Judi Stewart and Guy Cowley

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Dar es Salaam - Day to day life in Buguruni 
(Photos to follow)


We are in Dar es Salaam to provide support to a local school for deaf children called the Buguruni School for the Deaf.  It is one of the largest deaf schools in Tanzania with around 240 pupils of whom about half are boarders.  It is a primary school but with an age range of 5-17 because of late entries into the school system.  Mary Hare School in UK, where Guy used to work, has contacts and support links with Buguruni, which is how we came to be here.


Buguruni is a suburb of Dar, about 5 km from the centre.  Life here is simple with local roads just sand and houses made of blocks but of a very simple design. We are living in a hostel run by nuns within a large Catholic complex called the Msimbasi Centre which runs conferences and courses for students and for priests and nuns.  Our room and meals are fine and at the about the standard we had chosen when we were travelling in India.  A bonus is the bar next door – also run by the nuns!  The good news is that beer is available – the bad news is not understanding the concept of COLD as opposed to cool!


We walk to the school each day through the local suburb which is more like a large village.  In the morning breakfast is being cooked - typically mandazi , which are like a fried donut.  The children are delightful with pre-schoolers shaking hands or high fiving us or just yelling “mzungu” (white person). Those old enough to be at school practise their “Good Morning” and “How are you” but, like all of us, get stumped if we actually reply with more than one  word!


School is a happy place though more disorganised than a European finds normal.  The children come from many different backgrounds – mostly very poor – and have different norms of behaviour.  The school is also short of resources, so any teacher absence means unsupervised classes.  We try to communicate in a trilingual mix of English, Swahili and Tanzanian Sign Language – which is different from signing elsewhere. General confusion, but all taken in good heart.


We have just ventured into central Dar for the first time – much as we expected for a mid-sized African city. Out of town is “the Peninsula”,  which is an up-market place full of Diplomats and expats, but useful for good supermarkets and nice restaurants.  We have been entertained royally there by Alison and Neville, two expats know to Judith, a colleague volunteer (and Trustee of the Friends of the school) who has visited many times before.  


Standard transport around town is a Dalah Dalah – a fixed route minibus – of which there are hundreds.  They only leave when they are full so there can be a suffocating wait in the heat of the day. Tanzania is close to the equator so temperatures are typically around 30 C with high humidity.  There are also dozens of taxis so there is a fallback if time is short or we catch the wrong bus (not yet!).


The long rains are due from late March but we have already had a few spectacular storms – when it rains, it rains!  The village then becomes somewhat submerged and we have invested in waterproof sandals having already experienced a  paddle to school!  Of more concern in mid week was “thunder” that turned out to be an army munitions dump exploding about 15km away.  20 local people were killed and many teachers and pupils were absent the next day in the general disruption.  Thank God, none were hurt but some had been evacuated from their homes.