Habari za asubui rafikis? How are you this morning friends?
Our early Mufindi morning was cool with clear blue skies and large white clouds hovering above the distant hills. This was our last day in Mufindi and we were planning to visit the remote Ikaning’ombe school. Numerous mothers with babies on their backs, women of all ages with heavy loads balanced on their heads, men riding bicycles and piki pikis or motorcycles, all on or beside the rudimentary road leading to this remote village. Women and children preparing their shambas for planting, the occasional man turning the dry soil with heavy jembes or hoes, fields of tea pickers. From the narrow road expansive views of pines and eucalyptus trees clustered in groves between sloping fields of tea and mounds of freshly cultivated soil.
After driving through several small villages and a mythical forest of trees resembling gigantic bunches of broccoli, we drove up a steep incline and along a single lane hugging the top of the hillside. The bottom of the valley could be seen hundreds of feet below. We sounded like a wedding procession as I honked the horn at the approach of every bend in the road. Finally the road opened up and tall banana trees lined the windy entrance into Ikaning’ombe village, a village well known for its cooking bananas.
Upon arriving at the school we discovered there were no teachers, only a smattering of uniformed students mingling with shamba or farm dressed students and a group of fundis, carpenters reconstructing the dilapidated kindergarten building our organization is sponsoring. A very relaxed atmosphere! In our broken Swahili we inquired about the missing teachers and students. They were working in the school shamba of course! The word had gone out that we were there and John, a disabled teacher using a long pole for stability, walked up the slopping pathway towards us. He greeted us and said that teachers and students do shamba work in the mornings before the rainy season as it is too hot from mid day on to prepare the soil for planting. School commences again in the afternoons.
Ruth and I explained that we had prepared two stories for the children if they had time to listen. Thankfully they were very eager and an “outdoor classroom” was hastily prepared. Eighty closely packed children listened intently, smiled, laughed and pointed at the pictures as we read our stories accompanied with props. John enthusiastically translated.
It was pure magic and warmed the hearts of these two retired teachers.
A perfect last day in Mufindi and a perfect kwaheri or good bye!!
With much love,