Welcome to the Gofu Juu Website

 

Mrs Harrison's Tanzanian Diary

Links

The Year 2008 was a year of firsts for me and it all began with my opportunity to visit Tanga, Tanzania. It was the first time I was to fly long haul, having always holidayed at home and in Europe. It was the first time I had to involve the medical profession in my travel preparations with my numerous visits for vaccinations. It was the first time I was relying on someone else to organise, take charge and look after me,well, since I had left my parents home many years before (this is not something that comes naturally to me, my nickname is ‘Mrs Organised’!). Taking all of this into account, as the date of departure got nearer I felt I was on an emotional rollercoaster.

External Links
   
Gofu Juu Homepage British Council
Curriculum Links Tanzania Facts
Gofu Juu School Badge Tanzanian High
Gofu Juu Staff

  Excited and thrilled one day, scared, worried and nervous the next.After a smooth and problem free 10 hour flight (complete with lots of  food and drink and my own personalised TV, a luxury I don’t even have at home!) we touched down at Dar es Salaam airport. We were to stay overnight in Dar es Salaam to catch up on some sleep and travel by road to Tanga the next day.

    Current Weather in Tanga
Wychumvi Tanzanian News
Wyche School Homepage Tinga Tinga Art images
   
 

 

 

More firsts…

It was the first time I was to experience sleeping under a mosquito net (getting in and ensuring I was totally enclosed was a knack that I quickly perfected!).

It was the first time I knowingly slept in the same room as a cockroach (a very big one, who spent the whole night trapped under a glass…and yes he was released unscathed on our departure!)

It was the first time, when riding in a dala dala (a cross between and taxi and a minibus) and stuck in a very long traffic jam, that I was asked, by the numerous passing locals, if I wanted to buy some oranges, some nuts and new pair of shoes and even a canary!

The journey by road from Dar es Salaam to Tanga was long, hot, a tad uncomfortable as we were all (9 of us) crammed into a Land Cruiser and yet it was a fantastic early insight into the way of life of the Tanzanian people and the beautiful surroundings in which they live.

   
   

On arriving in Tanga we were driven straight to a small hotel where we were to meet our host head teachers. On reflection Esther appeared very shy and reserved, as did the other heads. Conversation was a little stilted as we endeavoured to communicate.

More firsts

   
 

It was the first time we had met after only the briefest of communications leading up to our trip.

It was the first time Esther was required to use English to communicate at any great length, this she did brilliantly and eloquently…I was in awe of her as my only knowledge of Swahili was ‘Jambo’ (meaning hello) and well if we had relied on me our conversation over dinner would have been brief to say the least

Our accommodation in Tanga was to be at a Convent positioned on the edge of the Indian Ocean. The setting was breathtaking all that was missing was a Bounty bar!! The rooms were basic but spacious. The Father and the nuns who fed and looked after us were so warm and welcoming.

 
 

More firsts

It was the first time I had knowingly shared my bathroom with a frog, well 2 actually, brightly coloured and really rather cute.

It was the first time I ate a fish, complete with its head.

 
   

It was the first time I had a cold shower  without complaint (in fact I generally had 2 per day for the whole length of our stay!)

It was the first time that I had the luxury of sitting down with a book, in the morning, before school for at least half an hour…something that, in my life back at home, I have never once been able to repeat…not that the view would be the same

   
   

Then came the moment I had been waiting for, our first visit to Gofu Juu Primary school, and nothing could prepare me for the welcome we received.

As we turned a corner in our Land Cruiser and pulled up beside a huge acacia tree, the whole school, all 900 pupils and the staff were there to greet us…cheering, singing, waving…as I write this the tears are pricking my eyes just as they did that day…it’s not often I am stuck for words (ask my husband and colleagues!) but I just could not speak as the lump in my throat was just so huge.

   
 

 

More firsts…

It was the first time that I have been asked to plant a tree, and then had it named after me, (it is growing as part of the Wyche garden)

It was the first time that I had heard children singing so strongly, passionately and yet so effortlessly.

It was the first time I had taught in front of a class of 120!! Almost all none English speakers  but each of them eager to learn. I felt suddenly inadequate but when put on the spot what do you do? Let’s just say the dulcet tones of ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ now resonate regularly around Gofu Juu Primary school!

It was the first time I had heard a gasp of complete awe and wonder as the Windows desktop image appeared on a computer screen (and that was by Esther as well as the children!), on a visit to do computer studies at the local college.

It was the first time I have really considered as a teacher how much I take for granted the resources I have to support my class. Each child has access to a big table space, a comfortable chair not to mention ample pens, pencils, rubbers and paper. To witness 4 children sharing one small, narrow bench and table with only one rubber between them on the end of one of the children’s pencils, one of the pencils being no longer than 3cms, one child not having a book in which to work is very humbling as not one child complains, they share unthinkingly without cause for reprise. They were all focussed on their learning.

   

It was the first time I have had the responsibility of painting a mural, with very limited resources, in the blazing heat, as a lasting momento of our school alliance whilst being watched by most of the staff and children at the school.

It was the first time I have been given an item of clothing that I have not tried on, or that does not have the size inside it, that has been made, bespoke just for me!

   

Our time in school was informative, educational, and emotional, the daily queue of orphans coming to collect their portion of ugi, (for most the only meal they would have that day), bringing tears of sadness one minute, whilst the view of Geoff playing football and running all over the villagers washing left to dry on the grass whilst it is being rapidly collected by the ladies of the village, bringing tears of joy (from Esther at least) the next minute. All too soon our time to leave came around and I was left on that final day with a lump in my throat even larger than the one I had had on arrival. I did not want to say goodbye, I knew I had made friends for life and that in a strange way part of me was being left behind at Gofu Juu.

Our trip was not over as we had planned to spend part of our half term holiday on Safari (self funded of course!) and whilst there were many more firsts…

It was the first time I had seen elephants, giraffes and zebras etc in the wild.

It was the first time I had spoken to a member of the Masai tribe. (A surreal experience whilst waiting for my colleagues outside a bank and being approached by 2 Masai Warriors in full tribal dress, complete with spears, asking if I would like to buy medicines!)

It was the first time I had flown in a plane not much bigger than a large car! (not something I would like to repeat regularly).

It was the first time I tasted Goat and Wildebeast!

I would have quite happily have swapped them all for another week at Gofu Juu Primary School.

I looked forward to welcoming Esther to the Wyche the following Summer and with hope that maybe one day I would return to Tanga again.

To say the trip had a profound effect on me is an understatement. The fact that I have finally sat down to write this, more that 2 years later, and have not had to refer to a diary or photographic evidence to trigger my memories says it all. It is as fresh and poignant in my mind today as it was then.

Thankfully all of these firsts were not to be my lasts!