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Friday, October 8, 2010

Last Day in Bagamoyo

I have had my last day with Masiga, Irham, and Tashi, the artists and teachers of Bagamoyo Young Artist Center.  It was very touching for me.  They say, "We have only known you a short time but we speak of you all the time.  We will miss you so much." and they ask when I'm coming back.  I say "I don't know.  But we will not say 'goodbye.'  We will only say, "Until we meet again."

They have shared their dreams with me.  They wish to bring the children to America to dance and share their culture.  I have told them to paint their dreams on canvas, place them in the center of the sand and pray to the ancestors while dancing and drumming in a circle around them.  They have said, "they will call my spirit in as well."  And I said, "I will be there."  When they rolled up the paintings I'm taking, they said to each painting, "You are going to America."

I have also helped them identify the practical steps they can take to become known in Bagamoyo.  We have made arrangements with Cross-Cultural Solutions to bring every group of new volunteers to see the children dance and also give them the opportunity to see and buy their artwork.  I have put Masiga in touch with the chairman of the HIV Project in hopes that the children's dances can become one of the activities they use for their HIV awareness day.  They now have the entry fee to enter the children as dancers in next year's Bagamoyo Art Festival and to rent booth space to sell their artwork.  We have talked about the need to open a bank account for BYAC and to keep track of incoming monies and expenses.  I've left word for the next volunteer to help them write an application for a sponsor.  They are like children when it comes to money since they have never had any.

Yet, they are happy people.  While they have big dreams, they do not seem to know they don't have things.  Yesterday I played with Amulike (4 years old).  For 30 minutes we played hockey with a piece of broken plastic and two pens.  When the plastic went into the hole in the linoleum floor, it was a goal.  Amulike squealed with laughter the whole time.  He really does not need a bright plastic toy and there's a part of me that hopes he never has that.  He already can paint an elephant and a giraffe that look like what they are meant to be, that is he can do than when they have paint and paper.

I've had the experience of a lifetime here.  Nothing can prepare one for what it is like to live here and according to our western standards we may see only distress, poverty, and despair but that is simply not true. Yes, that does exist, just as it exists right in our own neighborhoods and aids is epidemic here, but there is also a more true beauty  in the simplicityof life here in Bagamoyo than what I see in any western city.  It has been a heart opening experience for me in ways that I'm sure I will not be able to discover until much later when I have returned.  Maybe I will never be able to put it into words.

Having said all of this, I personally am looking forward to returning to the comforts of western life.  But first we must face the tsi-tsi fly in Arusha, Lake Tanganyire, Lake Manyare and Ngorogoro crater while on safari. The  tsi-tsi fly has a long, strong probscis that will penetrate the hide of a rhinoceros and the only way to combat them is to hit them with a rolled up newspaper.  Wish us a good aim.

I am hoping for a better internet connection in the safari lodges.  This one will not let me upload anymore of my pictures.  It is too hot and too tired.

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