Mama Africa

July 2016 arrival in Arusha, Tanzania. The darkness hides well the top of Kilimanjaro. I arrive at mama’s Liz house, her name is Adel but in Tanzania when you become a mum you “loose” your name and they call you mama + the name of your firstborn. Mama’s Liz house will be my home for the next weeks. Care, amazing food and company of others volunteers, who are already there. Different countries, different ages from 19 to 60+, individuals full of love and willingness to offer. How amazing the way our roads cross.
Monday and everyone leaves to go to their school. An hour drive changing two “dala-dala”, small buses of capacity of 12 that carry 30, baskets with fruit, branches of bananas and live chicken. “If they give you a baby to hold in the dala-dala, do not hold it, they might leave it with you and go away”, the responsible for our program warned us, trying to explain how difficult is for the families to take care of the children.
We are walking to find the school and small children come out of mud houses shouting “mzungu”, white person, they smile and the say hello everyday. At the school 140 kids 3 to 6 years old. Most of them attend thanks to the director who convinced their parents that it is essential to bring the kids to school. Every morning they stand up and say “Good morning teacher” shouting altogether and we start math, English, Kiswahili. I steel some time when we correct the exercises in order to play and do kids yoga. The classes, until a way to build a school is found, are held at the director’s house. My classroom is at the yard. The pencils are sharpened with razors. At 11 a.m. the kids form lines and we give them porridge, made by the director from flour, sugar and water. Maybe the only available food for some hours. Guardians pick up some of the children, others go back alone through the dirt and streamlet, they help each other and they go. In Africa you become autonomous early.
“Don’t forget us”, they told me saying goodbye at the school. “Don’t forget us”…

Alexandra Fanidou, Kindergarten teacher, specialized in early intervention in alterations of development, kids yoga teacher (Rainbow kids training), yoga therapy teacher for infants and children with special needs.