6 February, so impatient to fly to the Maasai country. My suitcases are packed full of school supplies and gifts for children. I one week i will be among them and i will give them gifts, they will be euphoric !

I created activities for them from the montessori method, it will be a discovery for them. They will have pens, felts, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, gifts from different people.

I also have planned games like 1, 2, 3, sun. So much to do with them, I think that these 2 weeks will pass very fast.

Saturday, February 11, I fly to Sokoine, I have tears in my eyes coz i will meet my Nelson, his family and other children. I arrive Sunday afternoon in Dar es Salaam, the trip is so long... But i am happy to meet Emma at the exit of the airport. I go to the hotel to rest and tomorrow a new trip by bus is waiting for me.

Monday 13 February, the weather is very hot, more than the last year it seems to me. Emma and I take a taxi to the bus station in Dar es Salaam. Once we get out of the taxi, as usual, we are surrounded by luggage carriers. Emma negotiates with one of them and we go to our bus.

There is air conditioning, so good ! The bus starts, I'm so impatient to be at Sokoine.

We arrive in Morogoro and we have to find a taxi that will bring us to the village. There are minivans that could bring us but we are so impatient to arrive at destination that we take a taxi which will go faster.

The taxi enters in the village and we arrive in front of the house of Emma's family. Nasra, the mother of my godson Nelson, comes to me, we weep for joy to meet us. I discoverer her baby, Mesiah (she was pregnant the last year when i was at Sokoine). To my great happiness he doesn't cry when he sees the mzungu !

Nelson isn't there, he's playing not far. Children go to find him, he runs and jumps into my arms. We are so happy to see us again...

All children pull mu 2 big suitcases to the house of Nelson, where i will live for around 2 weeks.

I am happy to meet my Massai family and my darling Nelson.

Tuesday, February 14, Jérémia, one of the family members, put my 2 suitcases on his motorcycle and brings it up to the Lusajo class. The children are ready, we have drunk our chai, we go to school. I don't know yet the way of the new class so i ask to Nelson "wapi ?" (where ?). "Huku" (here), showing me the way. The massai women who are out of their nyumbani (house) see me and i say "jambo !" (hello !). They are glad to see me again ! I look behind me and i realize that several children have joined us on the way. One child takes my bottle of water to help me, another takes my bag. These children are so helpful. I don't even need to ask them help... They all want to give me the hand, which makes walking difficult !

I meet young girls who go to their school, "shikamo" they telle me, I answer them "marahaba". There were few years ago, the younger ones, as a sign of respect for their elders, greeted them by kissing their feet ans saying "shikamo". The elder thanked them by saying "marahaba".

We arrive in the small class where Lusajo and children are working.

Lusajo and I are happy to meet us and children so excited to see the mzungu ! I recognize sponsored children and they are glad that I rememger their name.

I see that this place is very small, near the road, difficult to work in good conditions. It's really urgent we built them a great class. But for now it's better than nothing...

I sit on a bench among the children and Lusajo continues to teach. Children have eyes only for me, they touch my arms, my hairs, intriging for them this whit skin and long hairs !

Lusajo decides to give them recreation, no way to work...

We bring my 2 big suitcases to the court grounds and unpack the supplies i brought them.

Children are so happy, they have never seen a puzzle, so many pens, skipping ropes, activities to draw and count...

I also distribute balloons and cookies that my mom made especially for them. Distribution of toothbrushes and toothpaste. Lusajo wants to teach them oral hygiene among others (click to see the video). 

It's the time of the meal, a woman, who lives next to the class, cooks every day for children. She brings us a soup of beans, daily meal of children... When the days are more fruitful they are entitles in addition to rice or ugali. Their diet is not varied at all. They are meager but smiling despite everything...

We eat all together, children sitting on a mkeka, lusajo and me on a bench. I haven't yet finished my plate and I see Malaki approaching me... He is still hungry, I share my meal with him.

The class day ends, I help Lusajo to clean the classroom which is full of sand. He goes with me because i don't know yet the way that will lead me to my Nelson's house. I meet Nasra, Nelson and Mesiah ans spend a good evening with them. I offer a small music box to my Nelson and a rattle to Mesiah. They are so happy.

Wednesday, February 15, 6:00 am, the cows are shown for milking. No need to put the alarm clock at Sokoine ! Nasra gets up and goes directly into the enclosure to take the milk in her calabash.

I get up in my turn, the children, Nelson and Mesiah, are still asleep. I go to make a toilet. I go back home, Nelson is awake as well as Mesiah. Nelson dresses and I give them a banana, which they share, to start the day well. They rarely eat in the morning. Nelson is in heaven, i give him water too. It's not every day that he drinks mineral water, he rather drinks the wather from the river or rain but at this moment it's drought, difficult to find water... So Nelson often drinks chai.

7:15, it's time to go to school. It takes arount 15 minutes to go to class. The sun is already burning in the early morning.

Nelson gives me his hand, he wants to be with me all the time.

I settle with children and Lusajo makes them work. Today writing session. Children bring me their notebooks and they call me "mwalimu". They no longer call me mzungu but teacher now ! They ask me to correct their lines of writing.

Break. We go behind the class, in the shade and I teach them the game 1, 2, 3 sun. Not esay at the start but afterwards it was a nice game for them !

Meal time, bean soup... Once they have finished their meal, children go home, Nelson wants to stay with me because he knows that when i work with Lusajo I go home late and he doesn't se me much. But today i have to visit the families of our sponsored children to introduce me and take more informations about children and make some pictures.

Nelson goes home sulking... I would also like to stay with him but i have no choice. Lusajo and I walk in the sand under a sun of lead. I use my umbrella to protect myself from the sun because my skin is already burned. We arrive at the first family and we sit in the shade already exhausted.... I begin to talk to parents, Lusajo makes the translation. I want to make things clear, everyone thinks I'm rich. So I explain to them that it's not me who sponsor all children, the money doens't come from me but from various events that we organize in France. I tell them that if I was rich I wouldn't let children in this small room and the school would already be built... Parents understand my words. They are grateful for what we do for their children and thank sponsors. Without our help, their children wouldn't be able to go to school. Most parents don't work, the cause is often illness, disability... Or they work but the income is not enough. They are delighted that sponsors can come and visite them. Know that you will be welcome at Sokoine !

We continue our visit to families, for today we will stop at the 5th family, weather is too hot...

We go back home, night falls, children play outside. The air is cooler, it's good. Tired of their day, children fall asleep later out on the mkeka. They waited for the meal but they couldn't fight against tiredness... Nasra is cooking. She uses spices I brought her. She likes this new taste ! The massai women who enter in the house say that it smells very good.

We go to sleep, we are 4 in the bed, Nasra, Mesiah, Nelson and I, sometimes another another child is joining us. It's too hot in the house, impossible to sleep, i lack air...

Tuesday 16th February, awakening by cows as usual ! Same ritual, Nasra gets up, me too, children are still asleep. I'm going to make toilet. Today I go to Morogoro with Lusajo to buy a large pot for cooking pasta for children, plastic cups and plates. We will also buy some vegetables, cabbage, tomatoes, mini peppers. I want to offer a varied meal to children.

Lusajo will also buy new notebooks with money from MtotoSchool.

We are loaded, tired by the heat and we are starting to get hungry. Lusajo proposes to me to take a dala dala and to visit his sister who lives in Morogoro.

In Africa, people are very welcoming. You can arrive at any time of the day at their home, they offer us a mile with a big smile... Bean soup, rice and meat. I thank Lusajo's sister for her kindness and we take back a dala dala to return to the bus station to find a taxi to return to Sokoine.

Friday 17 February, Nasra seems sick but she gets up even for the milking. Many people are sick here, headaches, flu and coughs, children too. The weather cools at night because the rainy season should begin. I had the good idea to bring some medicines, paracetamol, syrup for children and thyme for herbal teas and fumigation... 

I give a banana and a cake to Nelson and Mesiah. I want them to eat something in the morning... Nelson follows me to do a bit of toilet, he enjoys to wash himself with my pocket shower. I show him how to brush his teeth. Mesiah, meanwhile, waits silently on the bed that his mother comes to take him.

It's time to go to school, Nemburissi leaves the empty belle because she woke up too late... We get to school, children are stuck to me. They like me to stroke their head and kiss them.

A small girl, Moita, is crying. I ask to Lusajo what happens to her, he tells me she is hungry. It brokens my heart to see that. She isn't the only one to come empty belly to schol. School is a way for them to have at least one meal in the day. I feel ashamed not to be able to distribute bananas and cakes that i have at home but I can't satisfy everyone... I help my sponsored child and his brother but i'm unable to help all children of the village...

Today puzzle activity, children must find the letter that corresponds to a word. They are happy to work in a fun way. The problem is that there isn't enough place in this room to work correctly. We have 15 sponsored children but Lusajo, who has a big heart, welcome more children. We agree that it's necessary to reduce the number of children, if he wants to provide them quality teaching and to benefit the material I have brought to them.

We organize a meeting with the parents of the children, explaining to them that it's better for the non-sponsored children to stay at home until we find a sponsor for them because the goal of MtotoSchool is to offer an education quality for children. Parents understand our words very well and are happy to see that we want the best for their children.

Once the class is finished we visit the 10 other families, we are tired but happy to have finished our work.

We cross a massai, Franky, he makes me understand that he is suffering from flu and he has a headache. I later brought him thyme and explained how to make a tea and a fumigation. I give him paracetamol also. 2 days later he comes to me to thank me because he is cured. Yes, I did the nurse too !!

Saturday, 18 February, big cleaning of the class with Lusajo. I store correctly all the accessories and supplies I have brought, pens, felts, pencils, scissors in plastic bottles. I make sensory bottles with water, pearls, sequins, feathers... I installe a small cloth shelf to put activities I created. A nice small class !

Now rest, I enjoy a bit of my Maasai family and children.

I need to buy fresh water. So I go by walking with Nelson, he shows me the way because I don't know where the shop is. Nelson is proud to guide me. We walked for 20 minutes and we finally arrive at the shop. I take my 2 bottles of water very fresh and I ask to Nelson what he wants to drink. He wants a fresh soda. We sit down to taste our drink, Nelson is happy. He likes being alone with me. I start to know several words in Swahili and we start communicating more easily and that's great. 

I hope that the next year I will be able to make sentences.

Nelson finished his soda, we return to the house. A maasai from the village who is with on a motorcycle sees us and offers to bring us back. So we are on the motorcycle, the maasai, Nelson and I ! After few minutes I realize that Nelson sees me in the rearview mirror and makes me grimaces, he is happy and it makes me wham in the heart.

We arrive at the house, Nasra is busy. I tell her that I'm going to shower children with my pocket shower. They are so happy ! This is the first time they wash in this way !

Nights falls and we learn that Jeremia, was put in jail because his cows have eaten a farmer's vegetable garden. The family has to contribute to compensate the farmer. Jeremia will be released from jail the next day.

This problem is common, farmers are increasingly encroaching on the pastoral land and it is difficult for maasai people to control the cattle... The next day, it's the same with the boy of the family, he was beaten by a farmer for the same reason. He went at hospital and when he came at home I used cream to relieve him because his leg was swollen because of the blows of sticks. He keeps telling me "asante Sandrine" (thank you). 

Maasai life is so difficult... Drought is already making life difficult for cows to feed, but on top of that, the maasai must pay attention to farmer's plantations...

A small girl who lives next to Nelson's home comes to see us, it's Moinan. She carries a baby on her back. It is a common thing, once the school is over, girls make housework, they are cooking and take care of children. This baby is handicapped. He lacked oxygen at birth and has a severed foot... What a misfortune...

Tonight it's very hot, too hot. The women prayed that God would bring them rain. Water in the river becomes scarce. No more water for drinking, showering or washing dishes and linen. The cows trampled the little water left in the river. It becomes serious...

We are lying in the shade of a tree on a mkeka, Nelson tells me "maji", he wants water. I'm going to get my bottle and he drinks it.

I cook bananas too ripe with sugar, they like it so much.

Sunday, 19 February, a beautiful day for children ! We are going to prepare a good meal for them. 

7:30, preparation of vegetables for 50 children, pilau rice, pasta, beans and cabbage. I sort the rice.

It's so exciting for children but also for people of the village. They asked if they could enjoy the meal too. We tell them that if there is food at the end then they can eat it. But in first children...

12:30, preparation of the meal finished.

We give food to children. They are happy to eat pasta and vegetables. I am happy but sad at the same time to see all those children eager to eat... I realize how urgent it is to help them. I only see smiles around me. It's a good day for them ! Once the meal is over, children go home and tell their parents that they have eaten in big quantities... Maasai people eat as soon as possible. Even if children had a big meal, they are able to eat again two hours later. They are so lacking in food that they "store" as much as possible. They are happy to see their belly rebound...

Day ended, Lusajo and I clean the area of the class.

We go home, Nasra is sick. She feel pain on all parts of her body and in the chest. She thinks it's malaria...

Night is going go fall, I want to wash the children. Lusajo helps me by keeping the baby in his arms and I go with tall chilren looking for water in the buckets. I realize that the water is muddy and doesn't smell good. I tell to children to stop, there is no question of using this water !

I feel desperate suddenly, Nasra is sick, no water to cook, no water to wash... But why their life is so hard ???!!! They don't deserve that, nobody deserves that...

I use my wipes to refresh the children and i cry, it's too unfair... Lusajo begs me to stop crying. He tells me that for me this is not normal but here in Tanzania this situation is normal. 

I go to give paracetamol to Nasra and i make a thyme tea for her.

I will not take a shower tonight. I go to sleep without eating, my mind is low and i am tired. Nasra is ferish so I prefer sleeping outside in front of the house on a mkeka to let her quiet and also not be sick in my turn. She may need me to take care of the children.

I sleep under the stars. I have never seen a starry sky like this. I have seen 3 shooting stars in one night !

Edward comes home a few moments and after he will go back into the forest with the cows. He asks me if I'm not afraid to sleep outside alone. No, I'm not afraid, I feel good...

Thunder rumbles tonight. I start hoping that the rain falls and I think it would be nice to make a well at Sokoine village for all the people...

Monday, 20 February, Lusajo and I go to Morogoro to finalize the purchases for the class. Before leaving I take my shampoo and my soap and I take advantage of being in town to go in a guest house and take a good shower...

Tuesday, 21 February, children discover the new layout of the classroom and the supplies stored in the furniture. They are happy. They have fun with sensory bottles. The sequins shine in the sun, fascinating for these children ! Today Lusajo shows them how to wash their teeth.

In a few minutes a great wind rises on Sokoine, the sky becomes menacing and we smell the rain... Suddenly it is the deluge. I went out in the rain and rubbed my arms and face to delate the dirt that sticks on my skin. What happiness ! Haha ! I've never been so happy to see the rain !

The day is over, I go home. Nasra is getting better. She picked up the rainwater in the buckets, tonight shower !

Children fall asleep early this evening. Nasra and I are cooking pasta. The rain falls again. Few maasai who were in the area enter in the house to protect themselves from the rain. "hodi", they say (can i enter ?), "karibu" replies Nasra (you are welcome). And here we are dozen people in this small house, waiting for the rain stoping !

Wednesday, 22 February, we are going to discover our land. Edward, who has find this land the last year, is going to show it to us. We take a short way to get there. We pass near an enourmous baobab, place where the Maasai come for their meetings. We arrive on our ground, it's gigantic ! I didn't imagine it as big. Children are happy to discover the place of their future school, they run from everywhere ! I weep for joy, this land represents a lot of work, the energy we have deployed all together for a whole year. I think of the members of MtotoSchool but also sponsors, donors... Without all of you we wouldn't be there... This land now is waiting for his school and we must act as quickly possible.

Back home. I joined Nasra and the other Maasai women on a mkeka to rest. Nasra offers me a chai. 

Children play next to us. One of the women shows me the fingertips of Nemburissi. They are white and somewhat crumpled. I tell her that she probably played for a while in the water and that's the result. In fact, it's not that at all... Nasra explains to me that Nemburissi doesn't wash her hands when she finishes eating. And at night, during her sleep...the rats come nibbling her fingertips !... The rats ???!!! I feel bad suddenly ! Nasra tells me "yes, you don't see rats at night ?". No i don't see them and  I hope not see them ! I tell to Nasra that she must learn cleanliness to Nemburissi, she can catch diseases because of rats...

Thursday, 23 February, last day with my small watoto... Children don't want me to go back and Nelson more than them... I write some words to my Nelson and I ask to Lusajo to translate it in Swahili. I want to explain to Nelson that i don't abandon him, that he must go to school every day to have a good academic level and later to have a good job, to buy food, medicines, clothes and help his mother. We are sad...

This is the end of my last day at Sokoine, I play one last time with children. I'm packing my suitcase. One of them has a broken wheel. I decide to give it to Nelson so that he can put his clothes inside. We sort his clothes which is mixed with those of his parents and we put it in his new suitcase. He is very happy and very proud. I take the opportunity to put cakes on it and winked at him. Great smile of my Nelson.

It rains again and everybody is happy. The rainy season is finally starting. The river fills with blow and children and I go out to follow the stream. We are glad to see all this water...

So i leave Sokoine reassured. Life may be a little milder for a few months...

Friday, 24 February, I say goodbye to the whole family, I kiss my Nelson strongly, I will miss him so much. He smiles to me, it's good like that, it helps me to go back the light heart...

I go to meet my family in France, i will restart my work and I will do all I can to raise the necessary funds to build a big class for children...

Be patients watoto, you will have soon your class !

Thank you donators for school supplies !
Balloons for children !
In class
Lusajo, volunteer teacher

Children are kissing you !

If you want to see more photos, click here.