Monday, March 2, 2015

ok. just checking to make sure I can publish from my I-pad. I keep trying to convince my kids I am not a techie illiterate but I don't think they believe me!!
and one more important goal:
follow up with Floresta and Plant With Purpose on the gardening workshop Asante provided for some teachers.
We sponsor school lunch at some primary schools in the Moshi area, and feel that it is important if our schools can also have gardens to provide fresh vegetables to supplement the meals.  So there was a training a few weeks ago, and we will be talking with the participants, visiting the schools, etc. to see how it all went.

Funny thing -- I am pretty involved with the Farm-To-School initiative here in Alaska, working with schools to begin gardens, greenhouses, high tunnels, etc.  So it will be interesting to see how Asante's little "Farm-At-School" program is shaping up!
The clock is ticking down . . .
Get up tomorrow at 3 am, leave here at 3:30; board the plane at 5:20 and off to MSP.
Plants are watered, laundry is finished, and my house is about as clean as it ever gets  :-)

I am so excited to see Bethany who is our connection to the Maasai women beaders; and to see Mary Ann, who is our founder. 

Some goals for this TZ and UG trip:
1.  Assist Julie in developing some strategies for minimizing defaults and late payments to our micro-loan fund.  She has really stepped up to the plate as far as administering the program; we just need to work together to iron out some of the difficulties.
2.  Meet with some of the seamstresses who sew our batik clothing.  We have come a long way in the last few years in terms of helping the women in Tanzania understand how women in America shop for clothing.  Over there -- you go to your tailor, he or she measures you, and you come back to pick up your order.  Over here -- you go to the store, head for the size 12's and try on what you like.  Some of the new styles and batik prints the Miichi women have come up with are wonderful, and selling well.  We want to capitalize on that success.
3.  Check on the progress of the latrine for the girls' dorms at the secondary school in Ketumbeine, where our Maasai women live.  Asante partnered with the school to construct a lovely new latrine for the boys a few years ago; we are in the process of assisting with the construction of the girls'.
4.  Reconnect with the basket weavers in Uganda with NEEPU.
5.  Meet once again with the basket weaving women of Rwenzori Mtn. Women in Ft. Portal, UG.
6.  Locate new sources of jewelry, batiks and wood carvings, since the disastrous and calamitous fire destroyed the Maasai Open Air Market in Arusha. 

And now it is time to prepare for a nutrition workshop I am offering at our church this evening.  2nd in a series of 4 -- tonight is reading and understand ingredient and nutrition labels.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Man! What a whirlwind set of events have led to this upcoming trip!

Originally scheduled it for last April; then things conspired (I got really sick) and I wasn't able to go.  Finally, we have been able to coordinate our dates and set the trip itinerary.

I am traveling with our newest Asante volunteer (and treasurer extraordinaire), Jaime Fink.  She and her family are  long-time Alaskans.  Asante has been blessed to have her on board and I hope she is looking forward to traveling with me, as much as I am looking forward to traveling with her.

Our Maasai beading group's coordinator, Bethany Frieburg, is in Minneapolis right now, so I'll be heading there first to visit with her and talk about the NAAPOK group.  Also will have a wonderful opportunity to visit with Mary Ann Sheets-Hanson and her hubby while there.  Mary Ann is the founder of Asante, so it will be great to see her.

I am leaving here March 3 for MSP, then leaving there for Amsterdam on March 6.  I'll meet up with Jaime there, and we will travel together to Kilimanjaro Airport and the town of Moshi.

As you all know, internet access and connectivity can be sporadic and slow over there.  I have (supposedly) unlocked my iphone and only need to insert a TZ sim-card to have phone access . . . we shall see how that all works.  Luckily, the Uhuru Conference Center, where I generally stay the first few nights, has pretty good internet, so I will try and get off a note from there, before we head up to Ketumbeine to visit our Maasai women.

Cheers, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Photos of Moshi and Ketumbeine

Hopefully this will work!

To view the first of several web albums with photos from our trip, click here

Hopefully that will work nicely and I will get the rest of the photos up soon.

Happy Easter to everyone!  I'm still suffering sunshine withdrawals, but at least today we are seeing a little bit more of the sun than yesterday.  There is still a lot of snow here, but I can picture the wonderful plants and animals of Uganda and Tanzania . . .

Thursday, March 28, 2013

And Now It Is Time To Leave the "Pearl of Africa"

I started this post while we were still in Uganda, and now will be finishing it since our return to the States.

After a couple of wonderful days and a great hike, it is time to bid farewell to Ineke's and Uganda. I need to come up with something to do here, so that I can come for three months at a time!  I will miss the incredible green of the countryside, the bird calls early in the morning, the flowers and butterflies, Ineke's cooking and the beauty of this place. 

We had an uneventful drove for Ft. portal back to Entebbe.  Stopped for dinner at a restaurant right on Lake Victoria, and I actually went wading in the Lake!  It is one of the ten largest fresh water lakes in the world, by volume.  For some reason, it was kind of a cool thing to do.

Uganda:  miles and miles of tea plantations, mountains treed all the way to the top, rich red earth, hundreds of bods-bodas which are motorcycles used as taxis ( sometimes with three or four people on one motorcycle), busy and chaotic village markets, and amazing women weavers.  Next visit, I hope to be able to do some hiking and rafting over by Lake Victoria, the headwaters of the Nile and Murcheson Falls. 

The flights home were loooooooooooooooong and uneventful!  5 hour drive across Uganda from Ft. Portal to Entebbe, 3 hours in the airport waiting for the flight, 8 hour flight to Amsterdam, 4 hour wait in AMS, 8 1/2 hour flight to Minneapolis, 3 hours in the MSP airport, 5 1/2 hour flight to Anchorage, and an hour drive home.  Whew!  But it was so worth it.  And without air travel, it would take months of travel to reach Ft. Portal.  So sometimes when I whine about the length of the travel time, I try and put it in perspective . . .

Today my goal is to put together some web albums to correspond to past posts.  I will post the links and send them on.

It occurred to me this morning, as I was having breakfast, looking out at the fresh snow and leafless trees, that for the past 26 days, every  meal I have eaten has been either outside under the trees, on the veranda, or in a dining room completely open to the out-of-doors.  Guess I will have to wait a few  months for that to happen up here  :-)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Off To Uganda

One more day of meeting with Janet and Julie to catch up on some final details:  the financing of the latrine at the school in Minjingu (for a history of that fiasco, see the post from our last trip entitled Greed, Generosity and Corruption); sharing some of the products we purchased at the market in Arusha to give new ideas to the Miichi women for batiks; tips on packing the carvings to minimize breakage; request for new microloan to Mama Deborah; and final accounting for how much Asante owes Janet and Ima for the transportation while we have been here.

I have been worried this entire time about our trip to Uganda.  For the first time in my adult life, I am traveling without my yellow International Certificate of Vaccination.  It is a card on which is recorded all my vaccinations over the past 30 years, including my yellow fever shot.  I was told while we were in Ketumbeine, that Uganda requires proof of yellow fever vaccination in order to enter the country.  I have been stressing out about this, and praying continually and unceasingly that the way would be opened for me to enter without the card.  I wrote a friend who went to my house and searched for that damn card, to no avail.  At last, I resigned myself to the idea that if I couldn't get into Uganda, I would just come home early since I couldn't go back into Tanzania without another tourist visa.  So it was with some apprehension that I got on the plane for Uganda. Had a great flight with wonderful visibility and in no time (well, in an hour and a half ) we were landing at Entebbe Airort.  Came into the airport, filled out the immigration card, picked up my suitcase, took a deep breath and headed to the official -- who scanned my passport, took my $50 for my tourist visa, and wished me a pleasant stay in Uganda.  WHEW!  What an answer to prayer.  Once I was in our car heading for Ft. Portal, I finally relaxed.  And I haven't stopped thanking God for His intervention.  Now my biggest challenge when I get home is finding that card, and never leaving home without it!

Long and lovely drive to Ft. Portal, which is all the way across the country of Uganda from Entebbe and Kampala.  Took us about 5 hours, since the road is in good shape with good tarmac all the way.  And the Rwenzori Mtn. View lodge is as lovely as I remember it.  Ineke, who is our contact person for the Rwenzori Mtn. women, who weave some of our lovliest baskets, is gracious, welcoming and runs a fine hostel.  This is another place I could stay for an extended length of time.  Too bad I don't have anything productive to do here, otherwise I probably would stay for a while!  There is always an eclectic group of people from all over the world staying here at Ineke's and they are always interesting to talk with.

Thursday we walked all over Ft. Portal, starting with a stop at the bank for an ATM.  Somehow, it seems as if there is a more established infrastructure here in Uganda than in Tanzania, even though it doesn't really show.  Maybe it is that there has been a large influx of international aide to Uganda, which hasn't been available to Tanzania; maybe it is just that the city and county of Ft. Portal has invested in new buildings, paved roads and sidewalks.  Anyway, it is just quite pleasant here.  We also walked up into the Botanical Gardens and took a guided walk through the garden and forest, learning about herbal remedies for all manner of ailments as well as listening to our guide describe some of the reforestation programs in the country.  Dinner was exceptional--a fine ending to a lovely day.

Yesterday we visited our basket ladies, which was, as usual, inspiring.  These women are so gifted and they work so hard.  None of them depends solely on baskets for her income.  Some of them have small shops, all of them keep gardens and some animals, and they have families as well.  They have created some lovely new products, designs and colors.  We were able to describe for them what folks in the US like and what they don't seem to like, and what sells and what doesn't.  I think I will be able to order some wonderful new baskets for my holiday sales in Alaska.

And when it rains here, it absolutely pours.  Last night we had the most intense lightening, thunder and rain I can remember.  Even growing up in south Forida, we didn't have rains like we had last night.  It was very loud on the metal roof, and I just loved it.  Slept quite well . . .

Today we had planned to take a one day excursion over to Queen Elizabeth National Park, but unfortunately, Kathy was ill last night, so we are hanging out here all day.  Which is no hardship at all!