Our morning begins very here, with the first rooster crowing before 5am. As the daylight increases, more roosters join in the chorus, followed by the cows and one pig. We are usually out of bed before 7, get dressed and ready to start the day.
Tom begins his day by setting up the gas cooker and straining tap water into a pot to boil for our tea. He then sets the little coffee table in the living room with cups and utensils. The sugar is in a tightly sealing tupperware container. He also gets out juice and usually a container of fruit left from the previous night’s dinner; pineapple, mango or oranges.
I cook breakfast. Usually it is eggs, french toast or cereal. Anything that is not in our little refrigerator must be kept in sealed plastic containers. We use the parmalat type milk, which I actually like. It tastes like evaporated milk.
By the time we are finishing our breakfast our housekeeper Veronica arrives. We head up the road to the home, where we will work until noon.
Veronica starts out by washing up the breakfast dishes. The washes whatever laundry is in the basket. This is done at a large outdoor sink area in our back yard. She sweeps through the whole house, cleans and then cooks our food for the day. Since she is young and has a five year old, we have her cook enough for lunch that we can eat the leftovers for our dinner. She usually leaves between two and three in the afternoon.
When Tom and I get to the home, we go our separate ways. If there are no other jobs needed or classes being held (like now while half of the girls are away on break) we head to different groups of children. At the home the children are divided into four rooms. The nursery right now has a three week old baby and one that is about two months old. They are both boys. A child care worker is assigned to each baby, so with one on one care, we only stop to visit there.
Room One has the eight babies ranging from two or three months old to about one year old. Room Two has seven toddlers. Since we have been here, three of them have started walking. It has been a fun process to watch. Room Three has the older children in it, with the oldest being three years old. He is Husseini, who recently started nursery school at the Rainbow School. Whatever room we work with, the day consists of playing with the children, feeding them, taking walks with them, and doing a lot of singing. We work from 9 until noon and then from 2 until 5.
If English classes are being held, we have a morning and an afternoon class. Each one lasts about an hour. Sometimes the driver for the home, a very nice man named Christian, sits in on our class too. Every day is different. The girls are always switching their duties and their schedules. The majority of the girls are on day work, but there is always a night crew as well. There are 32 girls altogether, but the classes range in size from 8 to 18 (the number of desks in the classroom). I try to cover the same ground in each class, so that it doesn’t matter if the girls switch from morning to afternoon. The children are the main concern here, so the classes come second, understandably.
Tom has had a variety of jobs so far. He has repaired a clothes dryer, a chain saw, some plumbing, and is now working on repairing many broken or missing window panes. The chain saw has made him the star of the neighborhood. A couple of years ago, a chain saw was donated to the home, but without directions. The Dar es Salaam baggage tag was still attached to it, but it was full of old gunky fuel. Tom was able to get it working. This is a very big deal since the home uses an amazing amount of fire wood each day for cooking and for heating water for bathing and loads of laundry. When the kids hear the chain saw they start chanting Ba-bu, Ba-bu, which means “grandfather”. Previously, the wood was split by axe and then cut to length either by hired men or by the girls using machetes.
We have a two hour break at noon, which sometimes I must admit turns into nap time for us. At two o’clock we head back and either have our work, or go to a different room for variety of the kids.
At 5 pm, we return home. I heat up dinner and Tom washes the dishes. Right now sunset comes between 6:30 and 7:00 pm. Tom always takes a walk after dinner and I often join him, but not always. After watching the sun go behind the mountain, we walk past the home and visit the girls who are cooking that day. Sometimes, we sing with them. It could be Jingle Bells, Jesus Loves Me, If You’re Happy and You Know It, or just last night it was The Hokey Pokey.
We return home before dark. By 7 pm almost everyone is at their home for the night. We usually check for email, Facebook, or read. Some nights we play Scrabble or 500 Rummey. By 9 o’clock we get our showers. This is done standing in a large plastic pan and pouring water over ourselves from a pitcher. Veronica boils the water for us in the afternoon and it is kept in two ten liter paint buckets with lids to keep it warm.
When it is time to go to bed, we drop the mosquito net over our bed and tuck it all in between the mattress and the bed frame. We get into bed and thank God for having been blessed with another beautiful day.