July 6, 2015

tupendane (love eachother)

oh my goodness so yeah it's almost been a month since I have been home and I have been putting off blogging about the last bits of my trip. This post will be about the orphanage I worked at and final thoughts. Tupendane is the name of the Orphanage and it means love eachother. Isn't that just awesome!?! What I really learned about teaching there is all you really need is love, the beatles were right. These kids are dying for some love + attention. Some are orphans and some come from around the area for school. Whether they have parents or not I highly doubt they get much attention at home. We come into class and the kids swarm us. It made me tired everyday with the kids sitting on you, pulling you and just constantly grabbing you. They just want to be loved.

The Mount Meru Uhuru Vulnerable Foundation and Tupendane Orphanage Center, better known as Tupendane, opened its doors to the community on January 1, 2011. At the start, Tupendane had nine children. Director Emmanuel Shayo and his wife Margret started Tupendane, which translates to “love each other” in Swahili,  in an effort to help Tanzania’s most vulnerable children. Tupendane’s vision is
To create a plethora of opportunities and a better environment for vulnerable children, so that these children need worry only about making their dreams come true.”

Tupendane is located in the Usa River Village in the Arusha district of Tanzania. Tupendane is always accepting new children, and as the children reach the ages of seven and eight, they often leave to attend the nearby public school. At any given time, there will be approximately thirty students at Tupendane, between the ages of two and eight. About half of the children live at the center, while the other half travel back and forth from home each day. Those who live at the center may be orphaned, but in most cases, their families are either too poor to care for them, or live too far away for them to travel home regularly.

Like I've said before, it takes about an hour or more to get there. We get there around tea time. They only have tea for breakfast, fried plantains if they are lucky. The tea is served so hot. We helped serve and blow on the teas haha. We then hand washed the cups. Teacher Rose is 22. She is a sweet heart. She is a little shy it's cute. She is a great teacher. Class time she teaches english, math and swahili. Honestly the lack of education is really sad. It was really hard for me at first. I wanted to teach the kids everything and it was so frustrating with the language barrier. I mean 7 year olds didn't know how to add or subtract. A little girl vanessa could barely hold her pencil. Patience and love is key. I had to think of new ways to teach them without talking. They had these old workbooks that have ripped pages and are just so worn out. The pencils were two inches long and they were all fighting over the sharpener and rubbers (erasers). The day I bought them new pencils was probably the best day. You should have seen how happy they were. They were so excited to do there work. I brought losts of gifts from donations from home (thank you everyone). They loved anything really. My favorite was when I gave them glow sticks. Oh my goodness their faces when they cracked them and they lit up. They had never seen anything like it. These kids pretty much have nothing. And yet they are the happiest kids I have seen. They constantly hit eachother but I know they love eachother and watch out for eachother. They had the same lunch every day, beans and corn. Sometimes rice and beans. They share water all out of 4 cups. There are about 30 kids. New kids came in ever so often. During free time us volunteers got to choose what to do. I liked going out when it was nice. Ah going out was so fun. Crazy but fun. We went to a field aross the street. And all the other neighbor kids not in school came to play. Some of the kids were very dirty. It was sad to see. They loved playing with us. We did games, songs, dancing, soccer, basketball, jump rope, frisbee, hopscotch, and watched movies. 

I wish I could give these kids everything. I gave them all I could. The orphanage is doing a great job and the owners are the sweetest, and Michael too! They gave me a certificate and a homemade shirt and maasai skirt!! It was so nice, they are so sweet!! Tanzanians love giving gifts, it's a part of the culture. They always offer you food when you are over as well. I learned so much from working here. I made my dream come true. I love these african babies. I wish I could have taken them all home with me. Oh the joy they gave me when they hugged me or gave me huge smiles. During class time they would always turn around to look at me. I know you're not supposed to have favorites...but Samweli was definitely my favorite. I really would have adopted him if I could. 

On my last day there, my parents came. It was so special to show them around. They kids LOVED them. Especially my dad. holy cow my dad was so good with some of them. I have never seen jacob smile so much. He is the oldest boy and is a punk sometimes. Some days were a lot of work and I didn't want to go cause it was so far but it always was worth it. You just had to think about the kids. Their hearts are so pure. I may or may not have cried my last day. Leaving was SO hard. I miss them so much.

Someone recently asked me if this experience changed my life. I didn't know how to respond. I never really thought about it. It's definitely made me change how I look at life. I'm trying to look at life in a simpler way. I have been so blessed in growing up in America where I really could do whatever I want. In Tanzania there are just not the same opportunities. I am so grateful for my life and being able to come and serve the people of africa just for a little bit. 

I've always wanted to come to Africa. Tanzania was the biggest dream of mine. This experience was SO out of my comfort zone. I flew out here knowing NO ONE, to a whole different continent. I have made some of the best friends here. It's awesome I have friends literally all over the world. We have so many inside jokes and have had so many good times going out on the town. Honestly I wouldn't have changed anything about this trip. It was too perfect to really put in words. I have learned a lot about myself. I learned that I would rather be out hanging with the neighborhood kids after placement than hanging out with people from the house. I came to Africa to serve, not to go out and drink! All the kids knew me, kids I didn't even know would be like "Natalia Natalia!!" I surprisingly learned a lot of swahili btw, I'm quite proud but I think I lost a lot of it. The people of Tanzania have blessed my life and I am better because of them. I am thankful for everyone who helped me get to Africa. Nakupenda Sana Tanzania <3 I hope to see you soon one day.


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