Well, word is I'll be living near Njombe, in the "Southern Highlands" in a small mountain village! I'm really excited. Look on a map -- close to Malawi and Lake Nyasa. It's supposed to be really chilly, lush and beautiful - lots of trees, mountains, coffee/tea bushes and fruits a plenty. I will be the first volunteer in this community, and they have supposedly been requesting a PC volunteer for over a year...i.e. there will be great community support and easy community entry. The District Medical Officer desperately wants help with Schisto - a worm disease from contaminated water and snails, and then we'll move on to HIV/AIDS work. I will elaborate more on the work situation later (we don't know much).
Apparently, they have built a new house by the Health Center and I am ready to baptise it. It will not have electricity or water, and I'm truly looking forward to living the simple life for a while. When will I ever have the opportunity to live like this again? I'm already dreaming of my first candlelit dinner all by my lonesome....
Actually, I won't be too lonesome -- there are many volunteers around me - both in Health, Education and Environmental sectors. I'm really glad my friend Amanda is only an hour away, and we will both be biking into Makambako (check the map - a crossroads) for banking/shopping (about 15 kms from dirtroad to Manga). Apparently, there are quality roads passing through Njombe and through Mafinga which means traveling won't be too brutal. Real tarmac they say! And a ton of volunteers meet up in Njombe every few weeks to get together, which'll be a nice retreat.
Regarding thesis writing (as in I'll need to plug in the old laptop for my old SIT Masters thesis - fun fun), my supervisor said I am free to bus into Njombe (1 1/2 hours away) or other towns to plug in at other volunteer's sites w/ electricity. Kinda nice to have that flexibility...
SOOO much else has happened don't know where to begin...a few things worth mentioning: had a successful full day training of teachers re: HIV/AIDS in our village, in mostly Swahili (our teacher stepped in a bunch clearly - "sure, so you're a beginner" - Gals/Logan - thank you!) - we all felt so accomplished...also went to spend the night at my friend Thais' polygamous homestay - surreal. 2 moms, 1 dad, and 9 kids! Unbelievable. We laughed, played "Leapfrog," and then sat under the stars on bamboo mats as we chowed down with our hands (they literally own 1 spoon - bas) on rice and peas and fresh fruit from their farm. The next morning, the moms (yes, plural) prepared and served fresh bread, chipati and vitumbua to hungry villagers passing by - their means of income. And this happens every day. It's comical to me the stark contrast with life back in the US. Sometimes I look around and just laugh, wishing you all could just share in the moment. There are so many of these moments...moments where I look up at the sky and wonder why I deserve to be here, doing this/living this life here with these incredible people? I'm truly grateful.
So, we all received our sites yesterday, and most of us are ecstatic aside from a few stuck way down south near Mozambique (transport is poor) or in Singida (a dustbowl). However, I don't think there's such a thing as a "bad site" in TZ -- these Tanzanians are amazingly gracious people. It doesn't matter where you are, but who you're with anyway, right?
We're now off to orient ourselves to the big city of Dar! The Peace Corps Headquarters is quite posh, I tell you. Just had my first salad today for lunch - scrumptious, and we're all hoping to buy cell phones. We'll then pass through Morogoro for a NGO fair to learn how to coordinate with NGO's once at site. Really excited about that one...wonder if there are any NGO's around Manga??? Will see in a few weeks...
Well, be on the lookout for a call...and I'll post my number and specific site address as soon as I know them!
Karibu sana! (come visit anytime),
Uncle Thad: I'm already looking forward to a rendezvous with you/Marilyn on Lake Nyasa/Malawi...Karibu Karibu!!