Archive for January, 2010

Daddy

Hey all, my dad was in a horse accident. He was in the hospital all night due to a collapsed lung, but is doing fine and will be out soon. Please pray for a quick recovery! Thanks for all of the prayers and support so far. I never imagined it being this difficult to be so far away from family in a time like this!

YWAM South Korea comes to Dar

On January 22, during our regular Friday assembly, we had some special guests. There was a group of about 15 students from South Korea, who are currently training to serve with YWAM, Youth With a Mission, in different areas of the world.  They put together some choreographed dances for the primary. The final song reminded me of the Turn Around skit that we used to use during youth group growing up. One student played Jesus and another student had given into the temptations of money, addictions and poor relationships. In the end, of course, she was redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ. My kids really enjoyed the dancing, and storytelling.

My kiddos with the YWAM team

Boy and his Chicken

Not sure why but I was fascinated by this. I guess it because you just don’t see it in Tucson. I couldn’t get a really good picture because I was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible while taking it.

Boy and his chicken.

Here you can see his feet, wrapped in rope and the plastic grocery bag covering his body. Every once in awhile the boy would readjust the chicken and then there he was staring us in the eyes, oblivious to the fact that later that day he would become a tasty supper.

I think what interested me most was that it was so normal for the boy to be holding the chicken.  Obviously, I did not grow up on a farm.

A note about chickens in Dar:

Chickens here are common but not as common as beef  (this is because of the native Masai peoples who are cattle herders).  Many men who ride bicycles to carry fresh goods throughout town carry chickens. They have them in baskets with a top layer over them so that they do not escape. Otherwise they can be seen walking around the road  here and there, not nearly as many as you see in Kauai.

Dar es Salaam: Officially the 8th Filthiest City in the World

Yes, it is true. This was the headline of the Dar es Salaam newspaper just a few weeks ago. Dar es Salaam is officially the 8th filthiest city in the world.

They ranked cities worldwide based on levels of air pollution, waste management, water potability, hospital services, medical supplies and the presence of infectious disease.

The streets really are very dirty here. Trash is everywhere. When we first moved here I noticed it all of the time but now I wouldn’t say it is something that I think about much. There is no public trash company, such as Waste Management, who comes to collect your garbage every week to be hauled away.  Sadly, most trash is burned. Even our trash is burned in the back of our compound. This is not something I am proud of. We do our best to recycle all that we can and to reuse everything as much as possible.

Although there are many people who have started recycling companies and who are trying to change this, it will take a long while before this is no longer an issue here.

I could not find the list that the Dar es Salaam Newspaper had released but I was able to find one from 2009. Here it is:

The World’s Dirtiest Cities
1. Baku, Azerbaijan (27.6)
2. Dhaka, Bangladesh (29.6)
3. Antananarivo, Madagascar (30.1)
4. Port au Prince, Haiti (34)
5. Mexico City, Mexico (37.7)
6. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (37.9)
7. Mumbai, India (38.2)
8. Baghdad, Iraq (39)
9. Almaty, Kazakhstan (39.1)
10. Brazzaville, Congo (39.1)
11. Ndjamena, Chad (39.7)
12. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (40.4)

Looks like we are moving on up!  I am sure this makes you all want to come visit us right away.

Seriously though, this is a major issue that creates so many of the health problems in this country. Pray that this year something will be done to alleviate this growing issue.

Solar Eclipse

January 15th, 2010.

As we walked outside of our weekly assembly one of my students pointed to the sky and said, “Mrs. Baum! Mrs. Baum! It’s an Eclipse!”

I promptly responded, “No it’s not. I would have known about before hand if there was going to be an eclipse.”

However, I looked into the sky and discovered I was completely wrong! There was a Solar Eclipse, and it happened to be the longest one that will ever been seen by anyone living today. The next one this long will not occur until the year 3043.

We sat and watched it through a quickly rigged together, whole in the paper. Because I did not know about it before hand I had no preparation to really control the students and educate them on not looking at it. They were really amazed by it! The best part was that the clouds covered it here and there and we were really able to get a good glimpse of it.

After it was over we came back in and got a real lesson about what an eclipse is and how significant this particular eclipse was.

I remember so vividly, watching a solar eclipse in second grade, my teacher, however was a bit more prepared. I hope that this is an event that my students remember for years and years as well.

Check out some more pictures and info about it…..

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8461625.stm

A Timely Delivery!

So for the past few weeks, I have been in a major slump. Missing family. Missing friends. Missing Tucson. Not feeling like a have a purpose in Dar.  And so on. Not to sound too depressed because really I am not, nor is life terrible here in anyway. On the contrary life is great here. The reality is that I am just in a homesick rut that hopefully will end soon with prayer and encouragement.

Anyways, yesterday when I went over to the Larmey’s for Bible study, Dyan told me that my packages had been picked up! YAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!

The packages!

These are the packages that my mom sent me for Christmas, 10 total. They were post marked December 14th and got here in a month’s time. Not too bad if you ask me.  We also received a package from Austin’s Mom, which took a slight detour in  getting here because the Post Office confused TZ for Tasmania instead of Tanzania. Careful with that one.

I am so grateful that they came now and not at Christmas time. Filled with lots of things I had asked to be sent and lots of things that were just fun to get including hand sanitizer, GOOD facewash, real vanilla extract, granola bars, Christmas goodies, Trader Joe’s Dried fruits, framed pictures of our puppies, and so much more. One of my favorites for sure was the birthday card my brother sent me. He pasted a picture of me and him with Dad when we were 2 and 4. So precious. He wrote the sweetest note as well. I can’t believe he is so grown up now! What an honor it is to have him as a brother! I love you DREWBERS! Thanks a million MOM! Love you!

Christmas all over again!

The Lord knows so well when we need a little pick me up!

” Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, His love endures FOREVER!” Psalm 118:1

The Heartbreaking Realities of Adoption in Tanzania

Recently Austin and I have been doing some investigating about adoption. We met with an adoption lawyer, the only adoption lawyer in town, no in all of Tanzania, and found out some startling facts.

Tanzania is a closed adoption country, meaning that unless you are a resident you cannot adopt a baby. This is unlike countries like Ethiopia, Rwanda, or Ghana where you are free to adopt internationally there.

There are over 2 million orphans in Tanzania. Of the 2 million orphans only about 50 of them were adopted from July 2008 to June 2009.

The adoption process is extremely drawn out and takes much patience, because the government is weary of trafficking. The laws in Tanzania just changed, and they make adoption in Tanzania much harder. Tanzanians are not likely to adopt. It is not cultural and people just do not do it for the most part.

It is no wonder with so many orphans that we have friends that have chosen to adopt. We are praying that these new laws do not effect adoptions too drastically, so that more of the orphans can be placed into good homes.

Check out more information at  

Thoughts on Giving Birth in Tanzania

As mentioned in our earlier post, we have had some roommates for the past two months who came to Dar to give birth to their baby girl. She was born on December 4th at 2am. My roommate, another teacher and I were able to go see Miss Baylor Harrison later that day at the hospital. Thankfully, they had a private room with ac, of which there are only two in the whole maternity ward. Baylor was healthy as could be and things went relatively smoothly.

However, after watching Brett and Christie, going through their first few weeks of parenthood I have made a decision that I do not want to have a baby in Tanzania, or even in Africa at that matter. There are many reasons for this.

There are too many chances that things could go wrong and the doctor you are seeing has no idea how to take care of you or they take care of you but do it completely wrong. If the circumstance came to be and I had to have a baby here, I guess I would suck it up and go to Kenya or pay the big bucks at the clinic here.

Being so far away from friends and family during such a celebratory time would be so hard for me. When I was growing up all of the cousins would all go to the hospital and wait to see the new baby cousin. It was always so exciting. Plus I think my mom would kill me.

You need support afterwards as well. It is not just the giving birth that needs help but more the weeks afterwards, when you are exhausted, feeling completely strange about this new life style and needing as much help as possible. I want grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles and anyone else who wants to help, be able to help. Skype just doesn’t cut the mustard for this one.

Moral of the story is no babies in Africa. I shouldn’t say it too loud though, the Lord seems to keep doing exactly what I say I do not want.

On Being a Minority

It is no secret that we are a minority here. I guess if we lived on the Penninsula, aka “Ex-Patriot Land” we would be less so. On the HOPAC campus it is not something that crosses your mind much because it is such a mix of races that you are just a part of the mixture. However, outside of those two areas, it is so very clear that you are a minority. When Austin and I ride the Dala Dalas, we are very aware of the fact that we are white. People point it out to you, as if you did not already know. “Wazungu, Wazungu, Wazungu!” They call at you, some smiling, some laughing, some just curious because they so very rarely see white people. When we first moved here I was very offended by this behavior. If you were in America and people on the street shouted out “Foreigner,” “White girl,” or “Black girl” that would be grounds for a lawsuit. Coming to a realization that they do not have anything else to call you, and that they really are not meaning it disrespectfully (although some are) took me a long time.

It is strange being a minority. Although I am half Hispanic and very proud of it, and I was raised in city with so much Mexican culture, there is something drastically different about being in an all African community. You stand out like a sore thumb and people point it out on top of it. There is no way to avoid this, instead you must embrace it and accept that you are the minority.

We recently had an experience at the Muhumbili hospital that sent Austin and I both through the roof, but we just had to smile and take it all with a grain of salt.

We went to Muhumbili, to get a scope to check out my throat and make sure that nothing major was going on down there. When we arrived, we were amazed at how large the campus was. There were so many buildings and wings, much like American hospitals which you do not see here. The place was crawling with people. Apparently it is customary to take the entire family along when a family member has to go in for something. So if grandma is getting an x-ray the entire clan, aunts, uncles, grandkids, children, everyone tags a long. We asked many people for directions to the building but they all just pointed to a general area. As we were walking around it was very easy to notice that we were the only, and I really do mean only, white people around. This is very common; however, here you really could feel it more than usual. We went into three or four wrong buildings, one in which patients who were quite ill were lying on a stretcher in the middle of what would normally be a waiting room in an American hospital.

Finally we got to our building. There were people lining the walls waiting for their family members. We entered the ENT room 35. In the room there were about a dozen interns learning how to perform a regular check up. My doctor was in the back of the room. He called me over and told us to take a form up to the next floor and pay our bill. Then we could come back down and get the procedure done. We listened obediently and headed up stairs. Once we got to the “Private Billing” room, we waited our turn. People here do not wait in line; they sit in line and pretty much sit whenever possible. They look at you like you are crazy if you stand, and there is an open seat.

Our turn came after a short wait. As the man looked through our paperwork he told us, we do not have this procedure here. We told him confidently yes you do so he kept looking in the computer system. Then he told us that in order to have the procedure done and it be covered by our insurance here, we must have a letter signed by our insurance saying they will pay for it. I guess having an insurance card is not enough here. We were both frustrated but because we were the minority we had no pull and they were not about to change any rules for us. He then told us that instead of the price the doctor had given us, that we were to pay 4 times the price that we were given because we are white. We were absolutely floored. Thankfully there was a man who worked with the hospital in the room at the time who said he could help us. He took us out the room and escorted us back to the doctor’s office. It should be noted that all throughout this experience I was called the “white patient.”

Okay so for many of you who have never experienced this it may seem a bit shocking. At first it is, but after you understand their culture a bit more, you realize that they have no other words to use for you and they do not mean it in any terms of racism at all. If this were to happen in America there would be a huge law suit in seconds. Here though, this is it.

Back to the story, after a bit of consulting with the doctor they came to an agreement in which the doctor very kindly told the man that we were to pay the Residents price (which we are residents but I guess it still doesn’t count). We were also waved of having the additional letter from the insurance company. These really were all works of God because according to their rules we should not have had anything done that day.

I sent Austin to finish up the paperwork because we were both so very frustrated and thought it better if only one of us were there dealing with the accountants, not as intimidating. He came down about 15 minutes later with paper in hand and had paid the non-wazungu price.

After this it was smooth sailing. The nurse called me into the patient room. We made sure she had cleaned the scope thoroughly. The very kind Doctor came in told us about the process and went to work. He sprayed a numbing spray on my throat that was quite strange because it paralyzes your throat basically, you feel like you are choking a bit but it gets better and you are able to swallow. He then took the scope and shoved it down, gently of course. Austin got to see everything up close and personal and unlike my Wisdom tooth surgery he did not get faint. Everything looked good except for the fact that I have a small callous on my vocal chord, which is what I have been feeling this whole time. I think it is the teaching. It was good to know for my anxiety’s sake that it was just that and nothing else! We were in and out within 10 minutes.

Overall, we were left satisfied. We were still frustrated with experience and don’t plan on going back if we can help it. But at the same time we were happy to hear the good news that my throat is good and that it was over.

Being a minority sure is different, but I am learning everyday how to embrace this life changing experience of being the Wazungu!

Welcome Back!

Once we made it back to Dar es Salaam safe and sound, we were greeted with the news that our neighbors’ puppy fell sick a few days after we left with rabbies.
RABBIES! AHHHHHHHHHH! I had no idea. Living in Tucson I have had very little exposure to this awful disease, except everyone’s exposure in life with the classic OLD YELLER (it still makes me sad to think about that one. ) However, here it is real and right in our compound. They puppy was put to sleep just after the Rabbies was full blown. This was stressful to say the least for our poor neighbors.
The entire compound who had any contact with the dog went to the hospital immediately and began shots for the rabbies vaccine. Everyone had some minor melt downs and freak out moments, but at least we are able to get the shots here in Dar es Salaam.
This was not the calm we wanted to come home to after our time in Ethiopia, but it is what it is. We are just praying that another case of this does not come our way during our time here EVER AGAIN!