field trip of raha!!
Skuli ya Imani took our second ever field trip a week back. We planned a day Bibi could join for the fun since she is a veteran of crazy field trips with children (my favorite story involving a child getting sprayed with cow feces and yes I posses the brand of humor where that is hilarious!) and of course we waited for our much anticipated uniforms.
We were able to plan and go on this trip due to another crazy generous donation from a classroom in Chicago!! I love when kids help kids! Their teacher came here with the group of folks last June and when she returned to her school she shared about our little school here. The students there raised funds and with those funds we were able to buy a storage cabinet for all our books and go on this field trip AND still have money to spare!! All my students were required to pass an exam before being invited to attend and this was a BIG motivator. I had children studying and quizzing each other at my house until 9:30 pm some nights. I am constantly humbled by the ways people here serve and help each other. The older kids set up little impromptu study sessions with some of the kids who were having trouble because I simply could not help everyone. They pulled together and with only hours to spare before the trip everyone of the 42 students passed! So they and their parents were pumped to hit the road (last time I was chastised repeatedly because there was not enough room on the bus for all the parents so this time we rented two buses to make sure everyone could attend). In the states you have trouble getting chaperons- here I had almost the same number as children making it a neighborhood affair.
Preparations were rather last minute as 24 hours before the trip we had no uniforms, no buses, and no food purchased. I have learned not to be stressed. Inshallah it will always work out. And it did! Everyone came together and helped; friends searched out buses to rent, volunteered to buy and cook the food, and pass out uniforms. A Mama of some of the students went to the market and bought all the food which included almost 30 kilos of rice! She then spear headed efforts to get everything cooked and packed before we left the next morning at 9am (ok, closer to 10am.....this is Africa!) She only slept 2 hours that night because of cooking, cutting, preparing, and packing and she has a baby ("my" baby) and 5 other kids. Yes, she is a rock star! I have amazing friends here. We met at our house and after praying to thank God and ask for protection on our trip we loaded our masses into the buses. Two 25 passenger buses held 79 people! And we were on our way. Here is a slice of our special day.....
you have heard it takes a village to raise a child...also to cook pilau for 79 people!
Even my Mzungu self was put to work!
1 hour prior to departure
snacks for later cooked at 2am the night before
only the really brave (or crazy) rode the bus full of kids!! Lots of singing!!!
Bibi was one of the few!
first stop Jozani forest to learn about the national forest and monkeys!
lots of walking through the jungle to search for those little guys!
but it was worth it!! This dude was surrounded! Then we headed to the beach and rented an abandoned house to eat and relax.
parents plate up the pilau and salad...could not believe how much those kids and grown folks ate!
enjoying the beach and beautiful water
the Mamas who helped monitor the kids in the water..no small task!
they had so much fun!
but some kids were not so sure about the water
watching the chaos
it was really amazing that we found a place to hang out, that it was high tide, and that everything worked out.
when it was time to leave a few kids did not want to get out and had to be persuaded by the bakora "beating stick"!
most of the parents took the opportunity to buy some fresh fish for dinner at great prices from the local fishermen prompting me to be grateful I was riding the student bus for the hour and a half hour trip home!
Mama rock star who was in charge of cooking!
bus ride back with lots of tired watoto (me too!)
Of all the chaos of the day I will never forget one of my students running out of the water when it was time to go and jumping and yelling "Mama Annikah raha, raha, raha, kweli" I tried to translate this to Bibi and realized like many things in Kiswahili it is difficult to translate the exact meaning of this word: raha. Like many words and phrases I have learned when it is used and thus have gleaned it's definition but I guess if you look it up it means happiness, joy, serenity, or bliss. Raha. He was expressing what I felt inside too. That made me day.
At the end of days like this I usually think two things: 1. why do I get myself into this?? Pure chaos!! and then shortly followed by 2. When can we do it again?
Skuli ya Imani is truly a school of faith. We have seen Him provide for us in ways none of us could have imagined but that is so all credit and glory goes to Him. Always. We are grateful. Raha.