Monday, May 23, 2011

Kitulizo Orphanage Pig Pens



This is Ernesti

The Kitulizo Orphanage shelters about 13 young orphans and sends another 22 children from low-income families in the community to primary school. It is run by two HIV positive individuals, Anna and Ernesti. They are some of the kindest and most genuine people in the world. The orphanage is funded mainly by donations and sponsors abroad and so it doesn't always have a constant source of income. It can barely put two meals a day on the table for all of the children, let alone send all of them to school. As part of a team, Milla and I are helping build pig pens that will eventually turn into a business and return a profit for the orphanage. They already own two pregnant sows and a boar. We are building 5 cinderblock pig pens, writing a care and breeding manual, and putting together a business plan for Anna and Ernesti to follow so that when we leave, they will be able to raise and sell the pigs at the market. This project will not only provide a more nutritious diet for the children, but it will allow for Anna and Ernesti to raise money to help even more children in the community.

Here are some step-by-step pictures of our first day working on this project. My favorite part was cutting down the banana trees. You could cut through a whole tree with one swipe of the machete. Awesome. (This blog was written by Austin)

Taking out the Banana Trees. Jared, Matt, Faith, Austin and helpers

Faith and Courtney working magic with the machetes

Lauren and Faith

Austin holding a bunch of bananas from the trees we cut down. We ate these later. :)

Courtney, Lauren, Spear and Aust leveling the ground.

The whole gang (except me, Milla) :)

Stacy, Tanya and Jaclyn.

Anna (the woman who runs the orphanage) made us fried bananas and avocado slices after our hot, long day of working. But, it was so worth it!

Snakes, Lakes and Jungles

Last weekend we visited a snake park and a Maasai museum. The best part about the whole experience was our guide, Flank (they sometimes mix up R’s and L’s so we figure his name is actually Frank). He took us through the snake park and spoke about each snake with such seriousness and intensity. He made even the not-poisonous snakes seem scary. He said the most hilarious things like, “this snaky cannot bite only once. This snaky can only bite… often Often OFTEN!” Another funny Flank quote was, “This snaky is not poison. So, if this snaky biten you, stop shouting”. HAHA! We still quote him all the time. We saw some pretty cool snakes as well as tortoises and crocodiles. At the end of the tour we got to hold a snake. As Flank wrapped the snake around my neck he said, “Don’t worry. This snaky won’t biten you. This snaky only kills by squeezing.” He sure knows how to comfort a girl.

Right after this turtle was on my head it started peeing. Close call, huh?

Yesterday we rode a dala dala out to Lake Duluti, which is a lake in the crater of a volcano. We took a hike around the entire lake and saw some really cool wildlife. Of course nothing like what we’ll see on a safari, but still cool nonetheless.
There was even one point on the trail where there were dozens of velvet monkeys swinging above and all around us. They were pretty angry because of a dog that was on the trail. Thanks, puppy! Austin thought the coolest part of the whole lake trail was a huge long trail of army ants.... yeah. Ants. We also saw some Monitor Lizards which are poisonous lizards that get as big as 6 feet long. Cool, huh?

Well.... that's all, folks! Kwaheri until next time!

P.S. This is Spear. He is our translator/friend and his wife is our cook. He basically ROCKS! :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hujambo from Tanzania!

Imagine you’re flying in a small, rickety plane, overlooking jungles and red deserts and all of a sudden you’re facing a huge mountain that is taller than the 20,000 ft. of elevation you’re flying at. That is exactly what we saw when we approached Mt.Kilimanjaro and started our descent for the Kilimanjaro airport. It definitely got us excited for the amazing summer that is ahead of us.

We live in a small village just outside of Arusha, Tanzania near the base of Mt. Meru. It is seriously BREATH TAKING here! We walk up and down red, muddy roads surrounded by the most green, lush jungle. The kids love to run out and greet us in Swahili. The people are so friendly here.

We’ve settled in and are getting pretty accustomed to using Tanzanian Shillings and riding the dala dalas. We also have a good start on project planning and such. Our country directors, Tyler and America Nelson, did an AMAZING job before we got here at finding contacts and potential partners for our service work here.

One of our contacts is a man named Ernest. Ernest lost his wife to HIV/Aids. He and his young daughter are both positive as well. Here in Africa there is a stigma that a person with HIV/Aids is basically useless and just waiting to die. But, Ernest has tried to fight this stigma and help others who are positive as well. He and a woman named Anna started an orphanage to support children and struggling families. Anna lost her husband because he was positive and too ashamed to seek medical attention. Most people who have HIV/Aids are embarrassed or afraid so they keep it a secret and sometimes die because they won’t receive treatment. We have a few potential projects with the orphanage which include starting a pig farm, building all the pens and teaching the children how to care for the animals in order to receive revenue and support the orphanage financially and make it self-sustainable.

That is just one of many projects we are going to be working on. We're also working with special needs children at a school called Step-by-Step, teaching business, working with HIV positive groups, teaching English, and so many other projects as well. We’ll give more updates as we get more time.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Foggy Day in London Town!

Fish 'N Chips!

Big Ben

Buckingham Palace

London was rainy, foggy and absolutely BEAUTIFUL! We had a great time running from site to site trying to capture as much as possible in our short visit. We were pretty impressed with ourselves at just how much we actually squeezed into the agenda and how much use we put into our train pass. We even had time to find a great place with Fish 'N Chips which is our favorite thing ever! Anyway, enjoy the pics!