Saturday, July 3, 2010

Upigaji Picha.

God bless the iPhone! Prior to this trip I ordered a digital camera that never came, so I've been using my iPhone as a backup to capture some visuals. I'm sacrificing a some image quality but on the whole it has served me very well. I've been recording more videos than I've been taking photographs, and plan to piece together a short film when I get home that is sure to win a Pulitzer Prize and Oscar. But my photo collection is far from comprehensive. Even so, here are a few shots to fill some of the gaps in my written accounts, focusing (for now) on my volunteer work at CHISWEA.

A note on Tanzania and cameras: Taking photos in this country is a little tricky. For one thing, many Tanzanians, especially those from rural areas, get anxious around cameras -- I don't know who started the rumor that getting your picture taken means losing your soul, but I can tell you it has taken a firm hold here. I've already had instances where I've taken a picture and visibly upset someone (I assured them afterward that they were not in my picture, which fortunately just happened to be true). Many don't even want their houses or livestock photographed.

Another challenge is that those who aren't opposed to having their photo taken often view it as an opportunity to make money off of Mzungus, and will request compensation accordingly. This would not be so exhausting except that many Tanzanians tend to view everything as an opportunity to make money off Mzungus, but more on that later.

I sense that even those who do not believe literally that their soul is taken do feel that something has been taken from them, unduly and without their permission. Perhaps they have a point.

And finally, cameras are easy marks for thieves. In short, I have to be discrete, and sometimes downright secretive, when I decide to pull out the camera.

The exception to many of these rules are children, especially the children I work with, who are complete hams.

Frankie (left) and Chumanchuka pose beside the CHISWEA colonnade.

Ezekiel (CHISWEA Director) and Maartje (volunteer from Holland) have lunch with some of the girls. The special today, like every day, is rice and beans. 

In the kitchen, Issa (seven years old) gives the pot a stir. Incidentally, this is the one I'm stowing in my bag when I come home.

In the boys' dorm, hangin' with the boys.  From left to right, Namanga, Issa, Chumanchuka (what a name!), Joshua, and Adam.

Here we have Bahat, missing the teeth, and... his friend. (Cut me some slack, I can't remember everyone's name in four weeks)

Zacharia, presiding.

Izack, business tycoon and creator of finely crafted wristbands, shows us how the doughnuts are made.

The CHISWEA yard.  Also some laundry.

Another look at the yard, including the main gate.

Joshua draws water from the well.  Issa shows us his handheld mirror because, yeah.

Outside the gate, overlooking "CHISWEA Way" and "The Stadium" just across the road.

A closer look at the Stadium, with a football (soccer) game in progress.

Two cocks brawl it out in a back-alley along CHISWEA Way.  There is civil unrest in Tanzania after all.

At the CHISWEA farm plot, about 3 km outside of Arusha, we (yes, I helped) gather enough beans to feed over 70 people for the next few weeks.

A fire to cook a lunch of fresh-picked maize after our morning of gathering beans.


mama mia said...

The pictures are beautiful!! Their souls haven't vanished, I can see them! By the way, if you can manage to get Issa in your bag, I will make sure he's well taken care of while you go to work. WOW!!! wouldn't that be great!

Ashley said...

Lovely photos! Have your new friends in Tanzania got the World Cup Fever? They certainly seem to be soccer enthusiasts... :)