BACK IN MASSAÏ COUNTRY

FIRST STEPS OF THE ASSOCIATION MTOTOSCHOOL

Several months of work following the creation of the MtotoSchool association. We are both at the head of the association and I have to find volunteers, prospective members, donors, so much things to do ... I can not go back, I promised this school to my Maasai friends and they will have it. My project interested a lot of people but I understand that I have to improve and that this school for Maasai children is not just a dream ... I must be credible if I want to find funds to build this school...I talk about my project around me and some time later I met Joëlle who intend to become a volunteer in the association. Joëlle is a gift for me, she helps me enormously, we organize big walk to increase contacts.


BACK IN TANZANIA

February 2016 : I'm back in Tanzania, not for a holiday under the sun but to meet pupils from the village of Sokoine, for which I created MtotoSchool association and settle some administrative tasks.
I arrive in Dar es Salaam, it is almost midnight and warmth greets me right out of the airport, what fun ! Emmanuel is also here to welcome me happy meeting ! I spend the night in a hotel where the heat is stifling and where I hear the prayers throughout the night, not easy to rest !
Some small hours of sleep is enough and I am finally ready to go to Sokoine village, I can not wait more to see my family and students Maasai village !...After taking a taxi, we get Emma and me to the bus station in Dar es Salaam for a bus. Upon our arrival it was the crowd around us ! "Mzungu, mzungu !!" Men see a European, and therefore want to take my bags to guide me to a bus for receiving a tip. Emma is forced to intervene to calm them down because they argue my suitcases between them... We find a bus via Morogoro, we settle for a trip of 4 hours. 
Men are next the windows to sell drinks and food, it is the frenzy in the bus station. I put myself in the place of these men and tell to myself that they are deserving of doing what they do under the scorching sun... all this to earn so little money...
The bus starts and I enjoy every moment because I know that these 2 weeks in Tanzania will flow at breakneck speed...
MOROGORO - TANZANIA

I see scrolling landscapes of Africa, the colors are bright. I admire the contrast between vegetation and ocher, beautiful ! Vehicles drives at high speed and commit offenses but it is normal here... I understand that the horn is necessary for drivers !.... Instead of braking when a pedestrian crosses the road we honk to hurry it, when we overtake another vehicle with difficulty,it is the same... it honks to be let doubling ... and the bus passengers' eyes are straight ahead, watching the oncoming vehicle in front....! Every moment I hear whispering the word "Mzungu" on the bus. I am the event of the day. The bus made a stop and Emma propose to buy a soda to cool, it's so hot, I accept gladly. 

The bus restarts, I open my soda and.... oooohhhh misfortune... the bus goes over a bump without slowing down, my drink is "shaken" I try somehow to retain the foam which escapes my bottle but impossible ! The unfortunate passenger in front of me is sprinkled with soda... He is not very happy, Emma explains what happened but nothing to do... The man winces...a good start in Tanzania ! It is not with this man I will become friend !

MOROGORO BUS STATION


We arrive at the bus station in Morogoro. On this site there are sellers of necklaces, shoes, hats, everything is so colorful. 

We leave our bus this time finding a taxi that will take us up Sokoine, another trip of 2 hours and finally I'll be at the Maasai village.

SOKOINE VILLAGE - MOROGORO REGION

Sokoine

We finally arrive in the village of my friends ! My Maasai family changed place of residence, the prévious house was located in a rather barren place, I prefer this new place. Everything is green, there are trees everywhere, the river side of the house, cows, goats, chickens, puppies... It's great, a change of scenery ! 

Mama comes running to welcome me, we are happy to see us after these past two years... Nelson, her little 5 year old grandson, who will become my sponsorchild, is coming to meet me and to say hello. 

I have left cookies in my bag. I distribute it to Mama, Nelson and other children who joined us. They appreciate a lot ! Once completed, they tell me "biscouti !" But I have none... When I will return to town I will buy them cookies...

Other family members are joining us, I'm so happy to see everyone, Edward and his wife, Mali, Jeremia... The Maasai people living nearby come to greet me and it's nice to see that everyone greet me warmly... 

I go in the house of Mama to put my luggage and I smell of the wood fire in the main room that serves as kitchen, my life among the Maasai starts now ...

MAMA
NELSON AND HIS FRIENDS
NELSON

The whole family is kind with me in this little house, they are so friendly and want me to feel well at home. They offer me a stool, others offer me a cup of sweet milk, daily drink of the Maasai, Mama is cooking banana pudding we bought before arriving at the village, very good ! Everyone asks me questions about my trip, how was it on the plane, if I'm not too tired... 

They talk to each other in Swahili and I regret not having had time to learn their language... 

It's time to go to bed, I'll share the bed with the wife of Edward and Nelson, my sponsored child, in a small house which is located just next Mama house.

It is 5 am and I see a light outside. It is Mama who uses her flashlight to go to the herd of cows for milking and then go to Morogoro to sell milk. She will come back in evening... I fall asleep a little and wake up one hour later... Cows, goats pass near the window of the house, it is time for them to go to eat in the forest ! I approach the window and watch them, they are so near from me... It's good to be awakened in this way ! 

Nasra and Nelson are still sleeping, I decide to go in search of a quiet place with my bucket of rain water to take a shower...

At 6 am, there is not yet big people outside, I find a small place near the river. I choose the tree that can withstand my toiletries, my towel...perfect ! Not easy for a first time, just a matter of organization, it will be better tomorrow...

UGALI WITH VEGETABLES AND MEAT

Back at home, I find Nelson who is already awake and who tries to catch with a stick one of his shirt extended on a wire ! 5 years and already resourceful ! He puts his shirt and looks at me, proud of him, making me a big smile, I think he adopted me ! We are heading both to the house of Mama, his stepdaughter is cooking the milk and cook ugali, which is the staple food in East Africa (cooked corn flour water and then agglomerated like a ball. The ugali is a simple food to make and affordable to the people in need. Generally, ugali is accompanied by vegetables and meat in sauce but can consume it with a cup of sweet milk . Sometimes I eat ugali simply with milk, when the stock of food is scarce, then you should take a bite of ugali, a sip of milk and swallow the whole).

Emmanuel joins us, we take our breakfast. The milk is very sweet, different from the milk you drink in France ! Chickens, puppies, flies want to participate in our meal, not easy to eat in peace ! Nelson speaks to me in Swahili, I regret so much not speak his language ! I know a few words, but it's not enough. Fortunately, Emma is there to make the translator...

Breakfast over, we are ready to go to church, Nelson will meet Lusajo, his teacher and I'll take the opportunity to meet him and the pupils.

To go to church we take a small path through the forest, everything is green, we hear cows, goats. Left and right, there are small houses, identical of Mama's house, and women are outside, washing their clothes, sorting vegetables. They straighten their heads as I pass and I hear "Mzungu !" and I say "Jambo !" to say hello in their language. They are happy to see that I know some words in Swahili and Emmanuel says I am welcome here in the village. 

Children play in the forest and I ask to Emmanuel why they are not in school. He explained that according to some parents, the school is not necessary for their children... This is where the role of Lusajo, the teacher who volunteers in the church, is important. When he finished his work day, he visits families and explain to parents why it is important to allow their children to go to school. Lusajo manages to recruit one new student each week. 

It is 9:00 and the sun is already hot, cows are lying in the shade, we make our move them to continue our way ! We come to church, Lusajo works with children. I'm a little intimidated because what I'm going through is very important. I will find myself facing children and their teacher who expect a lot from me and I suddenly realize that what I have set up in France for almost a year now becomes real. I am going to meet all these children that I saw through the photos that Emma and Lusajo sent to me... there are no words to express what I feel ... We enter quietly and I say hello to Lusajo I still do not know but with whom I communicated often by mail. Students discover the mzungu who wants to build their school and they smile from ear to ear... Lusajo calls the students one by one for the presentations, they're all intimidated, they have never seen a white woman. Then they place all round, me in the middle, and some students have paper in their hands, "Welcome Sandrine", "Thank you for the gifts you bring us", "We need a school"... lot of emotions... I open my bag filled with gifts, pencils, pens, notebooks, balloons, candy and Lusajo and children are more than happy !

I look around me and realize under what circumstances Lusajo works with his students. They have a roof, for sure, but for any material they have church benches and a board... Yet these children want to learn and meet each day their teacher to church... On behalf of the MtotoSchool Association we bought some school supplies, a board with the alphabet and numbers, different books on anatomy, mathematics, English, Swahili... they hadn't any of that ...Children are a little dissipated, they are so happy about gifts they have received ! Lusajo decides to group them and make them sing a song he created in the name of MtotoSchool. What pride in children's eyes when they sing their song to me !

We agree, Lusajo, Emmanuel and me for the next day. We need to make a picture about each child and meet their personal information to find their sponsor who will support them during their studies. We still do not have the financial means to build a school but we can now help children work in reasonable conditions. 

I go home to Mama with Nelson and Emmanuel mid-afternoon. We are a little hungry because we have not eaten since this morning. Women are there, one who makes a Maasai bracelet, another breastfeeding her baby, Mama that sorts the vegetables...

I go to greet Mama that I have not seen and Emmanuel intend to do it so under the Maasai rites. When we say "hello" to an older person we must approach this person, looking down (which is a form of respect), Mama puts her hand on my head and said "Yeyoo" I tell her "EOO" she told me "Takwenya" and me "Iko" and she burst out laughing ! Emmanuel told me that her mother is very happy that I salute her in this way ! 

Emmanuel speaks of our day to church and women listen attentively, our project interests many people in the village.

It starts to rain, we go into the house of Mama, goats and puppies too... They warm up by the fire ! 

The sun sets and other family members returned to turn. I think this is an opportunity to distribute the gifts I have brought for each one.I open my bags and I feel the excitement around me... A fleece blanket for Mama (yes, we are in Africa, but it happens to be cold !), beads and accessories for making jewelry , mobile phones I've managed to get before leaving, soap, toothbrushes, some games for Nelson, a photo album of my first stay with them ....

After a good night's sleep, up at dawn... with cows ! Small toilet in nature, a mug of milk and on the way to school ! Today I go alone with Nelson and Naitoi, a little girl who lives next our home. This is the second time I go at church, I think I remember the way, but I trust in the children .... After a quarter of an hour I understand that we are not on the right path, we should already be at church ! I call Nelson and tell him "school ?" and he looks at me smiling... oh no, he does not understand me... I see a Maasai woman away and I sai "Lusajo  ? Church? School ?" (Help, no one understands me !). But she shows me the way, we made quite a detour.... I think the children had rather want to walk with me ! 
I arrive at the church and apologize to Lusajo... Then we begin the photo session for each child, it is the total excitement for them ! All this take a lot of time and I imagine the amount of work that I will have when i will return to France to present children who need to be sponsored... But it's for a good cause !
Emmanuel joins us and we take the opportunity to develop the organization of child sponsorship.
The following days are alike, also Lusajo, Emmanuel and I go back and forth to Morogoro to address administrative tasks, which takes a lot of time between transport and the long process ...
I still reserved for quiet days with my friends and we went to the "Maasai Market", where the Maasai gather to sell or buy livestock, meat, fruits and vegetables, clothings, shoes, beads, snuff... we ate kebabs bananas fired with small pieces of meat (delicious), chapatis ..
.I gave a balloon to the Maasai man of the village because they could no longer practice their favorite sport ! 
I met an adorable little girl albino. I think she must feel that she is different because she was very shy with other people. I took her in my arms and she touched my skin, seeming to say, "Well ? We're the same !". I will try to bring her sunglasses and a hat the next time, she struggled to open her eyes with the sun and her head already has stains... 
I tried to milk a cow ... I was not still leave without doing it ! All Maasai milk the cows so me too ! Result, just a cup base, I'll do better next time....I also attended a religious ceremony in which all members of the village were present in church, shivering when the Maasai women started to sing all together !...
After that night, I returned at home at night with Mama, it was the last before I left for Dar-Es-Salaam ...
I have to go to France, my family is waiting for me.
The next morning, I drink my last pint of milk ... Nelson is next to me, he does not leave me an inch... He speaks Swahili, Emmanuel which is next says "Nelson asks you if you go back today ? ". I answer "Ndiyo" (yes). Emmanuel says that Nelson does not want me to go back... very difficult time for everyone. We leave the house, everyone with me and Nelson takes my hand, he tells to Emmanuel that he goes with me in Europe... I did not imagine that he could attach to me in this way, and vice versa ... We arrive at the road and all the Maasai friends, to whom I bought the balloon, are there to say goodbye. Very difficult moment but I enjoy. I think, at that moment, to all the people who put me on guard, knowing that I was going alone in Tanzania... It is this image that I want to bring them on my return, this group of young Maasai surrounding me friendly for a last goodbye, I could not be more safer than with them ...The bus arrives, bye everybody and see you soon ...

THE ROAD TO FRANCE AND MUCH HOPE FOR CHILDREN
I sit on the bus and I look back on these past two weeks. I am sad to leave Sokoine but happy because I'm going back to France with new photos for the project from the association and I sincerely hope to sensitize people with my testimony concerning children. (Click to watch video) . I know I'll still have to work very hard because this is only the beginning, but I promised to the children, Lusajo and Emmanuel that I will find the money to build the school. Soon my mtoto, you'll soon have your sponsors, you may be sure, and I hope that during my next visit to Sokoine we will buy all together the land that we covet to establish our school ...
Created by SANEMMA PHIL