Newala. What and where is that you may ask? It's arguably the greatest town of the Deep South, boasting a breathtaking panoramic view of the Ruvuma River, the natural border between Southern Tanzania and Mozambique. One of the 5 districts of the Mtwara Region of Tanzania, the Newala District has a population of around 200,000, with most of the inhabitants originating from the Makonde tribe.
Any further inquiries on life there? Karibu: http://jenintanzania.blogspot.com.
Jen was our mwenyeji (resident) and hostess for the week stay in Newala, her Peace Corps site for the last 2 years. This June, she organized a 6 day Seminar for local street kids and kindly welcomed a few of her fellow Peace Corps friends (me, Maya, Stevu and Jason) to join in the festivities. Clearly, it was all work and NO play...Okay, not really. We had a great time, but teaching 25 street kids-all boys I might add-was no game. It was quite an eye-opening experience for me, for all of us.
*Who woulda thunk to steal the chalk from our classroom and paint their face? This kid did. Mjanja!*
*Teaching...err, trying to teach the boys to build a human pyramid*
*The seminar's directors, Jen and her counterpart, Bakari, lying by the signboards painted by the kids themselves expressing their right and desire to be better supported in the community. The aim was to give these kids a voice, unity. They even initiated their own group called KIWAMINE or Kikundi cha Watoto wa Mitaani wa Newala, "the Street Kids of Newala Group." Now unified and recognized by the District leaders and residents of Newala, hopefully these kids will now feel more empowered and have greater access to both internal (TZ) and external assistance*
Just another day in Newala...at Jen's favorite gas station, eating lunch. Jamila is the star on the bottom left. One word to describe Jamila? Angel. This girl is one of the kindest, most tender kids I've met in country. It's no wonder everyone that meets her falls in love with her. For more on Jamila's story, see Jen's blog. It's worth reading and quite telling of the unfortunate, yet inevitable circumstances so many Tanzanian youth find themselves in - orphaned, lacking positive role models and with a future that's questionable at best. Thankfully, Jen (and her generous friends at home) are changing all that.
Latest photos from Newala and Goodbyes in Manga: