitory refurbishment. Lucy met the twins’ Mum and baby sister who were petrified of wazungu! The twins were a bit shy to begin with but when Lucy gave Adam and Hawa a small gift they were more than happy to have their photo taken. The twins come from a very poor family so it is fantastic that Lucy’s sponsorship will help them out with uniform and the essentials. I then had to go to a meeting with UMIVITA (the other NGO supported by Tanzanear) to meet with their Patron, Professor Tolly of the Open University of Tanzania; he was an extremely nice man and we just had a general chat about the provision of education for disabled people in Tanzania, which unfortunately is not a major priority! We discussed ways of helping each other and he left his door open for us to approach them as and when we felt the need. When we got back to school, we pretty much left straight away for the convent and took a group of children with us. Josh and Abby had thought they might have gone and done some sight seeing round Dar but they were having such a good time at school they decided to stay there. The children were very keen to teach Josh some sign language and by the end of the day he definitely had the alphabet mastered and he could sign his name! We had supper at the convent and then Nige sent me a message to say that he had heard from Cameron who had been asked to Captain the 1st XV – a very proud Mum and Dad
! So I went and celebrated with a vodka and fruit juice with the Heath family! Cameron gave me a call and was clearly very happy – when I thought back to when he was first diagnosed, never in my wildest dreams did I think he would be captaining his school rugby team!Wednesday, 15 June
The Heaths were up early this morning as they were off on their travels. It seemed strange for me walking to school, the first time on my own since I had arrived! Unfortunately, I didn’t feel particularly great so just spent the day doing admin, tying up loose ends in preparation for my handover to Guy and Judi. Sadly there were still a number of children around – apparently the Manispaa was late in paying for the travel so teachers had been unable to take the children home! Luckily there were quite a few of them so at least they had each other to keep them company! Some, of course, would not be going home as they had no home to go to but fortunately the Head teacher has managed to find guardians for quite a lot of them! I really didn’t feel great so left early and pretty much headed off to my bed.Thursday, 16 June
I woke up feeling very poorly this morning so just spent the whole day in bed, sleeping for most of it. Sister Apolonia kept popping in to check I was ok and prepared some food for me including a chip omelette!! I didn’t even feel like turning on my laptop and every time I started reading I just fell asleep. Hopefully I would feel better tomorrow
! I did hear a sad piece of news though – the Deputy Head, George‘s son passed away from malaria – of course, you always hear about people dying of malaria but in a way you don’t expect in the city where there are medical facilities to treat people. Apparently his son had been ill the previous week and was being treated for pneumonia and with small children it is difficult to tell the difference between pneumonia and malaria; I still don’t understand why they don’t automatically check for malaria (even I did a test today!) but for some reason it is not happening and if not caught early, malaria is fatal! Poor George, he is such a nice man. He sent me a text message letting me know and asking me to go to a meeting that day but clearly I couldn’t go. As is typical Tanzanian tradition, when something like this happens, everyone is asked to help in any way they can and normally this means financial aid and I wasn’t wrong! It is good to know that everyone joins together in difficult times to help each other.Friday, 17 June
I woke this morning feeling pretty grotty still but I had to get up as some people from the US were visiting and coming straight to the school off the BA flight! So it was up early and off to school I went
. Lynne Batty was a physiotherapist from a deaf school in Boston, Beverly School for the Deaf (BSD like us!) She was passing through Dar with her family on her way to see her daughter who was working for the Peace Corps in Mtwara, which is right in the south. Her school had collected a load of goodies for the children at our school, which she wanted, to handover – 2 full suitcases of things! Alison and I showed her round the school and of course the children were delighted to meet someone who could sign the same as them! The Batty family were really lovely and despite feeling pretty poorly, it was worth getting up to meet them! And then we heard some good news - the girls had made it to the top of Kili - hooray! Alison and I then headed up to her house for some R & R before going to Ras Kutani for the weekend – Ras Kutani is a hotel, south of Dar, which is really lovely. Nigel had been wanting to go there for some time so it was great that I was able to do a ‘recce’ before we come out in the summer. We took the ferry from the fish market to South Beach and drove for about 40 minutes before arriving – sadly we arrived in the dark so I couldn’t really see what it was like, but one could definitely sense this was a very special place. We stayed at "Hill House" and as the name would suggest we had a stunning view over the bay! We had 2 rooms and a communal sitting area – all open plan. My room was lovely and huge, although you felt a little exposed when you went to the loo!
! We dropped our bags and headed down to the bar for drinks and supper – no shoes, just bare feet walking on sand everywhere. I knew immediately that the boys would all love this place. Pina Colada was the first order of the evening – I had to see how well they made them before moving onto the next cocktail! The food was delicious, this place was idyllic! We had a fairly early night and I was a bit worried about going back to the room as it was all fairly open plan, which meant there would lots of flying ‘bugs’, and I wasn’t wrong! However, once inside my mosquito net, I felt very safe and slept very soundly. It felt very good to hear things flying around and not have to worry about them coming into your space!!Saturday, 18 June
We were woken at 8.00 with coffee taken on the veranda overlooking a really stunning view – WOW! After a quick shower we headed down for breakfast – with some 100 steps up to our place, I took my things for a day of lying on the beach doing nothing! And that is pretty much what we did once we had been snorkelling around a shipwreck where we saw some amazing fish. Unfortunately, I still didn’t’ feel great but at least I was able to rest in beautiful surroundings.
It was truly a relaxing day and as Neville and Alison told me, I seemed to sleep for most of it!! As we walked back to our rooms before supper we saw lots of monkeys playing and grooming each other – they were very cute! The hotel organised a drinks reception that evening where Neville and I really enjoyed our Dar Donkeys! Neville and Alison had been a few times before so knew the Manager who organised for us to have our dinner on the beach – what a treat. You cannot believe how many stars there were – it was stunning. We spent most of our time just looking up at the sky looking for the elusive shooting star – they had both seen some here before so we were hoping to by lucky this time as well. Gosh, it was amazing and I knew that the boys back home would love it too. The staff were all lovely and although most of them were from local villages, their English was amazing! As we were speaking to one lovely waiter, suddenly I saw this light flash across the sky but it was at eye level and it felt very close – I had spotted a shooting star! It was a real surprise as I had expected to see one high up in the sky, far away! What a great end to the evening, we were all very excited.