Tanzania time

Today everything was on "Tanzania time"  (In Malawi, they call it "Malawi time", etc.)  It means no one was on schedule. Everyone was late – You'd call someone and they'd tell you they were just 5 minutes away when in fact they were 40 minutes away…. Everything was askew.  People in Tanzania don't like to give you an answer that might disappoint you (or cause you to go somewhere else), so they usually tell you what they think you want to hear, which often bears little resemblance to the truth. You need to ask two or three times in different ways before you can squeeze the truth out of people. Usually it's fine, but some days it can be exhausting. This was particularly true when one of my taxis ran out of gas in the middle of a cornfield out in the middle of nowhere. I wasn't upset – just tired. I didn't even bother to ask when help would come because I knew I wouldn't get the truth anyway. Eventually it came.
I visited the kindergarten that GO supports – the kids had practiced welcome songs to sing for me and had learned my name in advance. Very sweet. They loved having their pictures taken – They rushed me like bulls in Pamplona, saying "Now me, Now me!"  Anytime I pulled out the camera, no matter how sly I tried to be, a herd of kids would come running right at me. The kindergarten needs a lot of help – The teacher doesn't even get paid – She does it for free, because she knows how important it is to the kids and to the community. She's hopeful the school will have enough money to pay her at some point.  Most of the kids are orphans living with relatives – most have lost their parents to AIDS.
I joined the kids in having a mug of porridge. It sticks to your ribs.
After the kindergarten I went to visit Emmanuel – one of the first kids I met in Africa in 2005. He used to be at TunaHAKI but was booted out a couple years ago. I found him at his school. When we asked him if he was happy, he said no but didn't elaborate. When we asked his brother (a younger but healthier and taller brother whom I had never met) to elaborate, he said Emmanuel sometimes gets hit by his uncle, and sometimes has to sleep outside. We also noticed boils on Emmanuel's leg which have gone untreated and need medical attention. His clothes looked shabby too.  Emmanuel started crying silently, his head down, unable to look up.  He was trying to be strong, but he just couldn't hold back the tears. I told him not to worry and that I'd make sure he gets to a boarding school. Boarding schools use English, so Emmanuel will have to go back a few grades in order to be on the same level, but this is common in Tanzania. No one minds repeating grades or going back a few years. His other brothers (Abdul and Sadik) have been neglectful in visiting Emmanuel, and they feel remorseful, and they are going to step up and be the big brothers they should be and make sure to get out to the rural area where Emmanuel lives so they can check on him more often. And eventually I will get him to a boarding school, but that will take time. He said he's been getting B's at school, which I was surprised to hear – I love him, but I was under the impression he was not the most studious of children, so I was happily surprised. He said he would be very happy to go to boarding school. The other brother seems to have a happier home life.  He's lived there since he was an infant, whilst Emmanuel was living on the streets and then at TunaHAKI and then returned to the Uncle later in life, so I guess the Uncle doesn't have the same connection to him or doesn't like him for whatever reason. Sad.  But he'll be ok. I'll make sure.
The neighborhood where he lives is stuck in time. The buildings are half thatched huts, half brick buildings. I don't mean half are one, half are another – I mean many buildings were half and half.  Half made with mud and straw… then some sticks and mud on another exterior wall… then bricks on another part. It's a real hodgepodge village.
I heard that the kid who stole my money last week was found in a "movie theatre".  (A small room or hut where videos are shown for a small entry fee.)  The kids from Tuseme hunted him down and they took off his new shoes and made him walk to Tuseme to admit his guilt. They also made him go into the river with all his clothes on as punishment.  I feel bad, but I guess it could be worse.  I remember a few years ago when a street kid stole a chicken from someone, and he was caught in the act and the neighbors mobbed him and killed him.  So I guess a dunk in the river is not so bad.  The kid has some local doctor who is his sponsor, and the doctor has promised to pay half the money back, not that I want it.  Aside from the movie theatre, my guess is most of the funds went to shoes and other things he needed for school, but I guess he needs to learn not to steal because that could lead to a much tougher life ahead. So, while sad, let's hope the whole mess prevents him from getting into bigger messes in the future.
I only have 2 days left in Moshi.  Still a bunch of stuff to do.  Tonight I ate street food – chicken, roasted corn cobs, and something they call pizza which is nothing like pizza (egg and meat and vegetable inside a pastry). As I ate, I watched the locals do their business. One amusing thing I've noticed is that you can tell the meter maids you don't want to pay the parking fees. You just tell them "No, I'll pay you later". Imagine doing that in America.
Abdul told me something has been on his mind quite a bit. He didn't understand why there are so many rich people in the world who don't help others, and he can't understand why someone like me who isn't rich spends so much time helping children. It doesn't make any sense to him. I explained that many people think the way to happiness is to help others, and that money often just brings headaches, and I was able to give him some examples. I could see the light bulb go off in his head, and he smiled.