11 May 2015

i think it's time for a party.

Lots o' things have been happening in the life of Ashley and Michael these days, as we've taken on the move to a new house. Painting, fumigating, electric work - you name it, we've been busy making it happen. Last weekend, though, we took a day to say good-bye to the kids in our first neighborhood who were a big part of our lives.


We're pretty sure they enjoyed it, too.


We decided to take nine of our neighborhood kiddos to a beautiful resort in Mwanza called Malaika Beach, where there's a playground... one of two playgrounds in the entire city! When we first walked in, the kids' reaction was pure shock and awe. I'm sure they had never seen anything like it. They acted afraid to touch anything or go far from us. But after 15 minutes, they realized the possibilities and jumped right in.


Maria, pictured below, comes from a family of three. She, her two much younger brothers, Yusuph and Eze, and her mom lived right next door to us in a mud-brick home. Whenever I ran into Maria in the neighborhood, she was always extremely courteous and respectful. As opposed to most adults, Maria never treated me differently. Naturally, she became one of my favorites.


Maria's story is similar to so many young Tanzanian girls. Her father died within the last couple of years so her mom relies on her to carry a heavy housework load as well as to take care of her two younger brothers. She's still in school, a fact which makes me very grateful, but I only wonder how much longer she'll be able to make it, before her responsibilities at home take her away from her education.


The other adorable child in the picture is Gloria, who both Michael and I would kidnap if we had the chance. Her mother, Miriam, worked in the hair salon attached to our house and we quickly became friends. Miriam is now in the process of opening up her own hair salon and is involved with Michael's savings and loaning program in order to make that happen.


This is "J.", short for January. Yep, January (and basically anything else you can think of) works as a boy's name here in Tanzania. J.'s mom, Alfonsina, used to make street food outside of our house, so we became fast customers of hers. She's also extremely friendly. Alfonsina, her husband, and J. just moved into a cement brick home from one that was mud-brick, so we were happy to see that.


Here are two more brothers: Moche and Fabi. Moche has a bit of a rebel streak in him. He was in a religious education class when he heard about us having our party so he snuck out in order to come! Michael and I lovingly referred to Fabi as our "problem child." He was a classic three-year-old. If he didn't get exactly what he wanted, out came the crying and fits! He learned the Leen Machine was not okay with that and he adjusted (somewhat).



Our other problem child, Pili, looks so spiffy in her Easter dress! Pili, which means the second child in Kiswahili, had a lot of attitude and thought it proper to be the boss of every kid all the time. She was also brought up in a family where calling foreigners "mzungu" is normal, so we worked hard to break her of that habit. She, like most other young girls, was often seen with someone else's baby on her back.


Mwambula and Nyaki, chowing on some candy, round out our neighborhood gang. Mwambula's a great kid - quiet, respectful, and very smiley. Nyaki was a troublemaker but pretty good-natured. My favorite part about him was his wave. When Michael and I were going to and from the house, he would put up his palm, like an old stereotypical Native American chief, with absolutely no smile and stay like that until we were out of sight. It cracked me up every time!


Oh, and we had some fun too!


After hours on the playground, soda, and candy, it was time to call it a day. We will miss these kids so much, who've truly become a part of our daily lives here in Tanzania, but we're looking forward to meeting even more great kids where we end up next. As always, we are extremely grateful to our donors, without whom a celebration like this would not have been possible.

If you'd like to contribute to our work, including the relationships we build with the children in our local community, please donate to our tax-deductible account through Maryknoll Lay Missioners!

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