Thursday, December 3, 2009

Manyara House

The Manyara boys are the big men on campus. The younger kids of the village look up to them and it's no mystery why. They are cool, smart, funny and loyal, making a great team.

Saidi is the leader of the house, telling others what to do and maintaining his tough-guy image despite an impossibly sweet grin. Benja is the ham. He loves to crack jokes but also to assert his authority. Although he's small, Swedi takes after his big brother Saidi, and is very mature for his age. Jackie tends to be a little shy except for on the soccer field. Then there is Abdul, the charming, sensitive one. He loves reading and has the best smile in the village. Silly Yusufu, as the youngest boy, gets pushed around quite a bit. James, inquisitive and sarcastic, always has something on his mind. The boys are eager to learn new things, whether its a story from a history book or a dance from Step It Up the movie. They are responsible, always completing their chores without being asked and having fun in the process. Each one is more than willing to take care of baby January whenever he's out of the Mamas' arms. Together the Manyara men are a charming act and constant entertainment.

Along with the boys, there are three sweet girls living in the house plus Neema who returns from high school during holidays, and who I hung out with during my last week. Edina is sassy and hard-headed. She takes good care of her younger sister Rehema who is smart, and so, mischievous. They are both adorable but Natalie takes the cake. Three years old and full of personality, I fell in love with her on day one. Immediately, she latched on to me and I to her, both of us crying when it was time to say goodbye.

Mama Priska is the main disciplinarian of the house. I visited her small, cozy home when I took some kids on a walk to pick peaches in her village. Mama Eliphas is Masaai and so has a shaved head and sings upbeat chants while playing with the baby. She loves teasing the kids and it is a joy to see her laugh. Both of them were so lovely to me. Also living in Manyara is young Melanie, who cooks a lot of the meals, and Elizabeth, the kindergarden teacher. I gave them typing lessons on my computer and we would stay up late watching Tanzanian soap operas. I appreciate these wonderful women and their joyful spirits.

I feel so blessed to have lived in Manyara for my three weeks at RCVC. On the last day of school when the students marched, I was so proud of all of them, especially Jackie for winning the best sportsmanship award and of Abduli for receiving best student overall. I am so impressed by the love and respect that these young people show for and expect of each other. Although they occasionally fight, the kids are quick to protect their cacas and dadas (brothers and sisters). They gave me a wonderful gift when they accepted me in and I am forever grateful.


foster said...

Sounds like a house full of personality and love!

Addie said...

I know you had a blast. I wish i could be there too! All those kids are lucky to know you too!

Jackie said...

Yay for Jackie! ;)