Hyenas and bats and scorpions, oh my.

Flew to Mwanza Tanzania where I was greeted by Aimee, a colleague from Maine who founded the Africa Schoolhouse project with my friend Carol Ann.  GO Campaign is building a clinic and a resource center next to the school.  We first had lunch overlooking Lake Victoria in Mwanza.  Delicious fresh tilapia from the lake, served Indian masala style.  Mwanza is called Rock City – it has giant rock formations that pop up all over the place, including from the lake.  It's as if some giants were trying to pile stones on top of each other and these formations are what they left behind.  We saw more on the way to the village, including some with vervet monkeys hanging out on them.  En route to the village, I stopped to buy mosquito nets as a gift to the village.  TGO TV I a new website) gave me $250 and a flip camera to go do good in the world.  I decided I would spend the $250 over 3 countries on this trip and see what I could do.  When Aimee mentioned that children in the village were dying of malaria and that a net could save lives, I decided to buy 20 nets.  Each net can cover 4 kids.  For $80 we're potentially saving the lives of 80 children.  A no brainer.
Since GO is building a clinic, Aimee wanted me to see the nearest hospital, which is quite a distance from the village.  We met the priest who runs it, and I asked him to give me a tour of the children's ward.  There were about 20 children there, all under 5, many with malaria.  The moms sat by their babies looking so worried.  Some of the smaller ones looked like they might not make it, but hopefully they will rebound.  I got one little one to smile and laugh every time I zoomed in my nose close to his.  Always good when you can make a sick child laugh.
We didn't make it to the village till after sunset, so we needed flashlights.  There's no electricity in the village.  You should see the stars in the sky – amazing. Aimee had bought a mattress and sheets, so I didn't have to sleep on the hut floor.  Which was good, since she found a scorpion in her side of the hut the next morning.  In addition there was a bat in the outdoor "toilet" area ( a hole in the ground, in the middle of a hut).  The bat was just hanging there, watching everyone do their business.  Aimee said sometimes bats are hiding down in the hole, and they fly up when you are squatted down over the hole.  Imagine a bat flying up your butt!  I did imagine it, and it was a bad thing to do.
I have not gone to the bathroom in over 32 hours.
There was also a cute little praying stick bug hopping around us at dinner.  I will try to post a photo somewhere though I'm not sure I brought the right cord to download from my camera. (Yes I did because I tested in in Zurich… will have to figure this out later. So hopefully pictures to come…)
I slept remarkably well (I did not hear the hyenas roaming the area nor any other sound, )then in the morning it was time to present the gifts.  Before the gift giving, the village members performed songs, played drums, and there was a naming ceremony for me.  My new name is Manzaga.  They explained (in Sukuma, which a chief translated into Swahili for me) that Manzaga was a former king who lived up over the hills.  They pointed to the exact spot where he lived.  I waved goodbye and started heading toward the mountain, telling them I needed to get home.  They thought that was hysterical.  Apparently I'm a regular Swahili and Sukuma comedian.  I presented the nets (video will be posted on TGO TV) and then they made me dance – by myself.  I refused, but said only if others joined me.  So some of the guys came up, and I thought they were going to teach me a dance – but they wanted it the other way around!  I suddenly had no idea what to teach them.  The cha-cha? Disco? The macarena? I opted for a sort of Latin-Africa step and we had quite a line dance going.  I wish I had thought of teaching them the Rockettes kick – that would have been good.  Maybe next time.
I then toured the school site, where they have already built classrooms and teach homes, and where GO built a well.  I saw the spots for the future clinic and resource center, and I interviewed one of the teachers and some of the children, and took lots of photos. The village members have great pride in the project and they're all very excited for the opening of the school. I promised them Manzaga would return for the opening of the clinic next year. You all should come with me.