6 months in Dodoma.

September

First impressions on the very first day

When I had first caught a glimpse of the city of Dar es Salaam immediately the streets and roads leading to the settlements in Ukraine (which lies next Hungary) came to my mind. In my mind’s eye there rose an image of the roads and the buildings in bad and poor condition neglected by people. This also shows the economical strength of the country. Apparently, it is a developing country.Having said that, the citizens of Dar es Salaam were extremely welcoming, waving their hands from the side of the road while we journeyed. At the end of the day we got a substantial dinner at the Jesuits’ house where we had long conversations with the local Jesuits. After that we shared some food and drinks we brought from our countries distinctively.

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The international airport in Dar es Salaam.

On the next day we continued our journey. The bus stopped many times to pick up hitchhikers and some street sellers/vendors to promote their business hence it took a bit longer than 8 hours to get from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma.

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The beautiful flora of Tanzania.

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Breathtaking landscape.

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Dala dala are minibus share taxis in Tanzania. Often overcrowded.

When we arrived safe and sound in Dodoma two American volunteers had already been waiting for us accompanied by father Jerome. So they took us to the accommodation when we got to know the others. Again, just like the locals the American volunteers were quite hospitable and welcomed us with a lovely dinner. So seven volunteers live in the Jesuits’ house. 4 Americans, 1 German, 1 English and 1 Hungarian. The Americans teach at St. Peter’s high school, the others at St. Ignatius Primary school.

On the next day Vicky (one from the USA) showed us around in Dodoma, we had a little bit of sightseeing tour.

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Delicious grapes. Wine is also made in the area.

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Rice in different range of price. ‎£1 = Tsh 3200-3330

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A local market in Dodoma.

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A market.

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A market.

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Julius Nyerere’s statue in the main square of Dodoma.

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The city is full of dukas. (small shop, garage-size establishment that sells goods.) This one is very close to our accommodation.

To be frank I expected the conditions way worse than they are. Pretty livable even on a long term, I would say. For the record, power-cuts and blackouts occur from day 1. So far, for me personally, the best experiences was the choir singing at the confirmation mass at St Peter’s high school. The singing, the vocals, the songs, the shaker, the energy, the passion, the atmosphere I just can’t describe. I don’t think it is possible, you have to experience it yourself. The mass ceremony was as good as it got.

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The bishop receiving a goat as a present at St Peter’s in the confirmation mass.

Speaking of masses, gifts are offered to the parish by the parishioner in form of groceries and other goods and possessions during masses each Sunday.  I was deeply touched by the simplicity and the good will of these people. Even if they have little they are so devoted and faithful in sharing it. This is real love. This is really something we should learn from them and put into everyday practice.

I particularly enjoy the beautiful songs performed by the choir and the organist/cantor during the masses. They are magical. At least one of the songs touches my heart and soul. It is something I haven’t experience many times in Hungary and in the UK only once in a blue moon. But that is only me, you might have.

Wherever we go we are always welcomed by the Africans. They are very friendly and many of them say hello (habari or mambo) on the streets.

At the school:

The school started on the 21. of September. The classes consist of 50 people in large. I teach ICT and English in form 3,5 and 6. Form 3 is the most challenging one to teach, I suffer a lot with maintaining the discipline. On the other hand, I enjoy teaching very much. I tried to introduce some new exercises as they nearly taught with the same methods all the time Some exercises they did particularly enjoy. After the lessons the exercise books are collected and the teachers correct the mistakes or mark them. Personally I think a lot of time is wasted with the students copying the exercises from the board as they do not have books themselves. Same with the monthly tests. The teaching staff consists of 25 teachers plus we the volunteers. Each member of the staff is greatly welcoming and in our teachers’ office they always have fun and tease us, which I enjoy a lot.

However, if the pupils misbehave they get punished by the teachers in the staff room. So the corporal punishment is something they still use these days. Sometimes I feel sorry for them as they cry after they get punished but there is a reason for that. Friday is the day for sports: pupils let the steam off with outdoor and leisure activities in the afternoon.

We got to visit Chesire home which is a home for children live with mental disability. We would like to work there but at the moment the nurse is sick so hopefully later we will have a chance to engage.

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The Roman Catholic church in area C.

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The Roman Catholic church in area C.

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Roman Catholic women’s day.

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Monday and Friday mornings start with a gathering at St. Ignatius Primary school.

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The inauguration and consecration of the St Ignatius statue by Father Jerome and Father Jim with Sister Euphresia (the head teacher of the school).

October

On the first and the third Monday of every month a mass is celebrated with the Jesuits or with the sisters followed by a substantial dinner. Little by little we start to get to know the way around. We have a rota with our duties in our community. Our little volunteer group is an excellent one, we help each other in different ways, have spirituality nights, cook, clean, pray before our dinners.

Every now and then I do the shopping and I interact with the locals trying to use kiswahili. I also had some shirts made by a tailor. They are lovely.

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Me wearing a kitenge.

We had a local as our dinner guest to celebrate his birthday. He is an undergraduate and he expanded our perspectives regarding the life in Tanzania. According to him, many people just daydream and lazy to work, they just hope for a better or a perfect life. Dreaming about being wealthy with all the conveniences. Others die in the hospitals because there is no medicine for them as they are lack of money or a family to aid them.

To my greatest pleasure, we got to go to Mr Francis’ wedding on the 10. of October. It was more than fantastic, I just can’t express in words how much I enjoyed the music and the whole ceremony both in the church and at the reception. I was totally overwhelmed by the Tanzanian music. There were two MCs who are responsible for the good atmosphere and the flow of things and one DJ who played the music. Even we, the volunteers became the part of the event by being shown how to dance in African style by the benevolence of the MCs. Drinks were ceaselessly offered to us.

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“From this moment you are husband and wife.”

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The soup.

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Congratulations to the newly weds.(hongera).

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The dinner.

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Me, Lukas and Joseph with the little brides.

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Gifts to the couple.

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One paparazzi photo.

The Tanzanian general election will be held on the 25. of October and there is a huge hype around it. The parties are trying to strengthen their positions by having jeeps cruising around with big loudspeakers on them promoting the successful outcome of the election. Finally Magufuli won the elections and he became officially the president of Tanzania.

November

To our amazement we had some rain due to El Nino. I really loved it and soaked to the skin with much pleasure. It felt very good. Normally the rain is expected in late November or at the beginning of December.

This month has been definitely about working in Tumaini orphanage. There are 10 sisters and 45 kids living there. The sisters are hard-working and quite dedicated to their job. The kids are just fun. Every time I go there I always see smiling faces all around. They are very grateful for the help, too.

The three European volunteers have started to work there at the beginning of November.I work there every Tuesday and Friday. In the morning we normally pick the vegetables from the garden (which is huge) and wash them then we start to chop them and prepare the food for lunch at 1 pm. I particularly love doing it; we listen to the radio and have some chat, too. After lunch I take a nap and we continue the day with playing football in the playground or in case it is rainy we stay indoors and sing songs or learn a bit of English.

In the penultimate week of this month the final exams were due to be done at Saint Ignatius. The students were excited about it they learned a lot, worked hard throughout the year so there must be good results. The perfect tests will be awarded various prizes in those classes where I teach. Students seem to be extremely enthusiastic about it. At least they have a little inspiration :).

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The beautiful sunset.

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The scorching sun.

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Kids love the outdoor activities at Tumaini.

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We are having a lot of fun.

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Indoor activities.

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A view of the garden.

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Shucking beans.

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Vegetables. Chicha.

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Something delicious is being cooked.

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Beside the garden, they have an animal farm as well.

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Goats.

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Cow – Ngombe.

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There is a lake next to Tumaini.

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Occasionally we go out at weekends.

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A scorpion at Saint Peter’s. We spotted it after the dinner with the Jesuits.

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The last minutes before the exam.

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On the last school day of 2015 we built a holiday park.

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Mass on All Saints’ day.

December

So accompanied by Joseph I went to Kenya to renew my visa. The journey was long; it took around 9 hours to get to Arusha from Dodoma and another 8 hours to reach Nairobi. Departing from Dodoma we travelled by Shebibi, which was fairly comfortable. In addition, it had 2 TVs on board, showing music videos and movies on the way to entertain the passengers.Also, we had a free drink, which comes handy on a long journey especially in the hot Africa.

The retreat with the Jesuits was just fabulous. Amazing environment, warm welcome, spiritual exercise each day, uplifting prayers and songs, delicious food and fancy accommodation enriched our stay there.However, keeping silence at all places was a must. During dinner we talked to each other, though.

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The retreat house.

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The chapel.

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Our spiritual leader was Fr.  Richard D’Souza.

From his benevolence I have benefited a lot from this very retreat.During that week we had got some spiritual exercise we were expected to reflect on. That included the understanding the purpose of our life from a religious perspective and view, reading particul passages from the Bible.

The downtown of Nairobi is extremely hectic, I think the business is blossoming. The prices of computer accessories are more favourable than in Dodoma that is for sure.I have learned my lesson here. Never go alone in strange, unknown areas unless you see through people. If you do that some people might realize it and will try to deceive you. It is not about safety but about the tricks. Some are very good at telling lies.

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The downtown Nairobi.

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Nyama choma (mbuzi-goat) at St Peter’s on Christmas day.

We had a fantastic Christmas holiday with the new American volunteers, who are going to work in Dar es Salaam. After the midnight mass we were invited for a drink by the Jesuits. We exchanged best wishes among us and had long conversations. The next day we prepared the dinner at St Peter’s to continue the celebration.  Personally, I did really enjoy preparing the goat, mainly the way we cut it into bits and pieces,marinated and the seasoned it.All the volunteers actively engaged; all of us had their own duty.Some prepared the bread, some the meat, some the salad while others the cake and the desserts. In the evening we had gathered round the tables and had a wonderful feast. Prior to that, we chilled in the yard with cold drinks in our hands and had some great talks.

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With my favourite sister : sister Rocklais.

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The seven volunteers working in Dodoma during the period September 2015- December 2015 and the American programme coordinator.

From left to right on the top: Lukas, Tamas (me), Vicky, Becca, Mary,  Michelle (the programmer coordinator)

From left to right at the bottom: Joseph and Ryan

 

January

In 2015 I only taught 3 times a week now I have a busier timetable for 2016.I got lessons every day. Also, kicking off January a new role has been given to us: teacher on duty.

I teach less important subjects this year: Vocational skills,  personality and ICT in class 3,5 and 6.

Sadly I cannot make it to Tumaini on weekdays only at weekends.

Job – Kazi at Tumaini: Cutting vegetables (boga), making bread, watching a cow:)

Kazi at St Ignatius: Exercise books to be marked, making a collage during a lesson.

Just a regular lunch break.                Head boy/head girl election day.

The hot sun.                                      The Simba rock.

The best tool of motivation used in classes is rewarding the good performance of the pupils with stickers. They really love it. It works so well especially in class 3.However, if the name of a pupil is on the list of noisemakers then the pupil doesn’t get a sticker. There is one pupil in every class  who is responsible for making a list. Applying this rewarding method I can get instant silence nearly at any time. Also,  after the monthly exams pupils with perfect test are entitled to get additional stickers. Works like charm.

February

The family day at Ignatius was fantastic. Along with the American volunteers Anna, a visitor from Germany also accompanied us to the event. Mr Combo was the mc and Mr Francis was the dj.the atmosphere was lovely and cheerful Mr Combo made sure that all the people present have a great time. He did that with asking people to do various activities.

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Family day at St Ignatius.

For starters, all guests needed to introduce themselves,  some people got to perform some songs jointly. These awesome performances were very welcomed; people laughed and enjoyed themselves a lot.

After having a delicious and substantial dinner and tasty drinks we danced with the little ones. 

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Me at Afm radio. We were invited to talk about the importance of English.

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Joseph at Afm.

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A musician singing traditional Tanzanian songs in the street.

March

This month has been so busy I hardly had any time to update the blog. So many exams, marking, correction time really flew.

Our stay has come to an end. End of an era.

Goodbye party at our place.

 

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Goodbye party at Tumaini Orphanage.

With sad heart we partook. Some pupils were crying while others wrote down our contacts. We will never forget you all guys at St Ignatius.

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Last day at school. The old team (from left to right). Lukas, James, Asylia, Combo, Wenga, Joseph and me.

My heart is overfilled with love now when I came home. I can literally feel the overwhelming love in myself I have treasured up during this period of time.

In giving I have received.I got much more then I gave.

Finance

If you go to Tanzania for 6 months you need a tourist visa. It is valid for 3 months so you need to renew it once. To do that travelling to Kenya – the neighbouring country – could be an ideal option.

The fees of the tourist visa:

to enter Tanzania – $50

to enter Kenya – $50

You will enter Tanzania twice.Firstly, when you first arrive in the country at the airport $50 (Dar ES Salaam). Secondly, when you leave the country to renew your visa $50 (Tan/Kny) and later you come back and cross the border $50(Kny/Tan).

Therefore, the total cost for 6 months will be $150.

Alternatively,  you can exchange currency at the bureau de change in Dodoma.

Bear in mind, you need yellow fever certificate to enter Tanzania.

Practical pieces of advice

From September up to December I have never used sun-cream or mosquito spray. Mosquito net does the work and of course I take antimalarials every day. But with the rainy season mosquitoes come.

We do not have hot water for having a shower but it is hot here you do not need it anyway.

Many groceries are available here you would not even think. Cheese and meat like sausage or bacon is always welcomed if you come from home.

The Internet is free at the parish but if you buy a university offer at Halotel you can get Internet, minutes and SMS for a very affordable price.To get that you need somebody who attends one of the universities in Dodoma (pretty easy to find) to buy the sim card for you (cheap again).

Why come to Dodoma?

First and foremost,  in order to fulfil a Jesuit mission: to help the poor and the people in need. The rest, which comes with it is just extra, the icing on the cake.

Let me emphasise how grateful the kids at school and the orphans at Tumaini are for your being there. All you get is love.

Tanzania is safe. The inhabitants appreciate and value the moral code and actually follow it too; it is an excellent model for the European countries to follow. There is mob justice in the streets you better not commit crimes. It was really incredible to see how much they hate and persecute crimes and sins, when I got to spot one example of mob justice on the way to the bank. The legs of the criminal were bound with people assembling around him. Can you imagine it in your country?

Communities are based and rely on strong ties between people, Tanzanians may even develop very close and  intimate (not sexual) relationships with white people.Hospitality.If you have a guest in your house you pour water on his/her hands from a jug and offer your guest soap and a towel.Can you imagine it in your country? Also, a good number of people -strangers- greet you in the streets, many times with a smile on their faces even though you are a mzungu, a white person  not even a local – probably with a better financial background – and still they treat you equally. In many respects they are so human or so close to life on so many levels. I experienced that they live the moments in their lives.

Faith is also very strong. They deeply believe in God regardless of religion. Be it a Catholic or a Muslim they practice their faith on a regular basis and raise their kids according to it. Sometimes it is only God you can hold onto here.

Being another continent,  Africa offers you its beautiful country, Tanzania with its numerous sights (national parks with their wild animals, Kilimanjaro, lake Victoria, Zanzibar) culture, hospitable and pious people, healthy food and lovely music.

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