dragoness (dragonbec) wrote,

Part 6: Makumira University and it's students + driving!

The thing that made Daris want to come here to Tanzania was the people.  The students at the university are generous, caring, resourceful, and strong.  Most have overcome obstacles in their lives that are unimaginable to Americans just to be there.  Daris knew she wanted to go to Makumira University and teach and help these students succeed and improve the lives of them and their families.  She made it happen through a Fulbright grant and both her and Tom have been teaching music there all year and working to improve the facilities and music program there.

Thursday night Daris was invited to a party at Hezron's house. He is a former university student, a Maasai elder, and a choir director of an award winning Tanzanian choir that has performed around Tanzania and even in Germany. They said it would be fine for Mike and I to tag along to the party. Tom bravely took on all 5 kids and took them out to dinner while we headed over to the party.

We rode with Randy and picked up a few random swedish girls as we drove through town that were coming to visit the university. We got to take a "delightful" ride through town. This is just something Americans would NEVER understand. It is a general suggestion that you drive on the left side of the road. Though often when people want to pass they just pull out into the oncoming lane without really checking if it's clear, they expect the oncoming car to move over but there are bikes, pedestrians, motorcycles, and guys pushing big hand carts full of anything from lumber to bananas to chickens on the shoulder and then a dala dala (bus) pulls out from it's stop and pretty soon you are six vehicles wide across the two lane road. The dala dalas are like minivans with seats for 10-12 but have 20-30 people packed in them, some barely hanging out the door. The motor bikes can have any number of people teetering on them as they are zipping in and out of traffic, going on the correct side of the road only if convenient. When you need to turn onto a road there is rarely a stop sign so if the traffic is busy you just have to find someone who looks the least likely to run you down and pull out in front of them, or wait for the person in front of you to do that and then just go while the car has slowed down. Once you get off the main roads you feel less like you are going to crash and more like your car is going to shake apart into pieces or disappear completely into a hole. It struck me as complete and total chaos but somehow the majority of people manage to get where they are headed.

Daris and I getting ready to head out in Randy's car.

Randy is the director of the music department at Makumira University. He and his family are so amazing in all that they are doing for this school. They have been at the university for 5 years working along with minimal support and have done amazing things there. They are trying to get some of the Tanzanians that are completing their bachelors degrees there to go and get masters degrees so that they can come back and become teachers at the university. The department could become more self sufficient. Randy has an amazing blog chronicling all the amazing things they have done in their time in Tanzania.

The party was very nice, Hezron appeared to be fairly well off by Tanzanian standards. We were served roasted goat with soup, salad, and sides. We sat at a table with a man named Sululu who just had the most amazing tales to tell. He is a Maasai and grew up in a traditional Maasai village. He was one of just a few boys from all the 7 surrounding villages to go off to secondary school. He had to walk around 50km through the bush to get to a road where he could catch a bus to the school. One of the times the boys were making this trek they were followed by a lion and had to wait and try to distract it for a long time and luckily eventually a zebra came that distracted it so they could finish their walk. A few years ago Sululu came to Makumira and then got his bachelors of music at Makumira. Last fall he was accepted to get his masters at University of Northern Illinois and spent last year in school in Dekalb, Illinois! He is coming back this year to finish and then hopefully will head back to Makumira to teach there. It is hard for him to leave his family but important for him to get his education. I just can't imagine what it is like to go from living in a mud and stick hut to going to live outside of Chicago!

My goat and soup.  (actually pretty good!)

Mike and I with Sululu (actually taken later in the week)

Tags: tanzania

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