Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rift Valley Children's Village

In 2003, founder India Howell began her dream of the Rift Valley Children's Village. After six years, the dream and the village have grown to 69 young Tanzanians living in five houses: Serengeti, Manyara, Rubondo, Mkumi, and Kiran. Beautifully situated just outside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the village is surrounded by green hills of coffee plantations, purple jacaranda trees, and pink bougainvillea flowers. During our stay, Temple lived in Manyara House and Clay stayed in Serengeti House assisting the mamas and attempting to communicate in Swahili.

Early every morning, we were awoken by the sound of bunk beds and chairs being drug across the floor. Sitting together around a large table the kids eat breakfast, either PB&J or porridge called ugi, then complete their morning chores. Around 7:00 am uniforms are on and the short walk to school begins. The kids are surprisingly perky as they drag yawning volunteers down the road. While the older kids were at school, we spent the morning with playgroup, 2-3 year olds, in Rubundo House. After their morning naps, they are joined by the pre-schoolers, 4-5 year olds, to play in the library, coloring, building legos, and climbing all over volunteers. 12:30 is saa kula, lunch time.

In the afternoon, Temple was in charge of pre-school kids. She'd take them on nature walks, draw with sidewalk chalk or play games. While helping Temple with pre-school, Clay tutored/played with Elibaraka, a really bright 4-year old who loves math and puzzles.

At the end of the day is free play. This is a time for controlled chaos with older kids coming back from school and the little ones running about. After returning home for bath time, the kids eat a snack of egg and bread, then watch a movie. We'd eat dinner with the kids if they were having chapati, but normally we'd eat in the volunteer house then return for story time and to say goodnight.

Our days followed this pattern but every one was special. The kids welcomed us into their lives so quickly and with so much love. On the first day, we realized that three weeks would not be long enough but we made the most of every moment and every friendship in this unforgettable place.


Addie said...

So magical! Their smiles are wide!! I love it. I can't wait to hear more stories about each of the special kids! I know they miss yall!

foster said...

What happy eyes!

biddy said...

Didn't you want to bring one of those children home!! ther were so adorable